Free Jazz Quartet

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Premonitions Review

by Thom Jurek

Britain's Free Jazz Quartet is comprised of trombonist Paul Rutherford, reed and woodwind man Harrison Smith, cellist Tony Moore, and drummer Eddie Prévost. Recorded in 1989 in Oxford, the offering here, a series of mid-length improv pieces, bears up well under the free jazz moniker and leaves all the "new music" clichés to another day. Here, the dictates of a European free jazz mapped out by Evan Parker, Tony Coe, Lol Coxhill, and others are adhered to with the notion of improvisation being the sum total for interrelational dialogue among instruments. One of the things this quartet does very well -- and perhaps it's because they have a cellist instead of a bassist proper -- is pursue chromatic and dynamic approaches to harmonic invention as opposed to the reliance on individual soloists to create or destroy a particular idea. On "Roman Geese," where Moore plays pizzicato in a wide open space created previously by swirling horn and drum activity, only Prévost lends accompaniment to his interrogation of the three previously introduced modalities. In other places, where the two horns make up a more conventional front line, as they do on "Red Flags" and "Graffito," the rhythm section carves spatial intermodulations out of the interaction between the horns. As the front line responds and the rhythm section widens out a bit more, what transpires is a kind of harmonic bridge-building where every section is unveiled before being nailed down and, as such, dynamic interplay in the creation and dissolution of tensions becomes paramount. This is an excellent example of how truly "free jazz" never forgets where it comes from in the music-making pantheon and, as such, this is a challenging and wondrous album full of color, flavor, and impeccable musicianship.

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