The Left Coast Improv Group

Apr/May 2002

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Apr/May 2002 was released a little over a year after the Left Coast Improv Group's debut -- and rushed out the door three weeks after its completion, in time for the 2002 San Francisco Alt-Music Festival. It shows enormous growth in the ensemble and offers a delightful set of free improv, West Coast style. Remaining from the first quintet are cellist Bob Marsh, flutist Jim Ryan, computer whiz Scott R. Looney, and the ubiquitous Ernesto Diaz-Infante on prepared guitar. But the group has expanded into a seven-piece affair with Jeff Hobbs (violin and cornet), Ron Heglin (trombone and vocalizing), and Karen Stackpole (percussion). The music presents a communal approach to free improv, derivative of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, with extra Eastern overtones in the flute, Diaz-Infante's prepared guitar (often sounding like a koto), and a general Zen atmosphere that permeates throughout. Half of the 12 tracks consist of purely free improvisations. The others follow simple rules. These details are not obvious upon first listen, except for "Bob's Bios," in which the players were instructed to reminisce out loud about childhood memories. Pointing out highlights would lead nowhere: Each track has its strengths and the album works beautifully as a whole. It absorbs the listener gently, never imposing its views. The group gels together marvelously -- it turned into a first-rate improv unit in the course of a year. Apr/May 2002 gathers the best elements of a thriving music scene; it is a shame it had to be released as a CD-R on a microscopic local label. It simply deserves better. Highly recommended.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
4:31
2
10:17
3
5:49
4
feat: Ron Heglin
4:04
5
feat: Jim Ryan
5:34
6
feat: Bob Marsh
6:59
7
3:30
8
feat: Jim Ryan
6:33
9
3:19
10
3:07
11
4:53
12
10:21
blue highlight denotes track pick