New Music for Woodwinds and Voice; An Interesting Breakfast Conversation

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For the introduction of his new record label Mutable Music, new music vocalist Thomas Buckner decided to reissue as a two-CD set the two LPs his trio Space had released in the early '80s on his previous label, 1750 Arch Records. Both feature the same lineup: Buckner on "extended voice," and Roscoe Mitchell and Gerald Oshita on an arsenal of saxophones and clarinets. New Music for Woodwinds and Voice (1981) contains four compositions, while An Interesting Breakfast Conversation (1984) presents seven group improvisations. This is a chance to rediscover Oshita, who died in 1992 without getting the recognition he deserved. His playing on these two recordings is exuberant, tortured, and inventive to the bone. The sax/voice/sax trio format works very nicely, even though on the first CD Buckner tends to be buried in the mix and under-used. The compositions remain textural and blend elements from both classical and jazz idioms -- interesting but a little dry. The improvisation CD truly illustrates what this trio was capable of. "An Interesting Breakfast Conversation" opens the set frenetically, with Buckner's voice turning into a third saxophone as the three of them engage in a dizzying polyphonic dance. On the other end of the spectrum is the delicate, sustained notes of "Phonics." "Journeys" reverts to more contemporary classical stylings, but still taps into something deeper and very moving. The wide range of saxophones used insures the listener against linearity. Both albums sound as fresh and new today as they did in the 1980s. With a price tag in the two-for-the-price-of-one range, this historical set becomes a must-have.

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