Team Up is a free improv trio consisting of Jeremy Drake on amplified acoustic guitar, Stephen Flinn on percussion, and Chris Heenan on alto sax, bass, and contrabass clarinets. Heenan and Drake are co-organizers of the Line Space Line festival and appear on Mount Washington's debut release, also on Reify. If Heenan's duo CD with Chris Forsyth sees him focus on very fragile overtones, here he comes through as a more extroverted player, balancing a sense of space and silence with bounce and a little more testosterone. This studio session, recorded in November 2003, is filled with contrasting dynamics, sudden textural shifts, and other surprises. Heenan simply dazzles: his control over the behemoth contrabass clarinet is impressive. He can squeeze out of it the tiniest overtones and the harshest screams, with the kind of flexibility John Butcher displays on tenor sax. Drake's work on the amplified acoustic guitar occasionally recalls John Russell's undecipherable logic, but most of the time he explores reified (and rarefied) textures. Flinn switches between cymbal bowing and Paul Lytton-esque free playing, holding the weight of the mood on his shoulders. "Defamiliarizing the Table" and "A Certain Distance Between Individuals" are two fabulous examples of a finely attuned trio of musicians capable of understanding and surprising each other. "Nearby Objects Leading Others to Recede" and "The Oscillation of Arc & Circle" explore outstretched, silence-filled atmospheres. Team Up makes use of the "quiet" aesthetics that have developed in the late '90s and early 2000s in free improvisation, but the group integrates it into a bigger picture. Demanding, but highly rewarding.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture