The Empty Cage Quartet: Hello the Damage! (PFMCD040)


Jason Mears: alto saxophone, clarinet, wood flutes
Kris Tiner: trumpet, flugelhorn
Paul Kikuchi: drums, percussion
Ivan Johnson: contrabass

Disc 1: First Set (24:20 / 21:17)
1. Attack of the Eye People (Mears)
Who Are They If We Are Them? (Mears)
The Mactavish Rag (Tiner)
2. And Who Is Not Small (Tiner)
Function-3 (Tiner)

Disc 2: Second Set (42:57)
1. Swan-Neck Deformity (Kikuchi)
The Empty Cage (Mears)
Swim Swim Swim, Eat Eat Eat (Mears)

Recorded live at Café Metropol in Los Angeles, California on Friday, December 30, 2005
Recorded live to two track by Paul Kikuchi
Mastered by David Christensen and Paul Kikuchi
Cover photo and album design: Kio Griffith
Band photos: Allen D. Glass II
Thank you to Kio Griffith, Misato Nagare, Dottie Grossman, David Christensen, Rocco Somazzi, Allen D. Glass II, Jeff Kaiser and Vinny Golia
© 2006 Jason Mears Music, ASCAP and Kris Tiner Music, ASCAP
For more information:

When the camera pulls back
on people you care about
because you have followed
their story all season
and you know
what makes them happy
and what hurts them
and you love them
and want to protect them,
that’s your cue to sit back,
let the music take care of them now.

When I wrote that, I wasn’t thinking about The Empty Cage Quartet, but I see a connection. They share a common view, something about expansiveness or maybe a sense of what I can only call “mission.” These guys actually care about us, and want to make us better through their musical example, God help them. It’s a tall order, admittedly, but saxophonist Jason Mears and trumpeter Kris Tiner talk seriously about the band as a positive model for social change, incorporating and expanding upon what they learned under the tutelage of people like Wadada Leo Smith and Vinny Golia.

Mears, Tiner, Kikuchi and Johnson (“The MTKJ;” now “The Empty Cage Quartet”) came together at The California Institute of the Arts, in Southern California, circa 2002. They began playing music that was admittedly “horrible” (Kris Tiner’s word), at first, but which has evolved to a very telepathic kind of communication that transcends historical models of creative new music and almost doesn’t require language in its usual sense. They’re bent on transcending the clichés of “free jazz,” with its historically associated bias toward self-expression at the expense of everything else. They all contribute tunes and are dedicated to finding ways of getting around traditional improvisation and composition, to create music that is “continuous” and spontaneous. At the same time, in their musical explorations, they incorporate and honor the earlier forms they want to transcend. There is, for example, homage to without imitation of the Anthony Braxton and Ornette Coleman quartets.

So they use a system which in effect means that, in performance, any player can cue a composition at any time. For that to work on a level that approaches art requires the ability to almost literally read each other’s minds. Forget about not paying attention. Forget about playing on chord changes. It’s very akin to linking arms and jumping off the proverbial edge-of-the-cliff. It takes enormous mutual trust, acquired through the time-honored method of playing and touring. It is a truism that there’s no substitute for playing together a lot over a period of time in different settings and circumstances. The bonding that emerges from this kind of intensity has created, for these four, a unity that is probably more rock-solid than that of most “real” families.

And that makes them happy. They like it when audiences are touched and even inspired by the music they make together. Drummer Kikuchi tells about a gig in Olympia, WA, when the audience behaved as if they were at a rock show, yelling and “getting into” the show, letting the music take them to new places.

A word about the title of this CD: “Hello the Damage” was the all-too-literal English translation of part of a French review damning the group’s last CD. Anyone familiar with the often hilarious nonsense masquerading as “translation” on the Babelfish web site will sympathize.

This is a band whose musical growth rate has been amazing. They’re dedicated to doing something new, and the strength of their musicianship and vision are collectively and individually impressive enough to make that happen.

I’m going to leave the last word (well, almost) here to Kris Tiner, who, talking about how much he appreciates the work of Thelonious Monk, Charles Ives and Morton Feldman, says, “You can tell they love music.” Amen.

Dottie Grossman
Los Angeles, CA
April, 2006

[Ed. from a reviewer friend: This expression (in french “bonjour les dégâts…”, “damage” is a plural in french, it makes it more spectacular) became famous after is was used in an advertisement against alcohol when driving : “Un verre ça va, trois verres bonjour les dégâts” “One drink is alright, three drinks, hello the damage” : nobody speaks about 2 drinks, the case becomes a hole where reason gets drowned).]



SKU: PFMCD040 Category:

1 review for The Empty Cage Quartet: Hello the Damage! (PFMCD040)

  1. 0 out of 5

    Going from an acronym to a personalized license plate, the Empty Cage Quartet releases their latest juxtaposition of the path and pathlessness with Hello the Damage! featuring live performances from Café Metropol. Each of the two CDs features a set from that evening in Los Angeles documenting the madness of their method (weaving freedom loving solos around spontaneously chosen themes). This fresh evidence of their growing empathy and prowess also documents their palpable delight in sonic expansion. Beginning with Jason Mears’ angular “Attack of the Eye People,” Paul Kikuchi and Ivan Johnson (drums and bass respectively) pursue a shared pulse as Mears’ alto scorches and soars. Kris Tiner drops flares, staying understated until ripping vivid lines lead into a dissolve that births “Who Are They If We Are Them.” Trumpet and clarinet play inquisitive lines, soon joined in the lurching mode by the rhythm section. Mears snakily threads melody, then tears into the reed, taking the clarinet into the otherworld. Tiner spaciously duos with Kikuchi, the quartet returning to full voice for “The Mactavish Rag,” with Tiner muted for the somewhat sideways rag. The second set/CD opens with Kikuchi’s “Swan-Neck Deformity,” the sly theme giving way to Johnson’s playful tag with Kikuchi’s sedate rhythm. Sedate until Tiner stirs up the rhythm section with a gritty push. The bass continues to finger pop around Mears’ building alto momentum. From its graphics by artist Kio Griffith, to its liners by poet Dottie Grossman, Hello the Damage! adds to the Empty Cage’s small, but sizzling discography, further underlining their place as crucial new millennial jazz essentials.
    – Rex Butters, All About Jazz Los Angeles

    Formerly known as the MTKJ Quartet, the Empty Cage Quartet consists of Jason Mears (alto saxophone, clarinet, wood flutes), Kris Tiner (trumpet, flugelhorn), Paul Kikuchi (drums, percussion) and Ivan Johnson (bass). The title of this recording comes from an English translation of a negative French review of one of the MTKJ Quartet’s previous releases. Negative French review or not, with its constant touring, the Empty Cage Quartet has been burning up clubs in the US for years. The music on Hello The Damage! was recorded during a West Coast tour; two sets in Los Angeles on a night in December 2005 comprise the music in this two-disc package. Mears, Tiner, Kikuchi and Johnson are dedicated to the performance of spontaneous composition while, according to Dottie Grossman in the disc’s liner notes, attempting to transcend ‘traditional’ improvisation and composition as well as the ‘cliches of ‘free jazz,” avoiding any tendency toward self-expression at the expense of musicality. The music begins with direction: a seemingly obvious melody, possibly composed, but not so blatantly or rigidly structured that the group can’t improvise. Mears (playing alto) and Tiner (playing trumpet) hack away at structure in the melody while Kikuchi and Johnson improvise in broken time. This soon gives way to an uptempo swing. Kikuchi and Tiner duet, playing off of each other, and as Johnson comes back in to support Kikuchi, the music picks up steam. After a few minutes of Tiner soloing on top of the rhythm section, the tune gradually gives way to timelessness, first with bass and drums playing almost no time at all, and then with the bass soloing. The two horns come back in very slowly, playing a broken melody in tandem and creating a feeling of transcendence and surrealism. Kikuchi accentuates this with press rolls and hi-hat work, laying down a backbeat, while Mears switches to clarinet to solo and bring the music further toward transcendence. The timelessness of the group’s music is pronounced with Mears’s wailing alto saxophone—shrill, piercing high notes—until Kikuchi brings in a completely broken, swinging rhythm. Johnson bows his bass fiercely to create texture while Mears and Tiner exchange improvisational phrases. The rhythm stops, with only Kikuchi playing small percussion and cymbals with mallets, alone creating the musical tapestry with the timbre of his instruments. In slow, classical form, Johnson starts back in over Kikuchi’s rhythms, and Mears and Tiner duet with improvised melodic phrasing. The intensity grows while the tempo keeps at a slow pace, and the horns continue their melodic exploration while Kikuchi lays in hard on the drums to bring the piece to a crescendo. As the music once again gives way to near-timelessness, it is clear that this quartet is a formidable jazz unit with the ability to play powerful swing time and solid rhythms, going after the music from completely outside in a manner approaching the classical avant garde.
    -Jack Gold, All About Jazz

    Featuring Jason Mears on alto sax, clarinet & flutes, Kris Tiner on trumpet & flugel, Ivan Johnson on contrabass and Paul Kikuchi on drums & percussion. This is the third offering by this same quartet, who used to be called The MTKJ and have two fine CDs out on Nine Winds. This CD was recorded live in L.A. in December of 2005 and each disc consists on one set. The first set/disc consists of two long suites, each over 20 minutes. The first suite has the quartet meandering together at first until they hit their stride and start swinging hard. Both Jason on alto and later clarinet, Kris on trumpet and Ivan on bass take long inspired solos. The tempo and intensity pick up in the second suite, which progresses in an organic way, moving in waves, from rambunctious to quieter seconds. The second set consist of one long suite called “Swan-Neck Deformity/The Empty Cage/Swim Swim Swim, Eat Eat Eat”. The lop-sided groove is a memorable one with a long, flowing solo from Kris on trumpet, as well as a fine Ornette-meets-Zorn alto solo from Jason. The rhythm team do a fine job of moving tightly through waves together, speeding up and slowing down as one force. Whereas the first disc has some fine moments, the second disc is pretty amazing throughout.
    – BLG, Downtown Music Gallery (NYC)

    Empty Cage Quartet is Jason Mears (alto saxophone, clarinet, wood flutes), Kris Tiner (trumpet, flugelhorn), Paul Kikuchi (drums, percussion), and Ivan Johnston (contrabass). Though the name might imply a connection with modern classical artist John Cage, his influence on these proceedings is fairly slight as these folks are treading in pure jazz territory. Hello the Damage! is a lengthy double CD featuring this quartet performing live in Los Angeles, California. The tunes are spontaneous and based on improvisational communication. What we find intriguing about this band’s approach is how well they are able to incorporate a great deal of classic jazz into their music. Rather than just ranting away into noisy oblivion, they create cool grooves that allow their listeners to enter their world. Accidental and yet with a sense of purpose…these live tracks are lively, original, and sometimes puzzling. Top picks: ‘Attack of the Eye People,’ ‘And Who Is Not Small,’ ‘Swim Swim Swim, Eat Eat Eat.’ (Rating: 5)

    Yes more from Jeff Kaiser’s label – this a double album of a concert by Jason Mears (sax, clarinet, flute), Kris Tiner (trumpet, flugelhorn), Paul Kikuchi (percussion) and Ivan Johnson (bass). My exposure to jazz is not very extensive, and while I understand ‘they are bent on transcending the clichés of ‘free jazz’’, I cannot comment on the ‘homage without imitation to Anthony Braxton and Ornette Coleman quartets’. What I can say is that the music has a lovely swing, fits together seamlessly with some sqonking sections, but overall is approachable and fulfilling – the 88 minutes roll by without flat spots or harsh constrictions. Each of the three tracks is based around a number of songs, though the transitions are not obvious – The Mactavish Rag being about the most distinct. Bass and percussion form a flexible bed but also have subtle solos, and the two-track live recording is crisp and clear with excellent instrument distinction. Mear’s excursion into wooden flutes provides additional variation. I’m not sure about the pricing of this, but if it is regular price I congratulate pfMentum for allowing the whole concert (rather than trimming some minutes off) (and of course if it double price for that extra 10 minutes then brickbats!)
    – Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etcetera

    Formerly known as the MTKJ Quartet, the Empty Cage is Jason Mears (alto sax, clarinet, wood flute), Kris Tiner (trumpet, flugelhorn), Paul Kikuchi (drums, percussion) and Ivan Johnson (contrabass). The four started playing together in 2002 (“horrible music”, Tiner remembers), and have progressively worked to free themselves from the worst clichés of jazz and free jazz, all the while showing due respect to major players such as Coleman and Braxton. This double CD presents two live sets captured in Los Angeles at the end of 2005. It sounds like a single-microphone recording, as there’s a sense of collective wholeness to the sound rather than a focus on individual instrumental nuances. Tiner is the most prominent soloist, his lines remaining comprehensible enough even for regular jazz fans, but certain frictions between Mears and Johnson are the real attention-catchers on the first disc. The second evolves into a different kind of interaction, with Kikuchi and Johnson laying down riffs over which Mears and Tiner (unconsciously?) evoke the sound of classic British jazz (are you listening, Harry Miller?). As the performance develops, the quartet seems to be searching for some kind of illumination that lies over the hills and far away. Two things detract from an otherwise successful album: the recording quality (I would really like to hear these fine players in a studio setting) and the double CD format. Editing it into a 60-minute single disc would have distilled the music instead of diluting it.
    – Massimo Ricci, Paris Transatlantic

    The two-CD set Hello the Damage! received its cheery title via a Babelfish translation of a French reviewer’s pan of the previous disc. There is something of the same lost-in-translation quality to the album, unfortunately, since the concert recording is far from satisfactory – the poor audio quality is particularly hard on Johnson and Kikuchi. Aside from that major caveat, this is a useful complement to Day of the Race, giving a good sample of the group’s very different approach to live gigs. The quartet uses pre-composed materials sparingly and flexibly, treating them as navigation points within long, open-ended improvisations. Tiner is again extraordinarily inventive: his solo on “Swan-Neck Deformity” is a stunner, suggesting still-untapped potentials in Miles Davis’s legacy – it’s as if Tiner has plumbed the most daring, piercing moments in Davis’s music to propose a boldface musical language utterly different from the usual stylized fragility of Miles disciples. The greater emphasis on long-form improv risks the odd musical dead spot (and shows up Mears’s tendency to filibuster), but also gives the musicians the chance to explore colour and mood at length in a way largely ruled out by the jump-or-die linearity of Day of the Race. Hello the Damage! is not the best place to make the group’s first acquaintance, but anyone who responded to the earlier disc will find it nearly as absorbing. Like Shot x Shot and Exploding Customer, the Empty Cage Quartet points the way ahead in the current music scene for the free jazz quartet.
    -Nate Dorward, Signal to Noise

    Fresh jazz sounds. Three long, eventful medleys of original jazz compositions from this first-rate group, formerly known as MTKJ Quartet. Trumpet and alto sax are the main voices on the front line, with flugelhorn, clarinet, and wood flute also making appearances. Many twists and turns as the group navigates its way through the ever-changing material, including a short but cool ambient percussion thing in CD1-Track 2. My favorite sections are probably the ones in which the bass and drums drop into a spare, Bitches Brew-type funk, while the horns provide melodic interest and inspired soloing on top (such as about halfway through CD1-Track 1 and also at the beginning of CD2).
    –Max Level, KFJC 89.7 FM (Los Altos Hills CA)

    That’s right, two discs of improvisational jazz. Better hope these people actually know each other. Actually, it sounds like they’re sleeping together. All four of them, that is, in one double bed. Each member seems to know every little nook and cranny of the others’s playing. The inventive ways these songs come together are truly astounding.
    -Jon Worley, Aiding & Abetting

    Deux ans après un premier album produit par le label Nine Winds, Empty Cage Quartet présente Hello The Damage!, double CD issu de l’enregistrement d’un concert donné au Café Metropol de Los Angeles, fin décembre 2005. Interprétant des compositions signées de deux de ses membres – le trompettiste Kris Tiner et le saxophoniste et clarinettiste Jason Mears -, le quartette confectionne un jazz soutenu parcouru de dissonances, répétitions, et entrelacs spécieux, adressant ici ou là quelques clins d’œil : à Jimmy Lyons sur Attack of the Eye People, à Art Ensemble sur The Mactavish Rag. Lorsqu’il ne fait pas siffler son alto sur les roulements sophistiqués du batteur Paul Kikuchi (And Who Is Not Small), Mears avance à pas comptés à la clarinette avant d’être rejoint par un Kris Tiner criard, passé, lui, au bugle (The Empty Cage). Après une chute dessinant quelques cercles, le groupe retrouve le calme d’après tempête (Swan-Neck Deformity), et décide d’en faire le prétexte adéquat pour conclure le concert, aussi long que passionnant.
    – Grisli,

    “Following their excellent Nine Winds studio recording Day of the Race, this double disc live set finds the newly christened Empty Cage Quartet (formerly the MTKJ Quartet) exploring a set of pieces that stretch across their brief, but rich discography. One of the West Coast’s best acoustic Jazz quartets, these four engage a set of intricate compositions that merge vigorous improvisation with primal drive and subtle dynamics. Multi-reedist Jason Mears and trumpeter Kris Tiner hold the front line in this youthful, inventive quartet. Bassist Ivan Johnson and drummer Paul Kikuchi provide ample support for the horns, empathetically locking together through a diverse array of rhythms and endlessly modulating tempos. Utilizing a modular compositional model, the Empty Cage Quartet borrows from the aesthetic structural qualities of Anthony Braxton’s post-1970s innovations, as well as the contemporary ensembles of such luminaries as Tim Berne and Ken Vandermark. By allowing each player to reference the core components of any of their other pieces within a given composition, the quartet’s interplay expands exponentially. Modal vamps, atmospheric dirges and grinding, deconstructed Funk rhythms alternate with rhapsodic flights of Be-Bop taken at blistering tempos. The rhythm section is incisive, stretching endless shifts in tempo and dynamics in tandem. Kikuchi’s scintillating percussive asides and pneumatic tom-tom work occasionally sounds almost electronically generated and alien in their timbre. Johnson’s bass is resolute and on target, melodically focused through tight and involved passages. The front line is an expressive and well-matched pair. Tiner’s timbre is brassy and full, capable of tranquility, but prone to pugnacious elation, especially when handling a plunger mute. Mears plies yearning clarinet musings with searing focus and vertical intensity, his serpentine alto sax is equally turbulent and buoyant. Weaving together disparate lines, they play with subtlety and chamber-esque restraint on “Who Are They If We Are Them?” Chasing the driving rhythm, they link like barbed coils on the breakneck pace of “The Empty Cage” before drifting into sultry Blues territory on the swaggering “Swim Swim Swim, Eat Eat Eat.” Each is given ample solo time across the two sets, but just as often they end up soloing in unison, interweaving complimentary counterpoint with one another in and endless exchange of ideas, both melodic and textural. Noticeably progressing with each release, the Empty Cage Quartet embodies some of the West Coast’s finest acoustic improvisation. Transcending their influences, these four rise to the challenge of carving out their own space and sound.”
    – Troy Collins, © Cadence Magazine 2007” Constitué de jeunes représentants du jazz West Coast d’aujourd’hui, Empty Cage Quartet profite d’un concert donné en 2005 pour convaincre d’un potentiel certain. Mis surtout au service des compositions de deux de ses membres – Kris Tiner (tp) et Jason Mears (as, cl, fl) –, celui-ci donne une actualité élégante à un hard bop qui accueille avec bienveillance quelques tentations free. Le tout porté par une section rythmique assurée – Ivan Johnson (b), Paul Kikuchi (dm) – et voici recommandée l’écoute d’Hello the Damage!”
    -Guillaume Belhomme, Jazz Hot (France)

    ” The style of this double CD is within Avantgarde Jazz, although it also has New Music traits represented by the most experimental atmospheres. Some passages are like urban folk music of the future. With this band, one must expect the unexpected. The sonic adventures of these four musicians are surprising.”
    – Vicente Gispert, Amazing Sounds

    ” Simpatico il titolo del cd, suggerito da un errore del famoso traduttore online Babelfish nel gestire la recensione in francese, con relativa stroncatura, del precedente album di questo quartetto, quando ancora era noto con il nome di MTKJ Quartet. Jason Mears, sax e clarinetto, Kris Tiner alla tromba, e la sezione ritmica di Paul Kikuchi e Ivan Johnson, rispettivamente alle percussioni e al contrabbasso. Quattro musicisti in perfetta sintonia empatica, capaci di perdersi e ritrovarsi continuamente nello spazio indagato durante i due sets live catturati al Cafè Metropol di Los Angeles che costituiscono questo doppio cd. Pubblico in sottofondo che a tratti sembra rumoreggiare distratto da altre faccende, come piacevolmente distratti possono sembrare i musicisti sul palco. Post-bop che si muove in maniera ondivaga ed imprevedibile, si prende i suoi tempi, si ferma spesso a riflettere, imbocca qualche direzione e poi ritorna indietro sui suoi passi. Tutto molto sciolto, quasi traballante, ma solo in superficie: in realtà un piano ben organizzato, tra composizione ed impro è in corso d’opera e segue delle logiche precise che scandiscono interventi, motivi, reciproci sostegni e mutue esclusioni. I fiati iniziano a proporre un tema swing, poi lo abbandonano, decidono di affrontare escursioni in solitaria, fino a quando il fiato si fa corto e tutto sembra spegnersi, con l’attività ridotta al lumicino e la sezione ritmica che con giri frastagliati e minimali, ma carichi di piccoli dettagli, continua a pulsare in stand-by e attende l’arrivo di una nuova sferzata di vitalità. Grosso modo è questo il modus-operandi dell’Empty Cage Quartet, non privo di eccezioni e sorprese inaspettate, come ad esempio una marcetta che improvvisamente sbuca dal nulla, ostinati duelli in cui Mears e Tiner si urlano in faccia, lenti scivolamenti in spazi vuoti, sfocate ritmiche pseudo-tribali (verso la fine del primo cd). Dei due set comunque preferisco il secondo nello scorrere ininterrotto dei suoi 45 minuti, e che già dall’inizio di Swan-Neck Deformity promette bene: una linea melodica felpata con i due fiatisti allineati, seguita da un lungo giro di ronda del basso, per poi vedere il rientro di Mears e Tiner, con quest’ultimo che lentamente prende il sopravvento e si spende in momenti prima liricamente Davisiani poi più scostanti e sostenuti da una ritmica quasi frenetica. Un quartetto pieno d’inventiva, a tratti sornione, i sensi quasi rallentati dal sonno ma pronti a farsi vigilissimi in un battibaleno, che nulla ha a che fare con l’assalto frontale ed ostico del free jazz, genere a cui comunque il disco non appartiene, ma che del free jazz possiede la voglia di rompere gli schemi.”
    -Alfio Castorina, Kathodic (Italy)

    ” Twee sets van het concert dat het Empty Cage Quartet (voorheen The MTKJ) in thuisstad Los Angeles gaf op 30 december 2005, staan netjes over twee cd’s verdeeld. Het Café Metropol was de plaats waar de vier heren, met als spil saxofonist Jason Mears en trompettist Kris Tiner, hun composities op een wild publiek afvuurden. De twee spilfiguren schreven de meeste nummers, al is dat schrijven relatief. Het zijn eerder geraamtes waarrond de nummers worden opgehangen, want de band laat zeer veel ruimte voor vrije improvisatie. Een dergelijke manier van spelen vraagt uiterste concentratie van de vier muzikanten, en net die concentratie zorgt ervoor dat het Empty Cage Quartet de hele tijdsduur uiterst bevlogen musiceert. Gefreak is hier nergens te bespeuren, evenmin als stukken die de aandacht trekken op één van de vier om zijn muzikale virtuositeit middels ellenlange solo’s te etaleren. Soleren doen de heren genoeg, maar alleen ten dienste van de gespeelde suite, als deel van een wonderlijk klinkend geheel. Het kwartet brengt behoorlijk rustige zwijmeljazz die het moet hebben van subtiliteit, vakmanschap en minutieuze interactie tussen vier begaafde muzikanten, die duidelijk wordt gesmaakt door een stijlvol klappend publiek. Zonder ook maar ergens in kopieergedrag te vervallen, roept deze dubbel-cd de geest van Anthony Braxton en Ornette Coleman op. Het moet een memorabele decemberavond zijn geweest, daar in Los Angeles twee jaar geleden.”
    -Patrick Bruneel, Gonzo Circus (Belgium)

    ” Una piacevole sorpresa: è la prima impressione che desta il quartetto guidato dal sassofonista Jason Mears e dal trombettista Kris Tiner. Il lavoro d’insieme – questa è la loro seconda incisione – sembra dare i suoi frutti e la musica ne beneficia in termini di precisione esecutiva, oltre che per la riuscita integrazione di stilemi improvvisativi che appartengono di solito alle esibizioni in solo. I quattro sono autori di un jazz d’avanguardia spumeggiante, vitale, che prende a destra e a manca dal repertorio dei colleghi e lo ricompone in una specie di puzzle che lascia solo intravedere, fra i pezzi rimessi insieme, i quadri di partenza. Quali che siano le fonti, si assiste ad una loro assimilazione ed elaborata restituzione che esprime in fondo la passione e la creatività di questi giovani musicisti. La ritmica è ben integrata, quanto serve per dare il giusto sostegno ai fiati e per creare fantasiosi contrasti dinamici. I due leader sono strumentisti di alto livello: con una voce dal lirismo inconsueto Tiner (”Not Finding Anything” ne è un bell’esempio), che ben contrasta con il sassofono contralto spesso dai suoni screziati, aspri, di Jason Mears. Ma ambedue si prendono la libertà di variare, così che il trombettista usa qua e là le sordine, con un suono sporco, usandole come ci aveva insegnato – al trombone – Roswell Rudd durante il periodo passato con Archie Shepp negli anni `60 e Mears passa al clarinetto – “Colianation” – prima con accenti lirici e poi tirandone fuori degli armonici pigolanti finendo il brano sui toni bassi dello strumento: da John Carter a Jimmy Giuffre passando per Evan Parker! Una musica, la loro, ricca di cambi e di velocità, di potenza timbrica e ritmica, in cui ciascuno ha un suo ruolo preciso contribuendo alla plasticità del tutto. Tuttavia la libertà dei singoli – presupposto di quella che è la creatività free – rimane ed il brano finale, con Tiner che prende un solo “arrabbiato” mentre Mears lascia da parte il sax alto e sta lì, con un flautino etnico in sottofondo, ne è un esempio. A quando la possibilitá di ascoltarli dal vivo in Europa?”
    -Vittorio Lo Conte, All About Jazz Italy

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