Barre Phillips

After You've Gone

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The story behind this album brings together the names of six of the top bass players on the free improv circuit. Barre Phillips, Joëlle Léandre, William Parker, and Barry Guy were approached to perform a quartet concert at the Victoriaville FIMAV 2003 festival as a tribute to the late Peter Kowald. Guy cancelled his trip for personal reasons and Tetsu Saitoh, already scheduled to appear in Victo as part of Michel Doneda's French-Japanese quintet, agreed to take his place. After You've Gone documents this concert, a double bass summit, if you will. One could have expected a string of solos, duos, and trios, with the occasional quartet thrown in for good measure. On the contrary, all four improvisers are heard simultaneously most of the time. The performance is rather uneven: the music is dense, busy and crowded, but often lacks direction or simply doesn't live up to the expectations inevitably attached to a "supergroup" of this kind. Nevertheless, there are precious moments on After You've Gone. "Whoop Yer Tal" sees the bassists abandon textural playing to foray into more playful territories, and the result is amazing. The same applies to "Bleu Grek," a dynamic improvisation with many mood swings and a delicate finale. The encore, "P.S.-Te Queremos," is a grave arco quartet, requiem-like, a mournful drone hovering over a tonal center, with occasional atonal escapades. The group playing on this track eclipses most of what was previously heard, and leads one to think that the quartet had just warmed up by the time the concert was over.

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