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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Free Jazz Quartet - Memories For The Future (Matchless, 2010) ****

A strange album. It has been lying here for a while now, waiting to be reviewed. It was recorded in 1992, and is only the second album by the British Free Jazz Quartet. The band consists of the late Paul Rutherford on trombone, Harrison Smith on tenor, soprano and bass clarinet, Tony Moore on cello, and Eddie Prévost on drums.

The music is extremely light-footed, and unlike some British free improv or AMM music, it is "free jazz" as its name suggests, in the sense that there are themes, there is rhythm, but the openness of texture, the gentle breaking of boundaries and the sonic explorations already hint at another kind of music. In that sense the title is apt, taking good jazz memories from the past, and taking the best of it to make the music of the future. No paradox here, just some forward thinking.

The musical result is excellent: mild explorations, full of warmth, great interaction and somehow also surprise on the journey. "Pulsate" offers an interesting cello vamp to spur the improvisation on, and is in that sense more traditional. "Summoning" adds something more, starting with a great percussion intro on the toms only, the bowed cello adds a kind of maddening phrase and improvisation, and once that scene is created, sax and trombone join past halfway the track with mourning bird calls evolving into surreal wailing.

"Vibrational" brings a beautiful soprano solo over a nervous rhythm by drums and cello, evolving into what could be a chase between Tom and Jerry, then turning bluesy when the trombone joins. The title track is led by the trombone, is somewhat more adventurous and atonal in its approach, with the cello and percussion taking over the lead in the second part, full of urgency and intensity."Harmonious Relations" is as jazzy as it gets, with the sax leading the tune, and with cello and drums adding the sparse rhythmic backbone.

The album ends in absolute beauty, with "Blurring Of Boundaries" offering the essence of their music : sensitive and in the musical vanguard, sweet and different at the same time.

It's a shame this band did not record more. It's a miracle and a joy that their second album is now available.

© stef


Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg said...

Beste Stef , Paul Rutherford is no more now. so the band doesn't exist anymore . I heard them with Marcio Mattos on cello in 2002 in the Freedom of The City / London . Now Tony Moore is back !!
I have written an obituary for Paul in Improjazz , if you wish , I can send it to you .