Two droll editions in the truly awesome & vast Rivers n’ Holland back-catalogue. Both excellent LP’s feature the two laureates rushing through improvisational expanse as a duumvirate with no supporting musicians or percussion throughout the entire session.
Activity/style wise, it is absolutely all over the shop, from hugely abstract articulations, cooperating yet fiercely independent, jittering start-stop bursts of nervous mosaics, careening speed-walking bass (DAMN fast!) caked in Sam’s manic super nimble high-energy & complexity-riddled spontaneous kaleidoscope, antiphonic-screel & exceptional primordial bow-work from Holland, vigorous-Jazz interlocking-improvisation & extensive free-extemporation rolling in & out of direct tandem on ever revolving cross-sections & wildly varying stages of interaction. The ridiculously adept quality of these two musicians & equally as fantastical – their concerted commitment & history of playing together, making their amalgamation a feat that’s difficult to fuck with. It seems a pity that ultra bad-ass virtuoso Barry Altschul, the sublime drummer that shared this profound bond/history & ability with both musicians did not make it onto these particular recordings, but it also makes these LP’s, in some respects, more special/stand-alone & thankfully there is a sprawling array of incredible recordings with all three musicians serving straight splendour that were issued over the many years (y’ want them ALL).
Both LP’s were exacted on the rather cult Improvising Artists label, run by Paul Bley & recorded in 1976. Little information is broadcast on the sleeve, & whether this material is improvised in it’s entirety is not confirmed. My suspicion is some vague references/preparation & scant & partial excogitation has been performed – cast adrift amongst the full forces of the Off-Road, but I could be mistaken as clearly shits choca-block with off-the-cuff avarice & avalanche. Each side of each LP is a complete track (four in total), three of which are over the twenty minute mark, no doubt all of which were dispensed in one take. Rivers alters his instrument for each excursion, going through soprano, tenor, flute & finally piano (all individually). The breadth of detail, alterations & energies through these tracks is gigantic, all cleft of course with some of the most immense virtuosity & precision you will hear, these nutters are total dons. Critically, & as seems to always be the case with Rivers & partly why I admire the cat so much, everything is direct, hands-on & ornate, never having a paucity/insufficiency of commotion or patterns even in slower & more abstract sections. Obviously, a bass & drums only album will appeal to the heads for it’s graphic display of technical sagacity & mad & kinetic prism-splaying mayhem & brain-scrambling perturb, but I actually think that they manage to accomplish & round-off something also in the realm of an accessible (blatantly not easy listening or commercial) “Jazz” album despite all the discord, convolution, breakneck & lack of percussion. A reet’ frkn knock-out chuck!!!
Label: Improvising Artists