As Is - Solos from Beirut & Barcelona

[Spring Garden Music, www.springgardenmusic.com]

The Indeterminate Existence

[Last Visible Dog, www.lastvisibledog.com]

Road Signs

[Soul on Rice, www.djll.com]

Free-spirited saxophonist Jack Wright amazes with a phenomenal solo performance "As Is".  Recorded back in April 2006 at the Irtijal Festival in Beirut and in Barcelona, his technique and styling seem to be gaining strength from record to record.  His spluttering on the mouthpiece and the rough-spittle he leaves behind leave him in a category of his own.  Wright is known for a fact he's never compromised one bit.  Every single record he's made can be said to showcase him at his own personal best.  His record label - Spring Garden Music - brings to life much of his material that is often too difficult or too daring for other labels to touch.  Fact that he releases much of his music on CDRs is due to economic factors, which is very understandable.  Like some high-flying birds or pigeons grumbling about their miserable food supply during winter, the first piece shows Wright in all his bare glory.  His soprano is squelching and rough.  In the liner notes he says about the record "It is about the music, not the medium, so it's up to your listening alone, as it was my playing alone in public that created it."  Track two, which features the alto, is a mass of gruff tones and delicate pouncing notes.  Once he gains speed, Wright is out of control.  Nobody will stop his thrill fest now.  When he returns to the soprano on the final track, at times he's making sounds that are more similar to trombone overtones.  No polish, no shine, just pure unadulterated wind glory.
After Jack Wright recorded the music that makes up "The Indeterminate Existence" back in the late 80's, he no longer wanted to be associated with those sounds.  He felt there was too much emotion attached to his playing. Simply put, he never wanted to wake up the ghosts of his past.  Lucky for us, he finally relented and allowed Last Visible Dog to release these tapes.  Over the span of just over 70 minutes, he careens through seven extended pieces of solo sax mayhem.  It's not necessarily a free-for-all blowing session.  The saxophone attacks are as delicious as ever.  Without wasting a minute of anyone's time, he knows exactly what he wants to express through his music.  Not one second of this recording sounds as if Wright is scrounging for ideas or doodling while mustering up new thoughts.  He's coherent and brazen at once.  Wild and uncontrollably brave improvisations on every front; this is a record that should've seen the light of day ages ago.
"Road Signs" is a date from 2002 and 2005, which centers around Jack Wright and trumpeter Tom Djll.  Adding soprano saxophonist Bhob Rainey on two tracks and percussionist Tim Feeney on one, the session is a mish-mash of musical ideas.  Wright is still his usual crazed self, splitting time between rambunctious flurries and softly articulated phrasings.  Djll contributes a good deal of guffaw trumpet lines that are split between the wired lines and blistery farts.  At times calm, while at others quite dramatic and always adventurous, their trio pieces are one crazed mass of high-pitched tones, quarter tones and all around improvised beauty.  When Tim Feeney is added to the 24 minute piece "Road", things change dramatically.  Not that he plays percussion all along.  In fact, he's more focused on the amplifying of the sound of the group as a whole.  When he finally sits behind a drum set, it's lighter fare than you may expect. Sure, bits and pieces of spluttering percussion are heard, but these are far and few in between.  In fact, Feeney's focus is on the bowed cymbals and it's these that provide an interesting trajectory point for Wright and Djll to play against.  When the two front men meet, it's a meeting of pure, unbridled power.  Glistening sounds that attack the ear-drums from all fronts melt into one big whole.  This sort of even-handed improvised language comes along once in a long while.  I'd like to think this is a limited edition release that Tom Djll's label will not reprint in the future.  Buy it now before it's gone for good.

- Tom Sekowski

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