Another shocker in the girls-locker from exponential inferno megalith Roscoe Mitchell. Very alluring splay of figures in the construct of cello (Tomeko Reid), trap drums (Vincent Davis) & stand-up bass (Junius Paul) pretty much guaranteeing dynamism & a colossal range of climates & forms to roam through. As the title suggests, the album is homage to fellow AACM saxophonist Fred Anderson & also includes two of his compositions (Ladies In Love & Bernice). There are six tracks in total, spanning a considerable array of species, moods & modes. As you would rightfully brace for – Roscoe throttles the very fabric of sound into the kind of preposterous multifaceted mutation & chronic cacophonic contumacy override that perches him way-up on his own out-crop, quibble free. On a good half of the album, your arse is in the oven under the beam of the full sedulous, strident circular-breathing (circular saw?) meta-fray, like being soaked in boiling oil from the turrets. The rest of the consociation all interact fantastically well with considerable variegation summoned. The ignition piece – “Song For Fred Anderson” tilts the dials at seventeen minutes … it’s all over the place, wandering from one set of scenarios to others with the musicians slinking in & out of the transpiration in a polyglot of diversity, adaption & shifting scenarios & scenery. Along with his ravenous fast excoriation, Roscoe is also defined by his regular use of extremely uncompromising, gone-off/bad-note, uncomfortably discordant, drawn out minimalist style. Like an extreme antipode to his rapid & volcanic tumescence approach, this extreme mockery of sound, like some kind of damaged sonic or impaired melody also surfaces on this recording at certain intervals. The second & third tracks (“Bernice” & “The Velvet Lounge”) stray from the mark for me & suffer from an insubstantial quandary & a sense of hesitation. It’s not until the albums apex “Hey Fred” comes for the fourth installment, literally, charging down the ravine with the typhoons marauding at it’s flanks in full maniac regalia. Now, it’s time to talk about Junius Paul whom I previously had no experience of! This is one bad motherfucker! Although in spaces he demonstrates clearly the capacity for restraint, he is mostly very proactive, constantly expounding with fully engrossed, all-out perfervid élan. Check one! His other proclivity & power on this session, one that really pushes this particular track to the forefront, is his insanely fast & sustained turbo-swing, or perhaps “Blitz-Bop” is a better definition? The geezer just chomps through it like a madman, even tempo jumping. Roscoe goes berserk. Vincent is like a dinghy being dragged by a concord… he does a great job, & most importantly survives! as Paul burns the safety manual & jousts with repetitive strain injury on some kind of expedited marathon fret endurance. Gloriously wild! Reckless & shocking! Vincent Davis’s ingenuity in performing “modes of mobility” to accommodate the merciless, totally out-of-hand voracity from Junius in the “Swing” rubric is another great marvel. To go toe-to-toe with Junius on this level, at that tempo, playing the authentic cymbal work would demand a very’ very specific & rare kind of lunatic. One that’s not just physically & technically capable but also un-bothered about the potential arthritis of the hands that discharging Swing’s consistent tight double & triplet requirements at such monstrous velocities would entail. Marcus Gilmore & Tyshawn Sorey would presumably be good candidates for such a super challenge. Another guy that you really’ really don’t hear enough of is Anthony Cole, an extraordinarily powerful, agile & ridiculously fast drummer (& multi-instrumentalist) who played extensively with the late Sam Rivers (along with bassist Doug Mathews, another multi-instrumentalist). Cole can Blitz-Bop like nobody’s nut-sack! Another tear-away for the task would of course be that velociraptor Kikanju Baku! The fastest joker in the whole goddamn deck. After Junius eventually relents & resorts to a super primal low note repetition, Vincent starts this collapsing mountain pattern, tumbling all over the kit like falling rock formations whilst Tomeka agitates all over the shop-floor. It’s an absolute clarion, far-far-far-out, tremendous! Roscoe intensifies at three major junctions, eventually concluding with drawn out screams or “extreme finger-nails down the black-board” gouges! BLOODY HELL! It’s that whole “it can’t get any more climatic”, but then somehow, impossibly, there’s a way to intensify on the intensity. Rare dimensions. Roscoe evacuates, leaving chaos, just churning out like a humongous battle landscape. Junius eventually returns alone & dispatches a deft-as bass solo! The track clocks in at 17.05! it’s definitely the highlight of the album, an astonishing & stand-out furor that’s for me one of Roscoe’s greatest tunes of all time & a special moment in ultra-severe Free Jazz excess.
Following the storm, we have Ladies in Love, another track that misses me entirely. The last track “Cermak Road” picks it up again & is a quality piece. Unfortunately, it’s very short lived, just under four minutes, the obligatory encore I presume? It could definitely of gone on & gone-off to goodness knows where.
Overall, what a great disc! It’s worth your guts in a knapsack just for “Hey Fred” alone which seriously has to be some of the most intense, joyous & insane Free Jazz I have ever actually heard.