Cuneiform Records
Jazz, Jazz-Pop

Album Review

Mujician's first release was a long journey; their second release is a poem in five verses. Although all four musicians are active in other groups and as solo artists, at this point they had been playing together for roughly six years and they display the group sensitivity which is essential for a quality improvisational combo. Recorded in front of a small live audience, this performance is perhaps more abstract and free than the first effort, and has somewhat less in the way of overt Coltrane-isms. Although there are only a few extended solos taken, each musician has opportunities to show what he can do, as all five tracks provide a shifting kaleidoscope of duets and trios, as well as the frequent collective engagement of all four participants. Paul Dunmall, who plays only tenor and soprano saxes on this CD, is the emotional core of the group. He is a marvelously fluent and flexible player, but everything he plays also seems to have strong personal conviction. Pianist Keith Tippett, with his classical training, is the group intellectual, and is not adverse to outside techniques such as plucking or strumming the piano strings. Whenever the group direction seems to be headed toward the conventional, Tippett is usually the one who inserts the strange, unexpected chords or rhythmic bursts, as if to remind everyone (including other group members) that Mujician will not settle for the easy solutions. And while Tony Levin on drums and Paul Rogers on bass are by definition the "rhythm section," they are also much more than that. Rogers has a huge tone and superb intonation, and does far more than just establish a pulse. Likewise with Levin, who qualifies not only as a powerhouse, polyrhythmic drummer, but as a percussionist and "colorist." All verses on this recording are highly entertaining, but the last and longest, "Fifth Verse," at over 30 minutes, shows off the quartet at its most daring. Building on nothing more than some curious high-end ivory tinkling by Tippett, it gradually acquires the momentum of a runaway freight train by the time Dunmall wades in on tenor, and then abruptly slows to ballad romanticism, with Dunmall gorgeously lyrical for a while, and Tippett joining in for some very moody, impressionistic playing. One of the real pleasures of Mujician's collective improvisations, for the listener, is the opportunity for active participation in the experience, attempting to guess where a particular line of musical inquiry will lead, and continually being surprised (along with the members of the quartet, I suspect) that it has ended up where it has.
Bill Tilland, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. First Verse
  2. Second Verse
  3. Third Verse
  4. Fourth Verse
  5. Fifth Verse
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