Anna Webber: tenor saxophone, flute; Matt Mitchell: piano; John Hollenbeck: drums.
Anna Webber, a genuine Brooklynite reedist, reconvenes the Simple Trio - Matt Mitchell on piano and John Hollenbeck on drums - and releases Binary, her second album of originals on Skirl Records.
Focusing on a strong collective improvisational concept, Webber and her valuable peers often exercise in tension and release, building up intense musical moments and avoiding conventional approaches or structures.
A provocative, dark-hued exaltation can be felt in “Impulse Purchase”, a tune that constantly balances the light and the heavy, the thoughtful and the impulsive, the contemplation and the action. It starts with Webber’s serpentine saxophone phrases, which are joined by the broken comping of Mitchell, a master in the harmonic deconstruction, and the urgent vitality of Hollenbeck’s exciting drumming. The trio gradually galvanizes energies toward the end.
In “Underhelmed”, Hollenbeck finds his way into a muscled rock, while Mitchell remains devoted to his philosophy of generating breathtaking harmonic passages brewed up together with giddy rhythmic intentions. Webber, in turn, holds onto a state of intense melodic-rhythmic creativity. The tune’s energy switches on our body movements for a spasmodic dance.
The compositional nature of “Tug O’ War” and the choice of flute, calls Henry Threadgill to the scenario. Yet, the reinforcement of the iterative musical ideas translated into an organic compound of sounds is reminiscent of Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet’s explorations. After the storm, the trio slows down for a sober finale.
The title track, alternating between mournful and effusive, starts to be shaped with the help of Mitchell’s melancholic piano textures, the dark timbre of Webber’s beseeching saxophone, and Hollenbeck’s alert brushwork. The inherent tension initially created is widely expanded as the tune moves forward, bringing us short, and often surprising, rhythmical transmutations and mood discrepancies.
Scattered throughout the record, six energizing short tracks named “Rectangle” share similar melodic patterns, cyclic harmonic progressions, and relentless rhythms.
A fervent freedom can be felt in Binary, an avant-garde vessel that navigates among ripe ideas and pugnacious sounds.
02 – Impulse Purchase ► 05 – Underhelmed ► 08 – Binary