Blistering, ferocious, harsh, abrasive, confrontational -- quite often, the adjectives that are typically used to describe death metal, grindcore, and metalcore have also been used to describe the more militant side of free jazz. Charles Gayle and post-1965 John Coltrane -- two examples of avant-garde jazz taken to a brutal extreme -- are not for the faint of heart any more than Slayer or Cannibal Corpse. In fact, some of Coltrane's most devoted fans have a hard time comprehending his post-1965 work. But the AACM has, on numerous occasions, demonstrated that not all avant-garde jazz favors a take-no-prisoners aesthetic, and Song Songs Song easily represents that kinder, gentler school of outside playing. This 2004 date, which finds Jeff Parker and Scott Fields joining forces for a two-guitar duet, is not about in-your-face confrontation; instead, the guitarists favor a pensive, reflective approach to outside playing. Song Songs Song is far from a straight-ahead bop album; the performances are as abstract and cerebral as they are spacy and eerie. But they aren't harsh or militant by any means; nor are they dense. While extreme density can give Gayle and post-1965 Coltrane -- or, for that matter, Slayer's death metal -- a claustrophobic quality, Parker and Fields thrive on the use of space. Instead of trying to cram as many notes as possible into a solo, they choose their notes in a more careful, deliberate fashion. That isn't to say that the two guitarists don't improvise; improvisation and spontaneity are a major part of what they do on Song Songs Song. But it's a thoughtful spontaneity -- a thoughtful way of exploring the abstract and the intellectual. Admirers of the AACM school of outside expression will find a lot to like about the dialogue that Parker and Fields enjoy on Song Songs Song.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson