George Crowley - Can of Worms
(Whirlwind. WR4666. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)
George Crowley's second CD treads a delicate path between out-and-out improvisation and very listenable-to modern jazz. The CD opens with the aptly named The Opener, with Crowley's almost plaintive sax, before band join in the almost M-Base groove, the two saxes winding around each other (Crowley in left channel, Tom Challenger in the right. Dan Nicholls' piano solo is set against just bass and drums, Nicholls playing an intense, abstract sequence of notes, until the rhythm section drop out and the two tenors battle it out in free improvisation. Nicholls comes back in with some rumbling, low chords, joined shortly by bass and drums. Quickly back up to speed, the saxes duet through to the close.
The Opener clearly sets the tone: a rich mix of styles, subtle playing balanced with sections of almost rock-like rhythms. The quintet manage to sound like a larger ensemble, perhaps down to the saxophones frequently playing different lines simultaneously, creating music with depth.
Crowley has a straight forward way with titles. The second track, featuring Nicholls on electric piano - credited as Wurlitzer on the CD - is called Whirl; the third is Ubiquitous Up Tune In 3 (which it is).
Whilst the saxophones provide the melodic narrative, Nicholls adds a lot of texture, his piano busily working away delicately beneath the saxophones. Sam Lasserson's bass and Jon Scott 's drums keep the music moving on.
A satisfying melange of post bop, free-er sounds and rhythmic variety make this an interesting collection, rewarding repeated listening. There is nothing startlingly new - as another track has it, I'm Not Here To Reinvent The Wheel (which finishes with laughter from the band) - but they do it very well. And every listen has left me wanting more.
George Crowley - tenor saxophone (l)
Tom Challenger - tenor saxophone (r)
Dan Nicholls - piano, Wurlitzer
Sam Lasserson - bass
Jon Scott - drums
LINK: Interview with George Crowley