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Album Review

Guy, Barry / London Jazz Composers Orchestra – “Study II, Stringer ” – [Intakt]

Thurston Hunger   10/5/2006   CD, Jazz

Viva big bands!! Especially sprawling freeform improv-friendly
affairs! Bassist Barry Guy built the lauching pad/score for
these two pieces. The first “Study II” recorded in 1991, pools
up breath on sustained wind and strings for nearly 6.5 minutes
until Guy starts sawing on his bass, Irene Schweitzer’s piano
starts chain smoking and three trumpets percolate…but then
more subdued long breath forms for another two minutes before
hyperventilation resumes. More breath after that, it’s now more
strong and focused, charging into a Conrad Bauer blown trombone
solo that gets these nice seven-notes of horns rising through it
leads to a minor miasma before a calming prana coda. “Stringer”
from 1980 (and on FMP vinyl in 1983), has moments of intense
avalanche, along with a minor parallel universe Curtis Mayfield
vibe (mostly in the sizzle of the cymbals and drums oft with a
tumbling-down-an-alley sound & intense anticipation throughout).
Part I, besides launching with violin…has sections that almost
sound like live processing is mixed in’ Part II builds upon a
circular stairway while muted horns wait in the wings and this
tight trumpet (Kenny Wheeler) solos above the railing. The
staircase revolves faster for a while before vanishing, leaves
Wheeler floating in air. Part III…Brotzmann manic energy turns
a stampede of steer loose. The reins get handed off to a tuba
wandering in the wake, and Tony Coe’s clarinet squeaks in for a
quick flight before more fury out. Part IV Tony Oxley (!!) and
John Stevens (RIP) drum up the start of a car factory, really
these two drummers are the key to all four parts. Just perfect
throughout… To me, this is like living through Jurassic Park
…behemoth steps with surprising grace, here’s hoping such big
bang bands are never extinct!

-Thurston Hunger

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