Mujician

Birdman

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

Recording again after a two-year interval, and again in front of a small live audience, Mujician offers more of its unique style of wide-ranging collective improvisation. This CD consists of three long, diffuse pieces, with one just under 30 minutes and another just over that length. On the somewhat austere and abstract title piece, Paul Dunmall displays a very tart, biting tenor, and the playing of other members is hard-edged and tightly controlled. Dunmall signals the shifting dynamic of the second piece by opening on the Chinese shenai, a nasal-sounding reed instrument, while Paul Rogers, Tony Levin and Keith Tippett all skitter percussively behind him. Tippett then takes over on a tinny prepared piano before Dunmall returns on alto sax, playing fluttery, flight-of-the-bumblebee lines mixed with occasional squawks. An early highlight of this piece is an exchange between Dunmall and drummer Levin, trading fours in a way that is both free and highly disciplined. Rogers has a long turn on bass, and then the dialogue continues in a rather thoughtful and restrained manner until the end of the piece. The final selection, "The Hands Are Just Shadows," opens with some ecstatic, Pharoah Sanders-style wailing from Dunmall, but which, typically for Mujician, doesn't escalate and sustain the energy according to free-jazz convention, but rather backs off for some gentle exchanges before another squalling flourish by Dunmall and then a quiet, lyrical finish by Tippett. With Mujician, the rule of thumb is to expect the unexpected. Their music is affirmative but never trite and it seems to embrace virtually all musical and emotional possibilities.

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