Paul Hession


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The modern saxophone-led power trio is a difficult act to maintain, not the least because its many permutations have been so thoroughly and vigorously exhausted. That Hession, Wharf, and Fell are able to exploit it for additional yardage is a tribute to the quality of their vision and their excellence as performers. Each of the five tracks appears to be freely improvised with varying degrees of intensity. Make no mistake -- this is one muscular session, with the volume generally revved and a mesmerizing, bold quality even when the volume subsides. Wharf gives it some variety with his mixture of reeds: bass clarinet and soprano and tenor saxophones. He is impressive on all three, but perhaps because it is less-widely performed, he is most interesting on the former. Wharf can sustain a slowly (and sometimes not so slowly) building improvisation over a stretch of many measures, while Fell's bass and Hession's drums fill, jab, and seduce with equally powerful, thrusting clusters. The bassist is particularly impressive, with his never-ending attacks on the strings laying a formidable foundation. (Just hear him go in the trenches on "The Interior of Sight.") One of the most underrated of contemporary bassists, Fell persistently and consistently powers from the bottom, bringing to mind contemporaries such as William Parker and Barry Guy. Hession, too, is distinguished by a disciplined tenacity that translates to a never-ending swirl of polished waves of sound. As a trio, there is an energized synergy that rarely lets up. Fans of Peter Brötzmann, John Butcher, and Evan Parker will appreciate the musicianship charged by an unabated electrical current that takes no prisoners. To be sure, some of it has been done before by others, at least in concept, but not always with the tastefulness and variety of this trio.

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