The Sea Ensemble

We Move Together

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By the early '70s, the heyday of Bernard Stollman's estimable ESP-Disk label was ending. The New York free jazz scene that had first guided the label was dissolving, and the label's quirky rock acts -- like the Fugs, Pearls Before Swine, and the Godz -- were either jumping to larger labels or breaking up. New acts like Emerson's Old-Time Custard-Suckin' Band weren't picking up the slack, either, and so by 1974, ESP-Disk was mostly preoccupied with issuing old radio broadcasts and live tapes of Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday. The next-to-last new release on ESP-Disk before the label was shuttered in 1975, the Sea Ensemble's We Move Together, harkens back to the label's mid-'60s avant-garde heyday. The husband-and-wife duo of Donald Rafael Garrett and Zussan Kali Fasteau rattles, strums, and bangs a variety of mostly percussion instruments, with bass, cello, clarinet, and piano sharing space with then-novel Asian instruments like the nye, shakuhachi (a Japanese bamboo flute), and sheng (a Chinese free reed instrument roughly akin to a pan flute). The four shorter pieces on side one explore a variety of moods and sounds, but the 20-minute epic on side two, "Stork Cools Its Wings," builds to an almost violent climax before returning to its placid beginnings. Unlike many pieces of free music, it has an almost traditional structure to it, which makes We Move Together a good album for the curious novice.

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