Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dennis Rea, Wally Shoup, Tom Zgonc, Subduction Zone

Dennis Rea, readers may recall, is the Seattle-based guitar innovator, composer and bandleader with a number of excellent recent albums under his belt as leader of Moraine, Iron Kim Style, and under his own name (do a search on the top of this page for my review articles).

He teams with altoist Wally Shoup and drummer Tom Zgonc for a collectively free-avant improvisation date, Subduction Zone (self-released).

This is pull-out-the-stops out freedom of an advanced sort. There are seven collective improvisations on the disk, all fully charged with high-voltage expression.

Shoup gives forth with the emotive wails, fanfares and hard-scrabbled sax work appropriate to the genre. Zgonc applies an all-over rock-heavy leverage to the sound, in multi-layered torrents of freetime. Dennis excels in a highly electric, heavily sound-colored series of onslaughts that alternatively soar, break up into fragments of noise patterns, and provide a melodic and textural outness that helps give the trio a specific, distinctive sound ambiance.

This is avant improv of the swashbuckling sort. They move together in cohesive directions. They go for the big sound. And they do it all with a sense of drama that gets your attention and keeps it riveted throughout. If you love adventure and electricity, Subduction Zone will be a place you'll want to visit frequently.


  1. It's an amazing album. THE free jazz album of the year for me (I call it free jazz for the lack of other definition)

  2. It's a formidable album, I agree. If I named albums of the year here it would be in the running, certainly. Thanks for your comment, Yair.