Recorded June 23, 2007 live at Vision Festival XII, (NYC). Recorded by Steve Schmidt, Fly on the Wall Productions. Cover paintintg by Jerzy Skarzynski (“Gold Diggers” 38×22 inches, 1964). Photograph by Scott Friedlander. Liner notes by Marc Medwin. All compositions by Michael Bisio, AMB Music ASCAP
Tracklist: 1. History of a Mystery: H. Floresiensis [22:34] 2. Nitro, Don’t Leave Home Without It [23:48]
Regardless of circumstances
some groups just nail it! It doesn’t matter how many people are there or what time of day it is. Forces gell just right, a chain reaction takes place and the music simply slams. That’s how it was on the Saturday of Vision Festival 2007, when the Michael Bisio quartet stormed the stage for nearly an hour of stunning sound.
Listening to these two suites nearly a year after the fact brought it all back. New York in June, just having cabbed it from my little room on 17th to the Angel Orensanz Foundation, quite expectant, as I’ve been a Bisio fan since hearing his masterful collaborations with Joe Giardullo. This quartet was bound to burn, their first CIMP record, Connections, a sure-fire indicator of things to come. Spectators were relatively fewwhat do you expect for a Saturday afternoon? Yet, Avram Fefer, Stephen Gauci, Bisio and Jay Rosen played as if every note was make or break.
It’s not about volume, a lesson so many free-jazz blowers could stand to learn several times over. Dig the beginning of ..History of a Mystery”, growing slowly, inexorably, out of Bisio’s melodic motor. Fefer joins in a fifth above, giving concrete expression to Monk’s aphorism ,,Two is one”, and things take off with the crystalline hisses and bang of Rosen’s high-hat. All’s subdued but absolutely rife with sublimated energy; Both reedmen are really feeling it, beginning to trill overtop as silky-smooth tones take on new-thing growls. Heat does eventually bring volume, Fefer and Gauci mixing tones and register to sound bigger than any two-wind team I’ve ever heard as they whirl and dart about each other in increasingly frenetic polyrhythms. Yet, nothing prepares for Rosen’s sudden torn and snare thwacks, each bringing the proceedings to a new level of excitement.
We couldn’t really contain our applause, such was the energetic ebb and flow of each section of the first suite, that Bisio had to warn us that another multi-movement work was in the offing; this time, it was ,,Nitro (Don’t leave home without it)” from the group’s most recent CIMP album. Here again, little motivic cells form the material out of which the whole piece emerges and to which it ultimately returns, time and meter being wonderfully skewed as Rosen and Bisio stretch out under the sharp but air-tight exhortations of Fefer and Gauci. Rosen takes a thundering solo, but not before Bisio has had his say. His pizzicato is full, intonation so perfect that each third breeds ghost tones, filling out the intervals in the same way a well-tuned piano might.
I remember reeling from the intensity, but also from the knowledge of tradition with which every note was informed. Fefer and Gaud’s solos and intertwining dialogue are inflected with everything from bebop to post-Ayler new thing scree, but at no time does any one trope take pride of place. The winds work in tandem, as do Bisio and Rosen, all four players able to switch up reference with speed and dexterity, so quickly in factthat only repeated listening brings each allusion to the fore. Check out Rosen on ,,Nitro” as he weaves in and out of Latin-tinged groove, tempo and meter becoming his playthings as they do in«ttie hands of only the finest musicians. Bisio demonstrates similar breadth of musical vision in his Arco wont* on ..History”. He might as well be playing contemporary classical music, his compositions sporting post-modern juxtapositions prevalent in the finest in recent post-modern exercises. To be sure, we all had journeyed, and it can be heard in our reaction when the second suite wound down.fl was a power-packed fifty minutes indeed, and it translates well to the disc now in your possession. Enjoy! — Marc Medwin
For years, free improvisers
have explored the tactile aspect of performance, in which the nature of the encounter between the player and the instrument becomes the subject of the music itself. Bisio is one of the few musicians that has managed to meld this high-concept sense of physicality with the soulful charge of jazz. His fiddle-high, scraped overtones create a tangled choir that is impossible to resist; his expressiveness with the bow is unmatched. Having whirled the listener into a transportive state, he gently shows the way out… Paul DeBarros, Signal to Noise
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