Collective 4tet

The Ropedancer

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Four lower Manhattan free jazzers get together to form a one-off quartet, tour Europe, and make a record for Leo Feigin. Given the lineup -- William Parker on bass, Jeff Hoyer on trombone Heinz Geisser on drums and percussion, and Mark Hennen on piano -- this music has to be called "free jazz," but in many ways, it is much more. This is music that is made simply for the purpose of making and using sound as the extension of the human spirit engaged in two things: individual expression in the confines of a small community, and collective communication to another, larger collective, i.e., the world. The most fascinating thing about this date is that the two front-line players are Hennen and Parker. Hennen, given that he is "the leader" on this date, is no surprise, but Parker, who it seems could only serve as an anchor to this swirling mass of sound, texture, and emotion, is one of the architects of its flow, ever toward the action, the flow, the dance. It is trombonist Jeff Hoyer, whose crisp, short, yet exacting lines keep things running through the channel without moving off on meaningless tangents into musical nothingness. The approach here is dense and energetic, though it slows on "Yoru No Katnchutachi" into an abstract blend of explored tonalities and dynamics. The rest is energy, seemingly unrestrained except for the grounding spiritual guidance that Hoyer provides. It's an album that's not for the weak-hearted or those looking to explore in the short form what free jazz is all about. This is cacophony in all its maddening glory. Amen.

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