Trio X

Journey

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This is the fifth recording for Trio X, and, as with the others, it presents free jazz of the highest caliber. Producer Bob Rusch writes in the liner notes that the name of the group derives from a somewhat "cynical" reaction to the group being ignored at clubs and festivals, with the name signifying "...the unknown, unrecognized, and unacknowledged participants." In truth, you could not ask for a more accomplished, in-synch set of musical partners. There is a near-perfect synergy among them, so much so that they seem to anticipate each other's every move, almost like dancers who instinctively follow one another's steps. One of the criticisms of the seemingly ubiquitous sax-with-rhythm trio is that each one tends to sound the same. These fellows break the mold by refusing to indulge exclusively in the mind-numbing ecstatic blow-outs that are so common. Much of the credit is due to Joe McPhee's exquisite sense of melody: even when intense, he infuses every note with thoughtful control. The results reflect the group's natural reticence and attraction to nuance, something that is especially evident on "Journey." Overall, though, this is not music for the fainthearted, as delicacy is juxtaposed with aggressive expression. On "Albert's Alto," for example, the ghost of Albert Ayler is resurrected but never cloned, and his spirit absorbed and reincarnated. The closing "Amazing Grace," in memory of Dominic Duval's late wife, is perhaps the highlight of the album, a lovely, even exquisitely executed reflection of deeply held sentiments.

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