Jeff Beck... playing Vienne this summer. Above roaring after a Mahavishnu opening into a Billy Cobham classic completely in the zone at no. 47 with the Vinman, Jason Rebello, and Aussie bass guitarist Tal Wilkenfeld.
Switching Pleonid on and enjoying it so much earlier made me feel nostalgic. And yet this music is anti-nostalgia. We may all prefer to float with good reason in the here and now and yet a recording is always about the past. On hearing the contribution within the collective sound flavoured initially by Steve Swell the sound of Roswell Rudd vaults like a talismanic vision to mind, a player who has towered over a big swathe of avant trombone for decades, the slack taken up by Samuel Blaser in more recent years as an unofficial kindred spirit. Bass guitarist Stuart Popejoy’s composition for quintet released earlier this month on the Leo label Pleonid dates back five years in time, the place New York. Look at their names up there above the line, Sarah Bernstein is on violin, Avram Fefer on alto saxophone, Swell referred to earlier sliding along on trombone, Popejoy himself on bass guitar, and the erstwhile Frisellian Kenny Wolleson, vibes and drums. Popejoy points himself towards counterpoint via improvisation and customised software that he has designed making use of braid theory in doing the maths. There’s a real collective heat and sense of exploration that actually gets somewhere throughout this hour-long continuous work and which thrives on an open atmosphere throughout that does not rely on a set drum pattern or the discipline of exacting bebop changes preferring instead the fluidity and melt of dissonance, textures clashing and resolving somehow in the discovery of their achieved sense of communal tonality. The calibre of the Mark Feldman-like violin contribution offset in the flow of the piece by probingly unfettered bass takes up the slack on an album that might as well be subtitled “perhaps” one of the most significant words in any artist’s vocabulary. There are no pejorative maybes at all however on this sparkling listen that unfolds into an Ornettian omniverse. Just be good to yourself and go listen.
IMPROV CHOICE: RECOMMENDED
Rocking Ballyshannon in county Donegal, Ireland, at Roryfest over 31 May-3 June are Wilko Johnson, Walter Trout and his Band, Wishbone Ash, Seamie O'Dowd, Pat McManus and Johnny Gallagher among the seriously tasty headliners: see the full programme.