This seminal trio blossomed at a time when Ornette Coleman and like-minded pioneers were redefining the nature of jazz music. Ultimately, noted journalist Art Lange provides the historical aspects and facts behind the motivations behind the music, amid artist bios and much more. Call it chamber-jazz, freedom of expression, or whatever suits your fancy. No doubt, students of music might detect disparate elements all rolled up into one fanciful package.
The trio of clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre, pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow carve out a unique and undeniably stylized musical vernacular during these 2-CDs, recorded live in Germany (1961). The musicians multitask via an abundance of crafty rhythmic maneuvers, contrapuntal voicings, extended harmonies and much more. At times, Giuffre and Bley mimic each other’s improvisational exercises, while Swallow acts as the common denominator during these generally, melodically tinged pieces. A portion of these works boast Gershwin-like themes melded with infrequent nods to the austere classical genre. But they also swing throughout a myriad of contrasting sequences. On "Call Of The Centaur," Giuffre and Bley engineer a whirling melody that gravitates into a brisk swing vamp. Here and throughout, the band delves into freeform routes, sparked with oddly concocted harmonies and intersecting themes. They bent the rules a bit, where categorizations and stereotypes were reduced to an inconsequential notion. With that, this release should be deemed essential listening for anyone, willing to open his or her minds and ears. (Strongly recommended.... )