Steve Beresford

Directly to Pyjamas

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There are a handful of recordings that have some kind of legend or perhaps tall-tale associated with them; this duet, featuring representatives of two generations of the musical nuthouse, was saddled with the story that it was supposed to have been a trio with John Zorn, but he didn't show up at the recording session. This story is then used to shore up the tentative, somewhat hesitant nature of the music, as if the participants had been caught off guard and unprepared. Another explanation might be the problems players such as this have in fully expressing themselves inside a studio. Although much of what they do comes from sheer musical talent, a whole aspect of the energy, interplay, and narrational unfolding of their improvisations relates to an audience watching them and their sense of time and place within a particular performance situation. When playing with pianists, the Dutch drummer can be completely sympathetic and act as a total rhythm section, providing everything needed and occasionally throwing in accents at the volume level of a small nuclear explosion. Beresford is a marvelous pianist whose improvisations are rich in detail. Sometimes his playing is so packed with references that it is like the sound equivalent of a large ancient tapestry hanging on a wall. Both players have a surrealistic, conceptual side to their work that would not be satisfied with a simple piano and drum, music-focused outing, so they get into interplay on other instruments, as this was recorded before Bennink gave up his extra arsenal of instruments, in this session consisting of trombone and violin. It is all well recorded, well played, and never exactly dull, but just doesn't hit the heights these two would in a live gig. Is the two-second "Stug" the shortest composition ever recorded?

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