Sunday, December 26, 2021

Mujician - 10 10 10 (Cuneiform, 2021) ****½

The Free Jazz Blog has never covered the seminal Mujician quartet directly. There are references in reviews of recordings from the late pianist Keith Tippett or the wonderfully prolific saxophonist Paul Dunmall, and an entry from the obituary of drummer Tony Levin. In a sense, Mujician's time was a bit before this publication's, but the quartet's influence is still felt. With 10 10 10, we finally have a chance to review a contemporary - albeit archival - release.

In 2010, the group Tippet, Dunmall, Levin and bassist Paul Rogers, did a short tour to celebrate Levin's 70th birthday, during the tour, they made this recording (on October 10th), which was subsequently not released. After Levin's untimely passing just few months later, the others continued to work in other constellations, but Mujician was done. 10 10 10 comes as a reminder as to how well these players brought their music to life together.

There are two approximately 30 minutes tracks on 10 10 10, the title track and 'Remember'. The first begins with the thump of the drums and a roll on the cymbals, leading to a spritely tickle of the piano keys into what seems to be the start of a stately theme. However, that last part is a distraction, the sax and bass the enter, the pulse hardens, and the group takes off. 10 minutes later - after having gone though a bit of  an ebb and flow - the energy reaches a peak. Then, pulling back, the group begins to search the musical depths, Tippet's piano flickering shimmers in the darkness of the basses drones and legato saxophone tones. Towards the end, Dunmall's sharp soprano leads a flowing conversation with the others. 'Remember' begins with a poignant melodic idea from the sax, delicately supported by the piano, and underscored by the drums and bass. It could be the product of deliberate composition, but here, it seems to be the result of expert instant choices. A bit less boisterous at its peaks, and a little lither traversing its valleys, the track highlights the individual sensitivity of the players.

Wonderfully crafted and recorded, 10 10 10 is a brilliant post-humous entry in the slim but important output from Mujician. Thanks to Cuneiform for making this available, and it is easy to say that this is a highly recommended listen.

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