Lesli Dalaba

Lung Tree

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Chris Cutler rarely releases free improvisation CDs on his ReR Megacorp label. This project must have pushed his buttons the right way -- as it may very well push yours. Lung Tree is indeed a wonderful trio session between three West Coast improvisers. The trio convened in a New Mexico studio in January of 2004, on Eric Glick Rieman's invitation. The man is mostly known for his unique use of a prepared Fender Rhodes electric piano, but he also plays piano and synthesizers on this recording. Glick Rieman released two albums on the Accretions label prior to this one, and the second of those was a free improv quartet featuring longstanding Cutler partner Fred Frith, Carla Kihlstedt, and Lesli Dalaba. An acute listener, Dalaba still approaches the trumpet as a note-producing instrument, so no need to fear the abstract minute sounds of an Axel Dörner or a Franz Hautzinger. Speaking of acute listeners, Stuart Dempster fits the bill, and it should suffice to say that this trombonist plays in Pauline Oliveros' Deep Listening Band. Lung Tree consists of nine rather short improvisations (the longest clocks in at nine and a half minutes, still short by free improv standards), some of them almost certainly edited out of longer performances. Each piece explores a different mood, although most of the album falls into quiet, contemplative realms. Dalaba and Dempster weave sinuous, slightly sad lines, occasionally engaging in spontaneous two-part skirmishes, while Glick Rieman's modified piano seduces the ear with its unusual plink-plonking. "The Dock-Red Ice" and its sparse landscape, the quiet "Bed Shadows into Sleep," and the dirge "Morning Light Through Smokestacks" stand out as particularly strong self-contained pieces, but each track brings its share of surprising sounds and pleasant ideas to the table. Lung Tree is strong, not too demanding, quiet late-night free improv.

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