Gerry Hemingway Quintet


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It's rare that an actual jazz date makes an appearance on the Random Acoustics label, so when one does rise up from the noisy improv ether, listeners are sure to pay attention. The Gerry Hemingway Quintet was an under-recorded unit chock-full of masterful players: Mark Dresser bass; Ernst Reijseger, cello; Michael Moore, saxophones and clarinet; Wolter Wierbos, trombone; and of course Hemingway, the man behind the kit. This disc is culled from a trio of performances from 1991 to 1993. While excerpts from concerts are usually unsatisfying for lack of continuity, this batch is different largely because it features live recordings of material that appeared on studio records before this compilation. For example, the version here of the title track is one that almost picks up in the middle of the version that appeared on the HatART disc Demon Chaser. The splattering tension that revs itself into a frenzy and threatens to go off its nut was only hinted at in the studio piece, which is therefore completed in this rendering. "Threnody/Taffia 2" is a live medley of "Threnody for Charles Mingus," which appeared on Outerbridge Crossing on the Sound Aspects label, and there is also a cruelly intense second half of "Taffia" from the HatART disc Special Detail. The Wierbos solo is meltdown fine and Hemingway's creation of a counterpoint with the dual bassing notions of Dresser and Reijseger swings for the fences of blues harmony. Also notable is the quintet version of "If You Like," which pits Dresser and Reijseger against one another in a duel to the death of harmonic invention and scalar intrigue, all the while swinging within a hard bop/blues framework with Hemingway triple-time soloing all around them, creating a an almost impossible contrapuntal situation as Wierbos and Moore hold down the swing in lyrical elegance. This is just an awesome disc. Period.

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