The first few minutes of Free Jazz is often similar to early morning kitten time. Eyes slowly open, a languid stretch, look around, see a friend doing the same, knee-jerk next steps (baby animals are not very pensive), bump into one another, opt for a tussle — find creative ways to continue that for a while — slow down, figure out a next move. This scene is adorable, but how long before you're bored and hungry for something else?
That's the spot where this genre gets stagnant or (hopefully) finds a galactic path.
The Duo of wunderkinds Mette Rasmussen (alto sax) and Chris Corsano (percussion, drum kit, slide clarinets aka breathy noise makers) adopts the aforementioned boisterous introduction for this 2015 live set. Corsano plays the alpha instigator who keeps the ball rolling whenever Rasmussen pulls back the tempo. This moderate seesaw persists through the first nine minutes ("Many People Were Scandalized — Some Still Are"), and while the cross roads of A View of the Moon (From the Sun) doesn't open a worm hole, Rasmussen and Corsano maintain an interesting language made up of the former's soulful melodicism and the latter's superhuman flams, rolls, woodblock smacks, and fog of cymbal shimmers. There are solos and solos on top of solos, and when you think you've hit a peak, the two slam the nitrous tank (as in Mad Max's car, not Dennis Hopper's Frank in Blue Velvet) and blaze into spin kicks and fishtails.
The moments for those looking for the extended techniques Rasmussen and Corsano utilize in their unaccompanied work are brief but enough to buck the type of overwhelming monotony that comes from aural overstimulation. After the final tornado on "Let's Have a Raincheck on the Franchise," Corsano provides wispy, sustained (string?) notes under Rasmussen's mournful lines that realize almost shakuhachi in color; the track wriggles in this tranquility until Corsano, still relatively hushed, applies pressure to release gnarled harmonics. "You're Breaking Up, The House Is Going Through a Tunnel" (haha), replicates a sticky morning of spooky lupine moans and dove calls. On the penultimate track ("A Detail"), the duo focuses on vibrating objects (Rasmussen is known to balance a plate over her bell), organic tremolo, and a pulsing drone of strings slightly detuned from one another.
Otherwise, if you're just looking for a fiery jam session, A View of the Moon (From the Sun) will suit you fine. Meow.
Comments and Feedback: