Philip Gibbs

Master Musicians of Mu

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Recorded over two studio sessions in late 1999/early 2000, Master Musicians of Mu is a duo of free improvisations between Paul Dunmall and Philip Gibbs. Dunmall (of the free improv quartet Mujician) performs on a variety of saxophones and bagpipes. His melodic style (on both categories of instruments) is well known, which is not the same with Gibbs, an obscure guitar player from Bristol. He is the surprise here. His very percussive playing on prepared acoustic and electric guitar completes perfectly the saxophone's swaying lines and the cornemuse's haunting tones. His sharp attack brings to mind a music box, while some of the metallic overtones he gets from his preparations evoke Gamelan -- or Rainer Wiens, for that matter. The results on "Call to Prayer" and "Ioanes" are more than impressive, they are downright disorienting. More conventional pieces, like "Dweller on the Threshold," with Dunmall on tenor sax, or "So I Must Sharpen My Sword-Spike and Then Be Off, Nephew" bring the listener back to jazzier pastures. The latter's title is the total antithesis of the music hidden within, a soft ballad with strummed chords, something like a 2000 incarnation of a Cole Porter song without words. It closes the CD on a classy note, as if it were a reward for the listener, a way to escort him back home at the end of a very original journey. Recommended (if you don't have a grudge against bagpipes, of course).

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