The second night of the 1989 reunion in New York of the 1961-1962 Jimmy Giuffre 3 with pianist Paul Bley and (now electric) bassist Steve Swallow in some ways eclipses the first. The fact that there is more integration between the trio members as a whole than on the first evening is certainly one place to start. At the very beginning, "Sensing" -- with Giuffre on soprano and Bley playing bass notes in the lowest register as Swallow enters and takes over the role and Bley moves to the middle -- is a stunner, though it is only four minutes and 13 seconds long. The breadth of the players seems to have come back to them as a unit with these live, as-they-happened, no-second-take performances. There are six full performances here -- and oddly enough the most satisfying of them is a composed piece by Carla Bley entitled "Where Were We?" -- instead of three from the previous evening. Giuffre is more comfortable on the soprano here, and the duos are quite literally amazing. Bley has a pair of piano solos, Giuffre has one clarinet solo, and the rest are duos made up of either bass and piano, clarinet and bass, soprano and piano, soprano and bass, etc. The joy of music-making and the inherent lyricism in these pieces reflect not only a sense of familiarity with the dialogue and improvisational feel of each player, but the true desire to communicate from inside the sound being explored to the listener as well. There may have been a few more viscerally exciting performances by vanguard jazz trios during 1989, but few of them that revealed -- via the strength of restraint -- what tonality, dissonance, and harmony can achieve when what is explored is music for its own sake. Highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek