Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Moss Freed and Union Division, Micromotives, Discus Music ***

Union Division generate their own tonality and sense of time. If you appreciate conduction, an underlying soundworld that springs to mind, a systemised hand signal triggered improvising style championed by Butch Morris (1947-2013) then this is a …

Published: 30 Jan 2023. Updated: 17 months.

Union Division generate their own tonality and sense of time. If you appreciate conduction, an underlying soundworld that springs to mind, a systemised hand signal triggered improvising style championed by Butch Morris (1947-2013) then this is a must. ''Micromotives'' is the name for guitarist Moss Freed's own music theory and is according to his website ''a compositional system and set of pieces that is as flexible as the players, retaining levels of freedom akin to those found in small group free improvisation.''

Improvised via Micromotives thinking, either including but just as easily ignoring entirely set suggestions, the communitarianism is navigated by hand signals. And the pantheon to whom the collective doffs its hat to involves composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, electronic music experimental composer Pauline Oliveros, the Stravinsky, jazz and minimalist-influenced composer Louis Andriessen, free-jazz saxophonist composer John Zorn, the Cagian Christian Wolff, godfather of minimalism Terry Riley and avant bassist Barry Guy. The dedicatees tell a certain story and what their music - a sound not heard on any typical Jazz FM playlist - stands for in combination if you create in your own mind a thought experiment palimpset locates this remarkable endeavour up to a point. And yet the final leg of the listening journey, the end user loop if you like when all influences are packed away once their role as a kind of sonic realia is over, is uniquely Union Division's home signal.

Played by a medium sized group of advanced UK jazz and non-aligned improvising musicians, Freed is best known for his work with Let Spin and in this very different gathering alongside him - the group is the ultimate instrument of all adhering to an idea borne through method - are trumpeters Laura Jurd best known for the band Dinosaur, Mopomoso leading light Charlotte Keeffe, Zorn specialist Sam Eastmond, trombonist Tullis Rennie, saxophonists Rachel Musson, George Crowley, Chris Williams (Freed's Let Spin bandmate), flautist Rosanna Ter-Berg, cellist Brice Catherin, double bassist Otto Wilberg, pianists iconic Cagian Steve Beresford and radical improviser Elliot Galvin, drummers Will Glaser and James Maddren stunning in an entirely different context last year on Vermillion, plus on electronics and bass guitar Pierre Alexandre Tremblay.

Opener 'Union of Egoists' the Braxton homage is sprawling and maximalist and you immediately gain a sense of invigorating freedom. The role of piano is far more important on the dedicated to Oliveros piece while 'Left Leaning' has more a punk intensity. The opening section of 'Kilter,' the Zorn homage, is certainly one chief highlight but there is a lot here that works just as well.

Moss Freed, photo: publicity shot

Available via Discus Music

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Gig of the week and sounds around

Capital City Jazz Orchestra with special guest soloist Alison Jiear St David's Hall, Cardiff Tuesday 31 January Tony Burkill Seven Arts, Leeds Wednesday 1 February Leeds scenester tenorist Tony Burkill known for Work Money Death is a spiritual …

Published: 30 Jan 2023. Updated: 17 months.

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Leeds scenester tenorist Tony Burkill known for Work Money Death is a spiritual jazz journeyman who keeps it real in the same way as Coltranian Nat Birchall never sells anyone short.

Adventurous saxist Lloyd appears with pianist John Law, bassist Henrik Jensen and drummer Andy Chapman.

GIG OF THE WEEK

With their third studio album on release Beats & Pieces Big Band 14 years on sound as good as ever pushing at the boundaries of big band which in lesser hands is an anomaly. The real meat of the album centres on the tough, cynical, world weary 'Op' while the elastic feel of 'Elegy' and above all in terms of confounding our expectations the tender 'Cminriff' are key tracks. Ben Cottrell's outfit recorded Good Days in Scotland and Manchester and utilise field recordings from Bern and Berlin. Tunes are mainly by the visionary Cottrell plus a couple by saxist Anthony Brown and one, 'Op', (streaming already) by drummer Finlay Panter. Where the band really comes into its own is when it does rain streaked melancholy and becomes more intimate as on 'Cminriff' which is not easy given the arsenal at the band's disposal that needs using. They all can't resist a bit of a blast when they get past the opening pleasantries of '(Blues for) Linu' and go raucous on 'Woody'. But stylistically Beats & Pieces are hard to place - they aren't old fashioned or at all American sounding in outlook. And they aren't avant-garde either. But they do deliver some individual statements that play with the form and manage to somehow locate intimacy even when everything goes full tonto. Their northernness certainly wins out in the end.

Beats & Pieces Big Band, photo: publicity shot, play Sheffield on Friday night