Harvey Sorgen

Novella

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Prog rock drummer Harvey Sorgen curiously augments this trio, comprised of two free jazz players in pianist Michael Jefry Stevens and bassist Steve Rust. On three tracks, violinist Todd Reynolds joins the trio. With 15 pieces being played in one hour, none of the collective improvisations here last more than six and a half minutes, with most being in the three- to four-minute ranges. This is a good thing! The trio has developed a loaded, symbol-filled vocabulary with which they communicate. Using basic triads and key signatures, the trio develops an idea just enough to let it flower, and then leaves it. There are no extended dialogues because the focus of the band is simply to establish an idea through dialogue, and to do it collectively. How refreshing. On "Drolatique," the longest cut here, Thelonious Monk becomes the central figure with harmonic intervals from his Blue Monk and Evidence albums, the trio fusing together the bassline and the widely chorded melody. As each member takes a brief solo, Monk disappears into the idea of Monk created by the music, and harmonic intervals get shifted to the material offered in the various solos. Elsewhere, on "Poe's Tango," the right-hand lines of Stevens become form, Rust provides the place where small chords grow into flourishes from the piano, and Sorgen punches through it all with doubles and triples, as if they were arpeggios. There is no math in this language, it's as elemental as stone, and ideas are exchanged for dialogues about them and then dismissed into the ether in order to move on to the next idea. This is meta-jazz -- jazz about jazz -- and it doesn't have to concern itself with either swinging, or being "too free" or not free enough. It's musical as all get-out and offers a very unusual portrait of a trio trying to come to grips with how to speak to the many ideas that present themselves in improvisation without being enslaved by any one of them.

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