Click here to [close]

Saturday, February 16, 2008

John Lindberg Ensemble - The Catbird Sings (Soul Note, 2000) ****

And here is another winner from John Lindberg, in an ensemble with Andrew Cyrille on drums, Larry Ochs on sax and Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet. Not all tracks are played by all four musicians. The first piece is a wonderful slow meditative duet between trumpet and bass. The second, "Waltz Four", starts with a strong two-minute long bass intro, after which the three other musicians join, with a staggeringly beautiful melody in the high tones by Ochs, with solid thematic counterpoint by Smith. "Hydrofoil", dedicated to the late bassist Fred Hopkins, starts very intense, dark and menacing, with Lindberg on violent arco, for sure the most free part of the album, with the other musicians playing up a storm. "Ascendant" is a Jimmy Garrison tune, very boppish. Mingus's "Nostalgia In Times Square", is a bluesy bopper, with great trumpet playing by Smith, and with a wonderful drums and bass duet in the middle part. "Ground Multiple" a beautiful slow and meditative piece that starts with excellent bowing by Lindberg. "Area 6" brings us back into free zone with lots of unexpected twists and turns and lots of extended techniques by Ochs and Lindberg. "Sophie's Lullaby" is a bass-drums duet. And the album's main dish is the fifteen minute title song, again a free bopper. The music is great, the musicians too. If there is one downside to mention, it's the lack of musical coherence on the record, which happens to be one of the strengths of Lindberg's more recent releases. Recommended nonetheless.