Gary Smith

Gary Smith & John Stevens: Seven Improvisations

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Here are two musicians of different generations in a room with a tape recorder on. One (Gary Smith) is a young, electric jazz guitarist; the other (John Stevens) is a fairly well-known jazz and free improv drummer from the '60s generation of improvisers. For over an hour they learned to speak together in varying tones and dynamics, and tried to create a language that would transcend their different styles and approaches to improvising. They finally begin to really speak on track four, where Smith loosens his form up enough to be able to receive the scattershot dancing of Stevens' approach. Picture Roy Haynes trying to free improv with Pat Martino for the first three tracks and you get the idea. Along about the fourth cut, Smith forgets about which notes he's supposed to play and just plays them, allowing all sorts of effects and "extra" notes to climb into the ring where Stevens greets them with glee. On cut five, Stevens whips out a pocket trumpet and gives Smith another series of tonalities to play off of,which he does with excellent taste and imagination. Tracks six and seven are where the Tower of Babel gets built, and the pair really dig into color, dynamics, and aggressive exercises in intonation and counterpoint before whirling off into the ether with a skronk fest. This is an excellent example of hearing how two players come to know each other and make some pretty fine music in the process.

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