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Point of Departure

This is the fourth in the series of Eddie Prévost’s concert recordings of trios with different bassists and saxophonists. The title, strongly invoking the mystic G.I Gurdjieff’s Meetings with Remarkable Men, might echo that work’s particular journey toward initiation and occult knowledge. The previous saxophonists in the series were Evan Parker, John Butcher and Jason Yarde. Bertrand Denzler shares with the others a mastery of what are sometimes referred to as extended techniques; he can also pursue a musical vision that is profoundly internalized, whether focused on micro events or the development of hypnotic states.
Though there are moments of reverie here, of airy unaccompanied upper register multiphonics, a listener might be forgiven missing the presence of the percussionist from AMM or one of the saxophonists from Hubbub. The performance is a journey into free jazz, and its fundamental material is rhythmic. Each of the two half-hour pieces – “All-in-All (en tout et pour tout),” parts 1 and 2 – goes through numerous mutations, but they’re driven along by Prévost’s fiercely propulsive drumming, whether he’s supplying aggressive brushwork or playing with sticks. This brings out a particularly forceful side of Denzler, who here sounds like a none-too-distant cousin of Sonny Rollins, sometimes building tension with shifting two-note figures, elsewhere insistently pressing an ascending major scale or reducing the tenor to a drum for some one-note semaphore.
Given the focus on rhythm, bassist John Edwards – who is usually likely to be the most aggressive musician of the three present – often emerges as the most melodically inventive member of the group, whether finding unlikely figures to contribute to a dialogue or bowing high-pitched whistles against Denzler’s elemental honks. If risk and surprise are the lifeblood of improvised music, this album succeeds admirably. It’s just as successful as a free jazz power trio disc.

–Stuart Broomer