Thursday, May 25, 2017

JACKSON/BAKER/KIRSHNER “The Noisy Miner"
(Astral Spirits/Monofonus Press)




Free jazz just freaking talks to you, man, it’s a crazy conversation, but when you pin it down, such great depths of detail and language are revealed that you can’t unhear them. Stick a trio as remarkably in tune with one another as Keefe Jackson, Jim Baker, and Julian Kirshner in a room and hit record, and the sky’s the limit. “Well, duh,” you say, “that’s what jazz is sort of about, you chattering ninny.” It’s easy to generalize. I understand what you’re getting at. What you should understand, though, is that while The Noisy Miner exhibits all the hallmarks of improvisational sessions, it’s still a remarkable thrill hearing the interplay. I can’t help myself. What was the last great jazz record you heard? What grabbed you about it? Here, the trio burrow directly into your ear canals (especially if you’re listening on headphones) and tighten a vise grip around your chest, causing your heart rate to spike to unnatural levels. Sax bleats, piano runs, drums scatter, and your pulse quickens at the seemingly unresolvable momentum. But the players sense that, pull back, allow periods of relative calm, plateaus of rich tone, before they plunge headfirst into a new, mesmerizing freakout. Elements of classic ensembles punctuate the pieces – the press mentions Coltrane (especially on side A) and Sun Ra (side B features some far-out synth work) – and it’s not difficult to consider The Noisy Miner as an extension or even blood relative of remarkable records by such luminaries. But Jackson, Baker, and Kirshner provide their own stamp on their work – side B’s full-length meditation “There Is No Fact, However Insignificant” (perhaps an insight into our times) is proof positive that vast swaths of sonic exploration are as yet unexplored. Consider it a mission statement, an introductory inferno all up in your personal space. It is as welcome as it is uncomfortable. That is until it burrows under your skin and becomes a part of you. Then you owe it your life.

Astral Spirits/Monofonus Press

--Ryan Masteller

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