Scott Rosenberg

New Folk, New Blues

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Needless to say, New Folk, New Blues has nothing to do with either folk or the blues, even though this quartet's form of free improv does have a vital, atavistic feel to it, without excluding some serious refinements. Scott Rosenberg is an unsung hero of the saxophone, his raspy, urgent sound being particularly well suited for high-octane sessions, which this one mostly is. The quartet is keen on exploring vacuous spaces (as in sections of "Good Morning, Headache" and "Knives, Swords, Flags") but not for too long -- stamina quickly builds back up. Jim Baker, here the only musician past his thirties, alternates between his jerky analog synthesizer and piano. When he sits at the latter for "Knives, Swords, Flags," the music immediately takes a free jazz form, bassist Anton Hatwich locking into a groove while Baker hammers chords and drummer Tim Daisy swings like his life depends on it. That piece, the most striking on this album, later boils down to inside-piano playing and quiet abstract exchanges before building back up to an intense free improv romp, Rosenberg making his tenor scream like one of Peter Brötzmann's tortured apparatuses. On the other tracks, the group adopts a more abstract approach, with Daisy developing a counterpoint dialogue with Baker's chirping electronics and Rosenberg using some of his impressive extended techniques whenever he is not busy making his sax turn red hot. "Sweating Vertebrae Superior Cathedrals" is the best example in that style, a nine-minute roller coaster of brilliant ideas and surprising twists. In comparison, the 24-minute "Good Morning, Headache" and the 15-minute "Laugh Your Troubles Away" exhaust their pool of ideas a little bit too early. Still, New Folk, New Blues is a fine, noisy free improv album with an attitude to boot.

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