John Heward

Let Them Pass (Laissez-Passer)

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The liner notes on Let Them Pass (Laissez-Passer) suggest that this free improv session was meant to be a meditation on the immigration stories of the ancestors of the three musicians, drummer John Heward, reedsman Joe Giardullo and bassist Mike Bisio. The fact that this seven-part improvisation doesn't really work as program music is probably a point in its favor, as a too on-the-nose musical interpretation of these stories would lead to restricted, stilted music. Far from it; this trio, led by Montreal-based drummer Heward, stretches out over the course of these seven untitled improvisations, ranging from classic amelodic experimentalism (such as the frenzied bowed-bass solo on "Let Them Pass Two") to the contemplative open spaces of the centerpiece track "Let Them Pass Four," an extended meditation for bass clarinet and kalimba. More examples of this graceful musical spaciousness would help to break up the sheets-of-sound-howling of the opening and closing tracks, but overall, Let Them Pass (Laissez-Passer) feels better thought out than many similar free improv sessions.

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