Home Cooking In The UK
Available as MP3 download (£6.00) and Audio CD (£12.00
Sunny Murray : Drums
John Edwards : Double Bass
Tony Bevan : Tenor & Bass Saxophones
Audio CD (May 1 2004)
Number of Discs: 1
Disc ID: FOGCD004
Deeply felt music transcends arbitrary definitions attached to terminology, generation, or nationalism. You can hear that clearly on Home Cooking in the UK (Foghorn), a standout live session by three exceptional improvisers.
What could cause disquiet is that two of the players—bassist John Edwards and saxophonist Tony Bevan—are baby boomers and committed British Free Music players. Part of that sometimes-insular scene, they often work with guitarist Derek Bailey, major domo of that genre, who insists on Free Music’s distance from Jazz. Yet the third participant in this series of first-time meetings, recorded on tour in Britain, is 67-year-old drummer Sunny Murray. Not only is Murray, who lives in Paris, a jazzman without compromise, but he was one of the men who helped birth the so-called New Thing. He held the drum chair with both Cecil Taylor’s and Albert Ayler’s trios in the mid-1960s and afterwards led or participated in a clutch of sessions that defined so-called Energy Music.
Be that as it may, everything musical meshes on the three long tracks found here. For someone who participated in creating the style also stuck with the label Fire Music, Murray is still a remarkably subtle percussionist, sensitive to every shade and nuance in the others’ playing. Bevan and Edwards’ output, while non-idiomatic, has the toughness that moves it about as far away from the precious, so-called insect music of doctrinaire BritImprovisers as Murray’s is from bebop.
That said, the centerpiece of the CD is the nearly 29-minute title tune, which at times takes on Freebop configurations. But it’s just one of the references that show up as the bubbling foghorn-like bluster of Bevan’s buzzing bass saxophone finds common ground with Edwards’ sul tasto arco patterns and Murray’s barely-there cymbal and drum-top rattles.
Shunned by most musicians except for Adrian Rollini (1904-1956), the unwieldy bass sax gives Bevan an unprecedented range—and he makes the most of it. Double-tonguing and smearing, he blasts stentorian honks from his horn’s bottom range, produces snappy doits and slides from its mid-register, and ejaculates irregularly vibrated split tones from its screaming top range. Dexterous as well as glottal, at several points he moves into Sonny Rollins’ tenor saxophone-like mode for split seconds, often sounding as if he’s playing parts of half-forgotten jazz standards without revealing the shape of the melody. Other times he introduces buzz-saw obbligatos in false registers that lacerate any stray notes and chords that fall in their way.
Unable to match Bevan’s aural authority, the bassist and drummer take a different tack, projecting strength from understatement. Murray wipes the toms and spanks the snares with pixie-light jumps more often than he crashes and rolls. Edwards strums with a 12-string guitar-like intensity, and at one point introduces languid ponticello lines that shuffle accelerated and decelerated timbres from the strings. He even plays some modern jazz-inflected walking bass. Other times, his rattling, buzzing lower strings can mirror in almost verbal unison the reverberating snorts of Bevan’s reed beast.
Although the reedist’s serpentine circular-breathed melodies and altissimo triple-tonguing confirm his versatility throughout, he lets loose with protracted sepulchral blasts just before the finale to ultimately remind you that he’s playing the low-pitched sibling of the saxophone family. Earlier, Murray supplies an object lesson in Free Jazz drumming, applying just enough torque to vary the rhythm from flams, drags, and forced ratamacues, clattering the cymbals. Then the saxman responds by spraying stuttering split tones at him.
“Split Decision”, the final track, with Bevan on tenor saxophone, is more fervent than the others, with the reedman’s snaking tone and false fingering moving over time from double-tongued moderato to dog whistle screeches and grainy, speedy overblowing. As the saxman speeds up his output so do the other two—and Edwards promptly strokes an assembly line of bass tones from his axe. As he boots the bull fiddle’s output still further, Bevan sounds nearly frenzied and almost ragged, spitting into the reed and mouthpiece without waiting for each sound to exit the bell. Finally the bassist modulates down to near silence, as Murray repeatedly crashes his cymbal—then produces a conclusive press roll.
A fine trio effort, this CD should impress most listeners, no matter the side of the Free Jazz-Free Music line on which they may stand. Ken Waxman, Jazz Word (Canada)
One of my Favourite CDs of the year Roger Thomas, Jazz Review (UK)
Home Cooking pulls together three tracks from an April 2003 tour in the UK. “Split Lip” opens with a four-minute drum solo from Murray before tenor and bass enter, bouncing notes around like a rubber ball. Bevan’s jittery, running-in-place riffing breaks into Aylerian serenade eight minutes in, and then there’s a quick wrap-up and we’re done. “Home Cooking” is the main track, a 28-minute improv with Bevan switching to bass sax. After a marvellous sax/bass introduction Murray comes in on brushes, at which point Bevan starts punching out little riffs and things get swinging. There’s a passage that sounds like Bevan’s throttling his horn, and he and Edwards get in a nice feedback loop, throwing increasingly agitated phrases at each other. Things nearly reach a halt at 23’30″ but at the last minute the musicians decide to tack on a coda, with Bevan spinning out melismas over droning bass. Bevan returns to tenor for “Split Decision” (with an r’n'b tinge this time – shades of David Murray as well as Ayler) and Murray is back on sticks, bashing away righteously in 6/8 before the guys all pile on for a nice, thudding climax. Check it out. ND ,Paris Transatlantic (France)
All pieces recorded live on tour in Britain in April 2003
Produced by: Tony Bevan. Mastered by: Jamie Masters at Audiolab West, Buckingham, England. All Compositions by Murray (Murrayism Music, AFL/Sacem/Bmi), Bevan (PRS) and Edwards (PRS)
C & P Foghorn Records (uk) 2004
Photography by: Ruth Elizabeth Pope
Concept and Design by Paul Dunn @ diablo