Lily's Déjà Vu

Music from Another Ass

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Scholars of creative improvisation accustomed to erudite commentary now have an opportunity to include the word "ass" in their rigorous critical analyses thanks to this October 2013 release by international avant jazz quartet Lily's Déjà Vu. Oddball title notwithstanding, Music from Another Ass, recorded at a studio in Amsterdam (where three of the four bandmembers live), offers up a challenging yet pleasing blend, effortlessly shifting between telepathic improvisational interplay and composed -- even melodically tuneful -- themes. The band is off to an intentionally clunky start with "Zoektocht Naar Jezeif," Jasper Stadhouders' thick electric bass and Marcos Baggiani's clattering percussion in a herky-jerky rhythm beneath composer Guillermo Celano's harmonically astringent electric guitar chording and Brooklyn-based tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock's clipped, blurted assertions. As improvised music goes, it's fun stuff, not only squeezed full of small four-way responsive gestures, but also bracketed by a stop-start theme that balances bluntness with a somewhat understated touch and Laubrock's agreeable tone even on a jumpy melody peppered with wide-interval leaps. Later on, after a short bit of slippery sax-and-guitar improvisational wandering, the band tackles the theme again, this time bridging into the tune's second-half buildup, beginning with free-form jazz and ending with a rockish guitar power chord-laden finale complete with screaming tenor accents. "Forgotten History," also penned by Celano, finds the quartet nimble and understated at the start, before raising and then lowering the dynamic beneath a Laubrock feature not unlike a Chris Speed tenor improvisation in tone and phrasing. The music drifts into near silence near the midpoint, marked only by Baggiani's hushed percussives, but before long Lily's Déjà Vu are charting a path back to the theme with a burst of energy seeming to blend circa-Starless and Bible Black King Crimson with the unbridled attack of Stadhouders' free jazz trio Cactus Truck.

Baggiani's "Copelado, Choking the Puppet" commences with a brief episode of pure galumphing skronk before launching into a crisp groove with memorably melodic themes and variations stated by Laubrock and Celano, sometimes even joining together in chiming harmony as the rhythm section tightens and loosens the reins. It's a catchy, accessible album highlight. Celano switches to acoustic on the Stadhouders composition "Gualtiero," the Buenos Aires-born guitarist imbuing the alternately winding, deliberate, and stormy number with Latin inflections, while Baggiani's "Les Indignés" finds the group in fragmented mode, hinting at the melody of a skewed indie rockish tune (à la Jim Black's AlasNoAxis) that finally emerges in full form after several minutes, until Laubrock and Baggiani explode it. Beginning as a sensitive duet for Laubrock and composer Celano, "Paradise" concludes with the full quartet both unsettled and subtle, the saxophonist quietly exploratory in the forefront. The album ends with Stadhouders' "Beverrat," featuring stops and starts, stuck-in-a-groove repetitions, Celano's most fiery playing of the disc, and slow dissipation into silence. A particularly rude, combative, and unsociable scholar of creative improvised music might use a choice word to describe the avant jazz fan who would ignore this fine record.

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