This trio's second album is far better than its first. The music sounds more involved, engaging, and vital -- friskier too. Undersound II was recorded on December 6, 2000, live at Casa del Popolo in Montréal. Bassist Dominic Duval, drummer John Heward, and saxophonist Joe McPhee opened their set with a 26-minute blast of free improvisation intertwined with fire music. McPhee's tenor develops a voice of its own, drawing the rhythm section into an endless spiral of energy. Where the first album by these musicians focused on short quiet improvs, here they let it out, without losing intensity or direction. "Undersound 12" explores calmer grounds. This time Duval leads the way, his bowing calling for a more textural approach. Malcolm Goldstein joins the trio for five minutes. Duval and McPhee immediately adapt to the violinist's highly meditative style, but the drummer can't seem to fit in. Had he sat this one out, it would have been the disc's highlight. "Undersound 14 (Going Home)" begins with a beautiful sax/bass instantaneous bop ballad that gradually gets out of hand and is finally tamed, to the listeners' delight. This is a great live gig, well balanced between emotion and energy, abstract inventiveness and soul -- the kind of album you can come back to regularly for a number of reasons. A monument to the art of these three performers, it can only be highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture