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    This album is the result of the powerful trio consisting of Steve Baczkowski on saxophones, Brandon Lopez on bass, and Chris Corsano on drums performing live in Buffalo, New York during 2018. Over the course of several tight collective conversations they move confidently as the music dynamically shifts between torrid free jazz improvisations and sections that are constrained and reserved in feeling and technique. The opening performance is “Iron Ore” and they use this fuel to stoke their fire right off, developing a tense three way conversation with harsh and grating saxophone that is capable of getting a really withering and deep sound meeting thick edgy bass and booming drums playing in a dramatic fashion. They spool the improvisation outward without a hitch, keeping the excitement level high, before slowing as the trio moves into the following track, “Blast Furnace.” Building quieter and more ominous long tones from bowed bass and saxophone, the group creates drones that evolve hypnotically as the drums join edging the volume ever higher, devolving to solo bowed bass finale. “Bend in the Shore” has a spare and abstract beginning, with the instruments interacting quietly, before dropping into a fast paced trance inducing collective improvisation with rattling drums, elastic bass and saxophone that plays in rips and tears. There's an exotic reed tone to “Open Hearth” that is bracing, and gives the music a new sound, urged on by fast and compelling bass and drums, and lending a mesmerizing Middle Eastern shamanistic quality to the whole performance. Smears of disorienting sound are present in “Slag Heap” where bowed bass, flurries of percussion and massive gales of saxophone soon hit their stride in a powerful improvised section, one that has the group developing a multi layered sound environment that is very impressive. “Steel Wind” opens with a propulsive drum solo, evolving into a section of raw saxophone and drums in constant motion, playing at high volume and speed, creating a collective identity of sheer unadulterated power and providing free jazz overdrive at its most compelling. After a strong and physical bass solo, percussion joins in light but manic, along with weeping Ayler like saxophone, continuing into “Smoke Creek” which sounds like a Spiritual Unity outtake, with raw saxophone joined by rolling bass and drums driving hard and fast on this short coda like finale. The crucible of this music melts down the three members individual approaches to sound into a unified group path that is an unstoppable force. They harnessed this force to create one of the most compelling free jazz albums of the year so far. Tim Niland ... more
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1.
Iron Ore 06:40
2.
3.
4.
Open Hearth 08:07
5.
Slag Heap 09:04
6.
Steel Wind 13:16
7.
Smoke Creek 03:43

about

On "Iron Ore" the trio starts abruptly, the loose rhythmic pattern stirred up by Lopez and Corsano entwining with the coarse vibrato-laden baying of Baczkowski's baritone. As the piece develops the saxophone playing becomes more and more expressive, reaching a churning climax in the last minute or so. The next piece "Blast Furnace" begins with long, deep tones of circular breathing from Baczkowski while Lopez bows out multiphonic strands of sound over Corsano's crisp cymbal shimmer. It all coalesces around the midpoint, the sound growing more and more intense until it explodes into a gruff interplay of timbre and dynamics. "Bend in the Shore" is initiated via a bowed cymbal/sax drone augmented with Lopez's subtle thrum. This gives the track some direction before the trio open up in the latter half and lay down some fantastic interplay. On "Open Hearth" Baczkowski makes the switch to soprano saxophone, his reedy dissonance resembling a snake charmer's pungi and he really gets after it with some mighty air blasts. Corsano and Lopez play with a similarly high energy, and once the trio gets going it's a real earth scorcher. Similarly, "Slag Heap" starts quietly with rapid percussive reed popping and the thick gravity of Lopez's playing before igniting into a firestorm of rhythmic juxtaposition and high octane saxophone squelch. Corsano initiates "Steel Wind" with rapturous thunderclaps of percussion, culminating in a riotous melee before the trio launches into an eruption of aggressive exchanges. Lopez gives an extended solo, tempering the upsurge only momentarily before the triad detonates again. The last piece "Smoke Creek" caps of a very intense listening experience with another rousing fracas, this time a relatively short burst of energy just for good measure to remove any remaining oxygen from the room. Nick Metzger

credits

released April 1, 2019

Contrabass – Brandon Lopez
Drums – Chris Corsano
Saxophone – Steve Baczkowski

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Relative Pitch Records New York, New York

NYC-based independent record label specializing in avant-garde, free jazz, free improvisation, experimental.

instagram.com/relativepitchrecords

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