Carei Thomas / Carei Thomas Feel Free Ensemble

Mining Our Bid'ness

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A lesser-known figure of the AACM, Carei Thomas has rarely recorded as a bandleader. Mining Our Bid'ness is not quite the definitive statement one could ask for, but it provides a good glimpse at the pianist's post-Monk free jazz. It has been recorded live at the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater in Minneapolis, on four different nights between September and December 2000, except for the first "Monsieur Duprée," taped in a studio in August. The lineup fluctuates, but mostly consists of Curlew saxophonist George Cartwright, trombone/horn player Steve Sandberg, bassist Brock Thornson, and drummer Alden Ikeda. Thomas' writing is strongly anchored in jazz, with references to Thelonious Monk, Paul Bley, and the softer side of Albert Ayler. There is lots of feeling in tunes like "Monsieur Duprée" (especially the longer live version) and "Accordance." Thomas' playing can be clunky at times, suddenly dropping the veil of grace to attack a chord for no obvious reason, but his phrasing caresses the ear and his melodies have a yearning quality that makes Cartwright and Sandberg's in-out-and-back-in solos sound right at home. Cartwright revels in the warm melodies of the softer tunes and approaches the head in "Magicmysticmaestromentor" from a typical and befitting Curlew angle. That piece, which has the angularity of Monk's writing, the live "Monsieur Duprée" (some inspired soloing from Thomas and Sandberg), and the beautiful show closer, "Accordance," are well worth hearing.

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