||Turtle Crossing |
Few players have forged the free jazz genre with the unmitigated intensity and purity of Paul Flaherty, the organizer of The Jumala Quintet. Among diehard aficionados, Flaherty’s albums are the stuff of legend: They are difficult to find, uncompromising in concept, cathartic in intensity, and impressive in the level of performance.
For this extraordinary session, the saxophonist invited two experienced players to join him on the “front line.” The versatile Joe McPhee, who performs on tenor and soprano saxes and pocket trumpet, adds a breadth of experience and level of musicianship that have catapulted him to the higher echelons of jazz improvisation. Steve Swell, the other horn, has emerged as one of the most exciting trombonists on the New York scene, and if you listen closely you can hear in his solos the whole history of the trombone from Kid Ory to Roswell Rudd and beyond, all delivered with a suave irreverent swagger. Rounding out the group are bassist John Voigt and drummer Laurence Cook, each of whom has recorded before with Flaherty as well as with a host of other players in the now-decades old tradition of Free Jazz.
It seems inconceivable that this is the first time the group ever played together, without even a single rehearsal. But it is true: Not only had these players never performed in concert or recorded together as a group, but there were no discussions in advance as to what was to be played. The quintet simply went into the studio and blew.
It is a tribute to the quality of the players that the results are as special as they are, and undoubtedly this is one of, if not the, best albums put together by Paul Flaherty. (He prefers not be called the “leader” as he insists the music came strictly from a group effort.) Considering that Paul Flaherty has been pursuing his path of purity for many years, and recognizing his reputation as a flame-thrower, it is more than likely that not a few will do a double take after hearing his sensitive, highly integrated performance on this album. Who is this purveyor of simple pleasures, this consummate executant of the phantasmagorical who leads the unwary down undiscovered paths? Who is this explorer, this Christopher Columbus of the twenty-first century, a seeker of the unknown?
Open the doors and be prepared for something new.
*Taken from the original Steven Loewy liner notes.