Fish Love That was recorded in the studio over two consecutive days in June 1998, at the end of a 21-month period during which Neil B. Rolnick performed every month in New York City. So it marks the end of a cycle for him. Even though Fish Love That's existence rests on a concept of compositions-which-are-improvisations-which-are-compositions developed in the act of performing; the group was well rehearsed and it shows. The music consists of earthly grooves ranging from post-bop ballads to avant-garde/jazz-funk romps, snippets of melodies and atonal improvisations, all harnessed to the canvas that is the score. Sound familiar? It should, since in the end Fish Love That follows a path similar to Miles Davis' music immediately following Bitches Brew, although it does move further out and obliterates the need for a towering central figure. Todd Reynolds (violin) and Andrew Sterman (sax and flutes) provide many reasons to rejoice. The former's wah-wah violin in "Those Cows They Never Came Home" is possibly the most creative use of the device on that particular instrument ever heard. And the latter's flute work in "Piscator" provides a highlight. The Rolnick-penned "Ratchet" has an odd calypso feel that gives the album a party flavor, although your party guests may not all agree. The concluding "Hush" moves into soundscape territory, but this anti-climactic finale is only half-convincing. The group works best when it has a solid groove to build over.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture