School of Velocity

Homework

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    5
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From the moniker of this quartet, one would expect Homework to be an all-hell-breaks-loose, in-your-face type of free improv album. Well, it is and it isn't. It does have the feeling of urgency found in early free music, but without resorting to extreme levels of energy. For this project, guitarist David Tucker, originally a rock guitarist, teamed up with three musicians from the London improv scene. Saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist John Edwards, and drummer Steve Noble often played together in various settings. But this is not just another one of Parker's sax/bass/drums trio with Tucker sitting in. Each musician approached School of Velocity as an entity with a distinct signature and this first recorded document shows a fair amount of complicity, fire, and subtlety. Homework was recorded in one studio session in March 2000. Two long improvs (24 and 30 minutes) are sandwiched between three shorter excerpts, all titled "Open Plan." This quartet is not aiming at another rehash of Peter Brötzmann's Machine Gun: pensive moments abound, dynamics are wide and constantly changing. The edgy guitar and the powerful saxophone don't always connect perfectly -- some moments in the title piece see them ignoring each other. But the rhythm section is exemplary in its flexibility. Sadly, the album contains one highly irritating flaw: numerous sound drops. When it is not Tucker's guitar fading in and out of the mix, it is Parker's saxophone that suddenly gets drowned.

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