John Stevens

One Time

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Recorded in 1992 at a concert -- and the only time these men ever played as a trio (there was more work planned, but Stevens died in 1993) -- One Time features a lineup so indicative of the "Incus experience" it's no wonder it comes off as so warm and bubbly that you'll feel the music was made inside your own body. With Derek Bailey playing only electric guitar, an instrument that for him provides for a nearly infinite numbers of timbral combinations, Kent Carter on an acoustic bass tuned very low, and Stevens on his tiny drum kit and mini-trumpet, there are peerless sound worlds here to visit -- and they get to most of them. While there are titles, they are more reference points in the music's development than anything else. What transpires here is an extension of the work that took place in Steven's Spontaneous Music Ensemble, though in a larger fashion. Musically, there are nothing but plinks, plonks, scratches, and rubs, a crash here and there, but mostly not, all at varying tempos. Nonetheless, these sounds have a purpose in that they create the syllables of a language that is not only personal to the trio who are sending them to one another to be built upon, stretched, contorted, or discarded in place of something else, but for the listener to finder herself within them, for however brief a period. The music made here is quiet and non-insistent because it is so very busy, so communicative of everything from emotions to intellectual processes to humor. Given that this was one of Stevens last sessions, it is a fitting interior portrait and tribute to a man who was forever on the outside.

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