Peter Fraize


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This follow-up to the hard-to-find album Deconstruction, recorded on the Italian Pentaflowers label, is a splendid introduction to the enormous abilities of the unlikely combination of Washington-based saxophonist Peter Fraize and Italian trombonist Giancarlo Schiaffini. Boasting an unusual front line of two saxes and trombone, and a rhythm section on three of the tracks of two string basses and drums (bassist Vattel Cherry sits out of two numbers), there is a visceral energy that spans genres. The opening "St. James Infirmary" espouses that old-time religion, updated to incorporate the modern idiom of free jazz improvisation, while Schiaffini's take-off of "Wednesday the 17th" is clearly a variation on Monk's "Friday the Thirteenth." The remaining tunes, all of which are originals by members of the group, revel in their freewheeling exuberance. Surprises abound, as the little-known Fraize, for example, shows a sophistication and vocabulary that mark him as a player of the highest caliber. On his brilliant and highly accessible "Plain Folk," his extended improvisation is a virtual tour de force. The crowd-pleasing Jesse Meman, too, impressively incorporates a wildly emotional blues aesthetic with technical expertise, while the legendary Schiaffini alternates between plunger mute and an individual post-'60s avant-garde style. For a live performance, the sound is remarkably clear, and the lengthy tracks give plenty of space for all the players to strut their wares.

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