The epic Freetrio

Fine free-jazz trumpeter Loz Speyer explains on his Spherical Records Bandcamp page the background to Open Territory that the label is releasing in December. Ahead of its release there is an excellent 30-minute plus track that represents the title …

Published: 3 Oct 2021. Updated: 12 days.

Fine free-jazz trumpeter Loz Speyer explains on his Spherical Records Bandcamp page the background to Open Territory that the label is releasing in December. Ahead of its release there is an excellent 30-minute plus track that represents the title track streaming on Bandcamp and which was recorded in 2009. Loz takes us back to the period of recording. He says: ''Between February 2009 and December 2011 this free trio met and played round at my house a fair number of times. We never played a gig but we recorded everything, which amounted to about nine hours of music. This year I sat down and listened to all of it for the first time!''

Sadly the drummer on the record, Tony Marsh, died in 2012. Known mainly as a free improviser performing with among other luminaries Evan Parker however a year after his death there was a fine reissue of a very different stylistic time in his career with the release of jazz blues rock pub band Major Surgery's The First Cut that served as a testament to another aspect of Marsh's music-making earlier in his life. Open Territory certainly piques interest in his free-jazz recordings with this unknown seam now surfacing and is certainly worth getting.

On the track Loz injects a Bobby Bradford-like personality to the sound and I suppose Marsh isn't a million miles away in style to Ed Blackwell, another Ornettian and free-jazz pioneer, especially on the more bustling sections. In terms of later players he also corresponds with how Jeff Williams sounds playing freer. Devon-born bassist Olly Blanchflower reminds me of another Olie, Olie Brice, stylistically and there is great chemistry between all three players, the switching of emphasis and momentum criss-crossing between trumpet and drums steered admirably by Blanchflower's elastic beat.

Loz comments on the Bandcamp page description for the release: ''For a trumpeter, playing in a trio of trumpet, bass and drums can be both ideal and 'the ultimate challenge'! Ideal for the freedom it gives, there's loads of space to really hear everyone to the full, the elements of music are all there pared down to essentials, and you can really interact. It's a line-up I keep returning to, sometimes with compositions framing the improv, even standards – always the key is that open sound.''

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James Brandon Lewis, 'Resonance,' Intakt ****

The Molecular quartet is once again deeply impressive: Should you venture into the mystic ever reverie-bound you may however waywardly think that you are able to guess the future however adamant that you are at all times working on hard evidence. …

Published: 3 Oct 2021. Updated: 24 days.

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The Molecular quartet is once again deeply impressive: Should you venture into the mystic ever reverie-bound you may however waywardly think that you are able to guess the future however adamant that you are at all times working on hard evidence. Not recommendable as an activity at all when it comes to artistic matters. But indulge me to stick with the notion. You could do worse than consult the in-house crystal ball and come away thinking just which pieces that are more or less brand new have even half-a-chance of their being covered by other people pretty much soon; or even becoming a recognised standard (a bigger ask). 'Resonance' is that unicorn as the hunch persists and the future-gazing takes hold pipe smokingly. At the very least garland this track, someone, with awards to commemorate its momentousness. Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis is properly known as a free improviser and already one of its most high profile stars (Jesup Wagon this year is his masterwork) and most free-improv doesn't lend itself to becoming standards fodder certainly in a winsomely toothsome sense. The opening ''head'' and main trajectory of his composition 'Resonance' surrounded by a deftly tidal groove lasts for about 90 seconds, an exception that proves the rule, is that rare miracle of a freeness that is eminently coverable. A beautiful theme and a wonderful playing statement from Lewis leads to a brief reset when the quartet take the whole thing quite a bit out without completely heading for meltdown. So it all becomes a prime example of a situation when there is freedom and discipline co-existing side by side, a format that allows the development and integration of style through melody to just as importantly embrace the range and rigour of detailed improvisation to create a meaningful outcome. Lewis is once again keeping Molecular company as pianist Aruán Ortiz who plays brilliantly here especially when flinging himself into a blizzard of semi and demisemiquavers (eg around the 05:10 mark), the pace of the whole thing firmly moderated by bassist Brad Jones and drummer Chad Taylor. The full album, on the Swiss Intakt label, is out in a couple of weeks' time. Coming in from the wilderness of the hardcore avant-garde environment suits Lewis well again but he is not forgetting his roots in the style because the sound on the track never seems compromised or at all a cop-out. Its gritty grandeur is the winner that takes it all. SG