Damon Short

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AllMusic Review by

Chicagoan's Damon Short (drums) and Paul Scea (woodwinds) come from the free school of thinkers and improvisers à la Ornette Coleman, the Art Ensemble and (in Short's case) Ed Blackwell or Sunny Murray, among others. They live in the present,, are not afraid to play what they feel, and hope you will listen closely to what they have in mind -- avant but not guarded. There's nothing timid about this richly textured quartet, which also features the unabashed bass punctuations of Noel Kupersmith and the unique bass trumpet howls and roars of Ryan Shultz. They are not noisy or chattery, but instead deliberate, patient, and choosy in the notes and soundscapes they sculpt. Scea can get a little snarly as on "Figure 37," but he can also play flute with beauty and passion as on the title track. The band swings with ease on the mysterious, head noddin' "Back from Lunch," a workout for Scea's bass clarinet, as well as during the ribald, melodic drum and horn lines of "Swallowing the Sun." Some intense flute/trumpet unison lines work to great effect on "Raze Al," or the free bop dueling conversation of the walk-and-squawk horns on "Bullets." The post-Ornette piece of Short's "Toll Free" sets the tone at the outset, and marks the drummer throughout the entire CD as not only a creative and singularly minded composer (both he and Scea each wrote one-half of the eight tracks) but a percussionist with extraordinary vision and purpose. This is a beautifully conceived and realized modern music project, tapping on past master works but attaining a sound that is all theirs. It's a cutting-edge music made by four progressivists who act as individuals working on the same boldly italicized page.

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