Thomas Borgmann

Boom Swing

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While everything on this disc is worth discussing, its large suite, "Nastysweet Parts I & II," which covers over half the CD, is the place to fix your focus on. "Nastysweeet" is a gargantuan piece of group improvisation in which the entirety of Western music is called into question and found wanting. The stalwart, visionary rhythm section of the late Denis Charles and bassist Wilber Morris accompanies saxophonist Thomas Borgmann, who uses tenor, soprano, and sopranino horns here. Morris, who leads in ominously, plays single-note octaves and whole tones, re-tuning as he plays. Borgmann joins him sparingly, drifting in cautiously, playing in between those notes and around them with the bass at the center. Charles is heard from in a sudden crash of cymbals and bass drum before easing his way in with fragments centered around Morris. It is at this moment that Borgmann chooses to introduce the melody, steeped in blues and modalism and something else, a certain tonal inquiry that asks deep questions of both of them and never attempts to answer them -- at least to any kind of satisfaction. As the piece takes off it becomes a no-holds-barred, three-sided argument for freedom and from consonance, an assent to dissonance -- not for its own sake, but for stripping away the historical layers that made it dissonant in the first place. This is language music: it tells stories, it erects enormous harmonic temples that crash without a moment's notice, it breaks intervals in its teeth and boils them down into a squawking soup that pours forth in ribbons of pure sound. It's almost impossible to listen to the other two cuts here because these are so dramatic and full of emotion they leave the listener exhausted. But that's a small complaint.

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