Keith Hedger


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This vanguard jazz quartet featuring saxophonist Charlie Kolhase, trumpeter Keith Hedger, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Curt Newton is one of those fine examples of how free jazz works if all the players in a band are dedicated to playing it as opposed to including in nothing but improvisational masturbation and calling it free jazz. These cats, when playing something that they come up with on the spot try to touch all the bases, like "Kubrick," with its ostinato saxophone figures that are extended into new harmonic territory by Hedger's trumpet and pulled at from the inside by the rhythm section until its time for Kolhase's solo when they redesign the three time figures they started with. On a jazz classic like "Au Privave," they carry the melody through its first and second set of changes, and then begin to extrapolate the harmonic elements that created it and usher in new ones without abandoning the structure of the tune. Newton and McBride don't play the original changes in tandem, but fortify the new ones with what they can of the old while moving the pulse to accommodate the soloists. Then there's "The Logic of Ants," which utilizes each player's sense of how intervals are built in tonal studies against rhythmic counterpoint. There are rounds of sonic discourse at work here, fluttering through the mix, weaving, twining, and burning into the pillars of the tune's mannerism until what is reached is a new paradigm for harmonic inquiry into a particular structure and it goes out in cascades, truly reinvented with full participation of the quartet. Finally there is a cut like "Toru," with it's Ornette-like swinging blues line, trumped over by the double timing drums and rounded edges of the horns. Space and placement here become everything -- and it's obvious why, since it's named after the late Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. The bassline becomes a walking line out to the harmonic interaction between Kolhase and Hedger, who never cross each other's lines, but instead complement and extend them. This is a truly remarkable album of modern and true free jazz, that stands as a signature example of what the genre is about and hopes to accomplish through the ambitions and abilities of its players.

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