By: Chris Baber, Jazz Views
Tim Haldeman: tenor saxophone, flute, piano; John Goode: words / vocals; Dan Bennett: alto saxophone; Justin Walter: trumpet; Jordan Schug: cello; Jonathan Taylor: drums; Ben Willis: bass
Recorded by Josef Dean
The ominous piano chords herald Chicago-based poet Goode’s opening lines ‘I followed whiskey into the county of Legionella / Through the buzzing shotgun carcasses and moon-coloured milk weed’. I’m not sure what the words mean, by there is the logic of Beat poetry in them and the accompanying music as it shifts from scrapped ‘cello to some rousing post-bop saxophone. Haldeman, Bennett, Walter and Schug have played as a unit for many years, and there is a tightness in the way their twist and turn like a murmuration of starlings on the more complex sections. To their credit, Taylor and Willis fit right in and add a driving pulse to each piece. A similar approach is taken on ‘Weld flashes / Open water’ (track 4). There is, on these tracks, much of the excitement of the first wave of Free Jazz of the 1960s, with the combined saxophones and trumpet over arco strings and swinging drumming. Just when you think you have the measure of this music, it segues into a funereal ‘As good as gone’, with trumpet playing a lament that is interspersed with rising chords from the combined horns before they drop to leave the trumpet to its musings. I particularly like the way that Walter plays with rhythms in his phrasing. From about midway, a buoyant bass line stirs the trumpet into something fiercer, before this fades into delicately bowed strings and soft cymbals and closing of a rising chorus of horns. The next track opens with flute before before kicking into a delightfully complicated drum pattern that hints at all manner of dance music but never settles in any one style and over which sax solos soar. Having demonstrated his talents of reeds, particularly with some muscular tenor playing, Haldeman closes the album with some ingenious piano playing behind Goode’s closing poem.