Paul Flaherty's projects with drummer Chris Corsano are following a steady increase plan. First there was the 2001 duo-CD The Hated Music. Then came Sannyasi in 2002, a trio session with Greg Kelley. And now this impressive quartet adding bassist Matt Heyner to the aforementioned three. Recorded at Peter Kontrimas' studio in August 2003, It's Magnificent but It Isn't War sees Flaherty and Corsano pursue their exploration of a new form of free jazz, instantaneous music fueled by rage and shaped by art, a blinding cross between European free improv wits and American punk angst. In other words: it's in your face, but it's also a lot more than that. Kelley's palette never ceases to impress. To think that this trumpeter who can play so quietly in nmpering that you wonder when his instrument will dissolve (or already has), can also blow his booty off, and sound genuinely convincing! It puts him among the very best of his generation, with only Axel Dörner matching that kind of stylistic scope. Corsano and Flaherty are their usual selves: powerful, relentless, and consistently riding the moment, pausing only to highlight their contribution by putting a lid on it for a little while. Heyner brings a nice bottom end to balance out the overall sound of this unit. He clearly has a good listening ear, but his arco playing lacks the gusto necessary to cut himself a firm place among this group. Still, he contributes great moments to "You Only Live for Infinity." Titles like "Never Give 'Em What They Want" and "Raising the Dead (Freezer Fight)" convey the general vehemence of the music. What they don't disclose is the sensibility also running through it. After all, Flaherty has the round sound and smooth phrasing of a ballad bopper -- he could switch over to the mainstream anytime if he wanted to. Luckily for us, he doesn't.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture