Henry Kaiser

Improvised (Vancouver)

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While both men on this recording have gone on to bigger things, it would be difficult to claim they did anything better than the three concerts documented here, two from 1978 and one from 1996, all of them recorded at the Western Front in Vancouver. The John Oswald on this disc is the saxophonist, not the plunderphonics genius (yes, they are the same man but there were no plunderphonics in 1978). These dates, so difficult to tell apart because of their exacting material set ups, are revelatory in the way that they tell the real story of an event -- or series of them -- where two men walk in off the street, get their gear together, and go about making music of such uncommon quality and range, with little if any forethought of what it might sound like. The notions of attack, dynamic, harmonics, and timbral invention were all created on the spot in a unique language that exists only between these two improvisers; for the doubting Thomases, give a listen to any work by either man and you'll hear the evidence for yourself. The linguistic considerations ought to bear by such a collaboration are no doubt the result of much hard work and intent listening, but the execution appears effortless and full of humor and grace. From ribbons of sound note skeins on soprano, tenor, and alto saxophones to bent string tremolo techniques whispering and then shouting their assent, these proceedings stray from the path of competition toward the shared terrain of collaboration and mutual imaginational intrigue. There are no seams between concerts or years, and no lapses in judgment or quality -- let alone invention -- in this music. Just turn it up all the way and let it wash all over you. Amazing.

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