Jack Wright

Free Life, Singing

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Improvising saxophonist and pianist Jack Wright recorded this, his debut album, "at home, under a loft bed" in 1982, and it became the inaugural release on his Spring Garden Music label. Wright describes the recording as "crude by today's engineering standards," but compared to the notoriously lo-fi quality of some of the classic ESP releases, the sound quality is stellar. The saxophonist's roots in jazz are still evident -- the fourth (untitled) piece starts out with an involuntary nod toward Monk's "Criss Cross" -- but are well camouflaged. The influence of first-generation free improv saxophonists is more easily discernible, notably Evan Parker and Peter Brötzmann (in track three). The second and fifth tracks are duets on which Wright is joined by Philadelphia-based drummer Marv Frank, whose nifty brushwork, though not well served by the recording, recalls Han Bennink. Wright saw his work then as "a continuation of the sixties, keeping radical culture alive, slapping American white-bread culture in the face." Indeed, for raw energy and sheer commitment, Free Life, Singing is right up there with the wild early Parachute recordings of John Zorn and Eugene Chadbourne, and is just as well worth hunting down.

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