Coming together under the ad hoc rubric of Dependent Origination, five of the best players in the free-jazz continuum assembled on Nov. 5 at Bread & Salt for an evening of volcanic improvisation, deep listening and intuitive dialogue before a small but enthusiastic house.
Dave Sewelson began the proceedings with a harsh bellow from his baritone saxophone, soon joined by the mercurial additions of Peter Kuhn’s bass clarinet and the remarkably tart disposition of Dan Clucas’ cornet. Three independent conversations ensued, all supported by the orchestral percussion of Alex Cline and the just-audible bass strumming of Scott Walton. Sewelson took the first solo, full of gruff, yet gleeful repetitions before yielding to Kuhn’s Eb clarinet, which whistled and whinnied over the waves of Cline’s kinetic energy. Then, it was all Clucas, and man, he came “armed for bear,” shooting into the stratosphere like Freddie Hubbard on Coltrane’s “Ascension.” As the dynamics dimmed around him, Walton revealed a rubbery glissandi, although his sound tended to get lost in the huge refurbished warehouse. The horns reassembled, building from a funeral dirge into a sermon of braying multiphonics and glorious cacophony simultaneously brutal and tender.
Sewelson laid down his huge horn and picked up the tiny sopranino saxophone to wail in tandem with Kuhn, who had strapped on a tenor sax as each man went straight for the jugular in a post-Glenn Spearman cage match that culminated in a frenzy, which seemed to blend the sound of European sirens with a pack of malevolent jackals. Out of this mayhem, Clucas emerged with fat, brassy velocity and precise logic layering over Cline’s relentless ride cymbal -- back to Kuhn, who wasn’t finished, apparently, launching into another spiraling series of altissimo screams before handing the keys to Cline, who created a monumental structure of thunder claps and gunshots in the spirit of Sunny Murray before veering into an odd blend of Second-line with the Berundi traditions. Now, the sound of the horns swirled into the rafters as Clucas unveiled a final galvanizing clarion call.
It was the calling card of spontaneously organized joy. Five distinct interpretations of the moment playing out in real time. Music as a healing force, indeed.