Click here to [close]

Monday, March 2, 2020

Sam Weinberg/Tyler Damon/ Henry Fraser – Foment (Amalgam, 2019)****

Once you become familiar with anything, it’s not easy to be impressed by whatever new derives from it. It’s a natural process I guess. Being a fan of free jazz and collective improvisation as a way of expression, the their ethics plus the everyday functions that come from it, you are exposed to many different recordings and ideas. It’s a free thinking music with libertarian ideas per se. One that has produced masterpieces, wonderful recordings of music by some of the most important renegades of 20th century’s music. It’s hard, sometimes impossible, to leave all this knowledge of the past behind and listen to with new ears, without prejudice even, anything new that comes out of what we nowadays call the ever expanding universe of free jazz. It gets even more difficult, I dare say, to evaluate the new stuff, great recordings coming out to us on a monthly basis. The comparisons are always there while the expectations are most probably high.

Sam Weinberg, apart from being one of my favorite wind players at the moment, falls into most of the aforementioned categories. Following this review, tomorrow, you will find a very short interview plus another review of a very different recording, one that proves that Sam struggles to broaden his horizon. On Foment though, we hear two long free jazz tracks of collective improvisation. His comrades are Henry Fraser on the double bass and Tyler Damon on drums and percussion. Continuing onto my earlier thoughts, listening to so many people (especially in jazz) who are so articulate and demanding with their playing, makes me always focus more on the interaction of the musician. We are talking about collective improvisation in any case.

Improvisation is a practice that comes from everyday life. Whenever it is not a mannerism to be sold in corporate ways, it includes ways of thinking, interacting and playing that produce spectacular results. There are moments in Foment when their interplay belongs to the great recordings of free jazz of the 60’s and 70’s. The two long tracks, Sleet and Bait, are full of the trio’s struggles to communicate. A communication that involves each other but also the listener, you and me. On Sleet their playing is more aggressive. The sax lines are fiercer, the bass offers us the rhythmic abnormalities of plucking and whatever other verbs are out there to describe the double bass. While the drums of Damon are a constant highlight. He is in the middle of things from time to time, either accompanying (in a linear dialogue with the bass) Fraser, or following up a sax phrase. Even though this is an antithesis, his playing is probably the highlight of Foment. On Bait, they seem to get lost in a trance and follow each other lines, sometimes even getting close to melody.

I do not have a clue of how Foment, in terms of spacing and room recording, was recorded. What they produce though declares vividly that this is a stellar recording of three artists interacting on a non hierarchical basis. Go for it all you good people reading these lines and, as always, support small labels.



Richard said...

I highly recommend that people check out the Amalgam website on bandcamp, lots of great stuff. I especially like Dawa
by Quost/Ali/Harris.