Julian Priester

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This intriguing lineup doesn't quite live up to expectations. Trombonist Julian Priester and saxophonist Sam Rivers come from slightly different perspectives, the former immersed in the bop and post-bop traditions and the elder Rivers known for his more radical harmonic and rhythmic concepts. While the idea of bringing these two very accomplished players together must have appeared to be a no-miss effort, in reality they each seem to be improvising around, rather than with, each other. The third member of the triangle is Tucker Martine, who contributes a less-than-substantial electronic underbrush. The nine tracks sound as though they are freely improvised, and there are moments of lucidity and excitement in which hints of what might-have-been emerge. For example, on "The New System," Rivers' hands slide exotically and energetically on the piano keys to deftly embrace Priester's spacious sounds. Unfortunately, these outstanding moments are the exception rather than the rule, and there are times -- particularly with the electronics (as on "Mister Mayor and Mister Miser") -- when not much is happening. Both Rivers and Priester have recorded more convincingly elsewhere, and admirers of each of these enormous talents will find better examples of their works in other contexts. Overall, a missed opportunity that begs for an encore with a different focus.

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