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Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Jack Wright/Ben Bennett –Augur (Palliative Records, 2023)

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

Saxophonist Jack Wright and drummer/percussionist Ben Bennett have been collaborating for around a decade now. By talking to them and, mainly, by listening to their music, what is crystal clear is that both improvisers share common ideas and feelings about the music they create. Their shared language is totally evident in any recording by them-as a duo or even with other like minded artists like Zach Darrup for the trio Never which was reviewed here.

On Augur, their latest effort as duo, again on Palliative Records, this sax and drums duo forms another, different and inspiring entity than the usual free jazz blowouts that have, by now, formed a tradition inside the jazz tradition. Their shared language, mentioned before, is in the form of attentive listening and then playing. Their dedication in following each other’s ideas and gestures has created a fruitful trajectory of three long tracks. Each one seems to start humbly and, certainly, not loudly, building up slowly, using their weapons as improvisers: open to any new idea, those two players are nervously ready (but so relaxed at the same time) to respond to anything new.

Jack Wright has managed through the years to avoid following his idiolect as a player, producing something new each time. A very difficult task and goal. Bennett, coming from a much younger generation but also equally dedicated, seems (I’m quite certain about that) to be following the same path. It is not easy to reinvent yourself or even try to.

Theire is no point, I believe, in writing individually about the two players. They play in unison with an interaction that reveals a lot of playing together (in and out of any kind of a stage), but also a lot of talking and thinking about the music. Their music requires a lot of careful listening and provides many questions for the listener. I cannot think of a bigger compliment than this, it certainly is a five star recording for 2023.

Listen and buy here: