Barry Guy

Improvisations Are Forever Now

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Bassist Barry Guy, pianist Howard Riley, and violinist Philipp Wachsmann recorded the first eight of these trio improvisations in 1977, and they were released on LP the following year. The remaining three tracks were recorded about a year later and were not commercially released before their appearance on this CD. The music itself is rather harsh and forbidding, even by the rather rigorous standards set by many of the other artists who regularly record for the Emanem label. It is by no means melodic, nor is harmony much of a factor for the most part. Instead, the musical interest comes from the rhythmic and textural interaction between the three players; Wachsmann and Guy both make liberal use of electronic amplification and devices, with the result that their instruments are not easily recognizable as a violin and a contrabass; Riley's technique is more conventional, though on several tracks (notably "Trio Five" and "Trio Ten") he dampens the piano strings with one hand while playing with the other. The combined effect can sometimes be downright frightening: "Trio Two" sounds like what one might expect to hear if an insane pianist was trapped in a forest and surrounded by swarms of insects; other tracks are characterized by great stretches of silence followed by creaky, scratchy, and sometimes eerie sounds that eventually emerge from the void. "Trio Three" is spare to the point of severity, while "Trio Six" sounds like a piano solo until you realize the strings are there, playing pizzicato quietly behind the piano. No one who is wary of improvisational music is likely to be converted by this disc. For those with ears to hear, however, it will be a challenging but rewarding listen.

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