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Prophet Moon by Whit Dickey / Trio AHXOLOXHA

Trio AHXOLOXHA would come to anyone’s attention given the name itself. Whit Dickey leads the group of three. Dickey plays drums, Joe Morris, guitar, Rob Brown, alto sax. The recording is on Riti Records in an edition of 2000 released in late 2002.

The tale told here is indisputably one that demands that the listener maintain focus until some sort of closure is reached even if it never is---that is the mystery. By far, the nature of the music herein is pointillistic. A narrow window for melodious continuity exists. The window is penetrated more frequently than expected but oddly so. The melodies disappear rapidly. No humming material after this CD has finished playing.

This is an extremely abstract construction of music in the context of improvisation. As I listen I am trying to determine why. No fluidity, except in the brief minutes of bluesy tunefulness from the alto, persists here. In the consistent separation of notes each musician plays is the continuation. Brown’s rapid valving and direct tone choices unequivocally fall into Dickey’s cymbal ticking and Morris’s guitar string picking. When any solos, the solo is starkly rigidified within itself, but not in relation to the surrounding music.

Morris’s exemplary guitar work is mind boggling. His playing sets back most of the time as a bass player’s pizzicatos would both in modes that are half time slow, or double time fast. But when he comes forward, what Morris does does not release the listener. The notes on the guitar endlessly are moving somewhere. Dickey’s pace is not rhythmic; it is totally in keeping with the gears the alto and guitar have shifted to. His command of the drumset is total; he plays so evenly and quickly, the listener has to be careful to discover the shifts from sticks to mallets and those that tap the toms or snare or cymbals. Never is there a loud, overpowering crash. A resolve to thumping and ticking, but no crashes.

A hollowness pervades the restless music. The music is always in flight. In perpetual motion. The music resembles the reality of the superimposed photo of water on a picture of the moon on the cover of the CD. The ripples of water that do not subside. The moon where there is no water that never goes away but only appears and disappears with the right light of the sun.

The end of the recording captures the essence of the intention. The music fades out ironically with the crispness of the alto being the last sound the listener recalls. The fadeout is perhaps the only choice that could be made for a closing to a recording where the substance is constant motion.

The name of the trio seemingly makes no sense. It is a palindrome where the pivot is a right-angled "L" and the beginning and end of the meaningless word are wide-opened vowels. Readable as a metaphorical balance of what could be neverending lines, in the "L", which, if extended, are purposely directional, with an eternally vacant set of end points in the letter "A". Looked at closely, the two opposites have the same meaning: only from different standpoints. Thought about, the boundless duality defies the separation of its parts.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Whit Dickey / Trio AHXOLOXHA
  • CD Title: Prophet Moon
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Riti Records
  • Musicians: Whit Dickey (drums), Joe Morris (guitar), Rob Brown (alto saxophone)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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