In the late '60s, bassist Barre Phillips recorded his first solo bass album, Journal Violone. It has been hailed as a classic of extended technique and free improvisation on this particular instrument. Phillips occasionally used the same title for his subsequent solo recordings, prompting often disgraceful comparisons. Of course, things have changed. Extended techniques have spread -- battalions of young bassists use them in avant-garde music. If Phillips has not reinvented his playing considerably since then, he still has the fire within. Proof can be found in Journal Violone 9, a set of studio improvs recorded over two days in March 2000. The CD begins with a long piece, the 17-minute "Time, Our Time," a nice display of dynamics using only pizzicato playing. "Dear Doctor" contains some passionate strikes of the bow and "Windwalk" gets very evocative, especially when Phillips dives into a ultra-quiet passage. Phillips was one of the first bassists of his generation to move completely out of jazz. On this CD he stands his ground, using every possible mean to extract sound from his instrument without becoming lyrical, tonal, or jazzy (with one exception: "Row Bear"). He has achieved better results (his CD, Camouflage, for Disques Victo comes to mind), but Journal Violone 9 still makes a worthy addition to his discography and will appeal to fans of Barry Guy and Peter Niklas Wilson.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture