What began as somewhat of a guilty pleasure has grown to full-fledged respect and admiration. I first heard percussionist Eddie Prevost in what might be dubbed a more “traditional” context about 10 years ago, and while the distinction is flawed, there should be no disagreement when I state that what he lays down in the context of AMM is quite different than what we have here. In partnership with bassist John Edwards and saxophonist Tom Chant, Prevost is on a conventional kit, and while his work in that medium has always been controversial, I now hear in it the same mastery of timbre, orchestration and timing that informs so much of AMM’s music. These two extended live recordings from 2012 demonstrate affinity, virtuosity and inventive whimsy by turn.
A telling moment occurs at the second piece’s opening. Edwards and Chant hang a semi-static tone or two in the air, something bordering around a triton which then expands outward as Chant engages in huge register switches. Edwards’ lines become busier, the dialogue intensifying until, without warning, Edwards calls a halt; everything peters out in a series of grunts and snorts that made me laugh out loud, surely illegal when listening to improvised music. They pick up the pieces, but amidst Chant’s rasps and gurgles, a thud, a pitched rumble, a couple of pithy snaps, demonstrate that Prevost has been waiting for just the right moment to enhance the counterpoint. The whole exchange brought to mind Duke Ellington’s piano playing of the middle 1930s, when he had all but abandoned his stride roots in favor of impeccably timed single notes and brief phrases that seasoned the textures his band was creating.
The title proves more than appropriate. There are times then I found myself mistaking Chant’s soprano saxophone for a flute. Long metric passages emerge and disappear, various registers and timbres are explored, and various rhythmic feels are worked through before the trio moves on to the next. They can swing with the best, their points of cadence are beautiful, and they will dive into some of the densest “free jazz” this side of Albert Ayler’s middle 1960s offerings. Prevost and Edwards’ brush-and-Arco interplay is particularly enlightening, creating the illusion of several additional percussionists. Beautiful passages of melody and drone might just as suddenly become pointillist, and as is so often not the case with music of this kind, the trio is listening, constantly and deeply listening, and reacting with the same commitment. Perhaps most satisfying of all, force and serenity change places at a moment’s notice, transforming a series of superficially disconnected moments into a journey.
Marc Medwin — Dusted Magazine 7th January 2015
Dusted Magazine January 7, 2015