You can rave about the interplay between the improvisers, their level of listening, their dedication to a group sound, and the excitement it generates, but in the end a good free improv session is just that: damn good. That is what Real Time comes to. Recorded live in Cambridge, MA, probably in 1998 (the year it was released), this trio date throws together pianist Dan de Chellis, guitarist Philip Tomasic, and drummer Tatsuya Nakatani. de Chellis has rarely sounded this trashy: fists hammer at the keys and fingers spit lightning-speed runs in the upper register. The influence of Cecil Taylor, along with Keith Tippett, is palpable but well digested. His solo at the end of the second piece could stand as a manifesto for a new generation of fire musicians. Tomasic takes second chair -- willingly, it seems. Unassertive except in the last half of the first piece, he weaves in his bottleneck lines and abstract, Derek Bailey-like picking runs, generally teaming up with the percussion instead of the piano. Nakatani provides all kinds of strange percussion sounds and delicate playing. Besides the piano solo, the other highlight is found in the first five minutes of the third of these "Three Pieces for Trio," where the musicians quiet down, teasing each other and waiting to see who will open up the hostilities for the final draw. The cataclysm that ensues is worth the wait. If anyone asks you about the state of free improv in the Northeast U.S., play this disc. It's doing fine.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture