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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sarah Gail Brand / Steve Beresford / John Edwards / Mark Sanders - All Will Be Said, All To Do Again (Regardless, 2019) ****

By Lee Rice Epstein

British trombonist Sarah Gail Brand doesn’t appear on albums often, which makes this recording especially exciting. Having previously recorded with drummer Mark Sander s , All Will Be Said, All To Do Again is the recorded debut of a quartet with multi-instrumentalist Steve Beresford and bassist John Edwards. The album, recorded live in January 2018, flows masterfully, as the musicians merge, converge, and diverge with tremendous energy. Three major quartet improvisations, “A Constant Quantity,” “Be Again,” and “Let’s Go,” are set off by a series of smaller groupings: “This One” with Brand and Beresford; “Ever Tried” with Brand, Beresford, and Edwards; “Let’s Do Something While We Have the Chance” with Brand and Edwards; and “For Reasons Unknown,” again with Brand, Beresford, and Edwards.

As I’ve written in prior reviews, it’s difficult for me to separate art like free improvisation from the state of the world beyond it. Personally, I tend to find improvised music less hermetically sealed than other types of music, and so to try and put some context around the date of this performance, it feels like the depths of Brexit malaise is being mined for something dense and frustrated, with knotty, clanging piano preparations and electronics from Beresford and Sanders’s magnificent percussion flurries. With associations onstage and on record going back decades, all four players are comfortable pushing at their compatriots’ loose edges, the subtle frays drawn out by partial phrasing and the occasional dramatic pause.

Much like Ken Vandermark, Brand is talented at shaping a lengthy performance, bringing a number of techniques to her trombone playing. There are a number of Rutherford-esque sequences throughout the album, and “For Reasons Unknown” features some of her finest and most challenging playing. Some of the smaller groupings serve as a tightrope-walker’s interlude, where a notably tenser, strained timbre slips into place. Edwards, of course, is incredible, and he pairs with Brand expertly. Their duet “Let’s Do Something While We Have the Chance” is the middle track, and indeed serves as a bit of a centerpiece, as instrumentally sparse as this album gets. That said, the tracks featuring the full quartet are brilliant, like all the best free jazz, ablaze with possibility and absolutely on fire.

Available via Bandcamp.

Also of note: Though I’ve not heard it yet, the release of Brand’s quartet performance with Simon H. Fell, Percy Pursglove, and the late Tony Marsh is another notable 2019 release. Recorded live in 2011, Harmonic 2011 is an improvised set, running about 30 minutes. As Fell notes, this was the last time he saw Marsh, and the one and only recording of this particular quartet.

Also available via Bandcamp.


Captain Hate said...

Good to see that Brand is still playing. I enjoyed her playing, as Gail Brand, on Freedom of the City releases on Emanem with the London Improvisers Orchestra in the early 2000s and a Simon Fell Quartet two disc release on Red Toucan. And then she mostly disappeared. So this is very welcome news.

Richard said...

This is a terrific album, and I'm glad it's getting the attention.
I bought it for John Edwards, but Brand really shines.

Colin Green said...

Gail Brand, Tim Perkis, Gino Robair, John Shiurba, Matthew Sperry ‎– "Supermodel Supermodel" (Emanem, 2006) is also recommended.