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New Folk, New Blues
Jazz Review (UK)
Chris Parker

Four extended free improvisations from four musicians clearly very much at home in the genre, New Folk, New Blues rings the changes between the quietest music (barely heard scrapings, rustlings, cracklings, little bursts of electronic sound, baritone and tenor bat-squeaks, odd percussive splashes, choked cymbals, thumps and bumps); hectic free-for-alls (full-on screaming saxophone from one-time Braxton partner Scott Rosenberg, hurtling rhythm section, Jim Baker either splashing up and down the keyboard or utilising his extraordinary range of synthesised sounds and electronica to create high-volume sound sculptures); and all points on the curve linking them.

Although they are obviously entirely comfortable with complete abstraction, the four men are, ironically, perhaps most impressive when they allow their jazz roots to show. “Knives, Swords, Flags", for instance, despite starting with a selection of almost Donald Duckish baritone quacking and slurping and ending with inside-the-piano work that conjures up sounds reminiscent of far Eastern music, contains an exhilarating section of relatively conventional free jazz in which Rosenberg's baritone screams over a brisk rhythm section almost playing “time". Music with all its effort unconcealed (on “Laugh Your Troubles Away", for instance, Rosenberg's gulps of air between bursts of ferocious improvising are as impressive as anything Muse's Matthew Bellamy has ever produced), this album will not appeal to the faint-hearted, but should impress those committed to full-on collective improvisation.

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