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Letter From America by Paul Hemmings Trio with John Tchicai

Paul Hemmings is a talented guitarist who is as deft a distortionist as he is an outside tight-rope experimenter, offering an aural painting that is as bold as it is exciting. This is a successful album, not just for the coup of landing the famed avant-garde Danish saxophonist John Tchicai (a veteran of work with both John Coltrane and Archie Shepp) but for Hemmings compositional skills and the equally compelling aural/ artistic participation of the brilliant drummer, Adam Issadore, and the equally impressive electric and upright bassist, Gaku Takanashi. Combined with Hemmings outstanding guitar and mastery of the studio, this is a wholly exhilarating and expansive collection of eight brilliant original compositions. Benefiting from the drama that the musicians bring to the scores, it shifts from the rhythmic to the cacophonous sublimely.

The opening "Under A New Mexico Sky," also reprised as the finale, is worth the price of admission, alone. Here Tchicai blows a gorgeous motif under which the trio swirls and dances, with Hemmings delivering an intense guitar passage, particularly in the reprise, that dazzles. On "Radio Free America," following a radio dial scanning intro, replete with static, the assembled break into a tune that incorporates elements of Roswell Rudd with Mingus, with guitar and tenor working especially well off each other. On "The Battle New York City," bass and drums set up a hard tenor blow under which distorted guitar blows as mightily. "A Conversation In Central Park" opens with a serene music scape that brings early morning to mind before giving way to the sunshine and greater activity. The timbre and mood throughout is adventurous and riveting. Exemplary disc.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Paul Hemmings Trio with John Tchicai
  • CD Title: Letter From America
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Leading Tone
  • Rating: Four Stars
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