Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Michael Bisio, Kirk Knuffke, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Requiem for a New York Slice

Truism: the improvisational world in its finest flower these days is a bit underground compared to something like Duke Ellington or Count Basie in the '40s. It is true in spite of some foolish talk out there that has nothing to do with the value and merit of the music itself, any more than an illusion-example that you might hit on that shows how ridiculous the idea is: if you claimed that Johann Sebastian Bach could not be very good since he did not make enough money or reach all that many people in his lifetime. The economy of the arts changes and that in the end has nothing to do with the quality of the music at any point.

So the music I talk about today will no doubt not be on anyone's best-selling music lists. I mean the double-platinum loot and all that stuff. And so what? Fact is the trio of Michael Bisio on acoustic bass, Kirk Knuffke on cornet and Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello is one of the high points of advanced free improvisation today to my mind, at least on the latest CD at hand, Requiem for a New York Slice (Iluso IRCD17).

Why do I say this? Playing freely is not just a matter of everything is great and "go man, go!" People singly and in units invent worthwhile things or they do not, or of course possibly something in between. In this case we have five improvisations that are excellent. It is a matter of the whole and the parts of course, and not any of either is necessarily equal to another. Here the level is high, in all senses.

Yes, Count on it. Here the level of invention is high throughout. The bowing-plucking possibilities of Bisio's contrabass and Lonberg-Holm's cello set up a textural matrix that contrasts very nicely with Knuffke's cornet.

All three are major players, it perhaps need not be said, and together they are something special. Each are at the top of my achievement lists (in my head) for their respective instruments today. And this album is one of the best examples of their art. So if such things interest you I suggest you give this music your full attention. Buy it. Hear it. Be cool. Make friends! I kid you not. This one hits on all cylinders and never lets up. It is supremely inventive trio music. So listen!

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