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Too, too often, “free jazz” or “improvised” or “experimental jazz” gets ruined in the transition from live music to recorded music because the musicians hold on to an illusion that the recording should be as close to their live performance as possible. The end result is a dryly recorded, difficult-to-pay-attention-to document with certain techniques that were used to great effect live (sparse tension, a sense of being lost in sound and suddenly coming across a sonic epiphany) just seem muddled and boring (they aren’t when you see them in person, but a record is never, ever “in person.”). Alternately, the musicians go an equally questionable route and perform wildly overwritten pieces that bear little to no resemblance to listenable music whatsoever (we can thank or blame a number of early 20th century Europeans for that). Gus Weinkauf and Jeremy Strachan deftly avoid this dilemma by offering us a tightly played, tightly arranged set of blazing ColtranemeetsSchoenberg-and-then-they-start-aBlackFlag-cover-band originals, with a cover of Summertime thrown in as if to imply some kind of musical supremacy. I must give superlative compliments to Jeff Murrich for perfect recording here, too. One of the best of 2006. (Matt Collins)


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