Horns In the Barrio

Fresh Sound at Bread & Salt

New music champion Bonnie Wright’s Fresh Sound series returned to its roots on April 10, eschewing a focus on contemporary classical music in favor of a blistering set of instantly composed free jazz performed by the two saxophone, one trumpet trio of Larry Ochs, Dave Rempis, and Darren Johnston.

The result was an evening of wonderful, glorious, organized chaos.

The opener began with ghostly overtones swirling throughout the high-ceilinged former industrial warehouse space of Bread & Salt as Ochs and Rempis auditioned gauzy harmonies while Johnston pulled in an opposite direction with tart interjections. Suddenly, the scene erupted into a wicked exchange of warbled saxophone multiphonics and trumpet subtones, which eventually veered into a remarkable Rempis feature that squawked and whimpered before Johnston and Ochs returned with a more orchestral direction to close it out.

Ochs began the next piece on sopranino saxophone, wailing in a frequency high enough to deputize the neighborhood canines, demonstrating his mastery of circular breathing and other extended techniques before removing the horn to stare at his associates in appreciation of where they ventured with the force he set in motion. Rempis and Johnston work equally well as a duo, and their following improvisation took on a spiritual dimension that transformed the Spartan room into a sonic cathedral.

Rempis led off the next one, conjuring a blend of Albert Ayler on one extreme and Arthur Blythe on the other, careening down uncharted waters before he was enjoined by his associates with layered melodies, sharp interjections and ecstatic sermonizing. A chain reaction ensued, with each member stirring an increasingly volatile pot where demons might be lurking. Then, the players began a slow walk in contrary motion around the space, really enlisting the room itself as the fourth member of a celestial quartet.

It was an arresting moment.

As an encore, the trio began with soft and delicate textures, creating, for an instant, the highly unlikely image of Stan Getz, Chet Baker and Lee Konitz navigating a blank page. That layer quickly dissolved to reveal a wild Pentecostal exchange of fervent ideology.

Fresh Sound indeed.        

 Robert Bush is a freelance jazz writer who has been exploring the San Diego improvised music scene for more than 30 years. Follow him on Twitter @robertbushjazz. Visit The World According to Rob.

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