MAXIMUM ERNST with DANIEL CARTER “Live at Legion Hall” C20 (Ever/Never Records)

The drums/guitars/tape duo Maximum Ernst has played and recorded with the saxtastic Daniel Carter before, and here, on Live at Legion Hall (could be anywhere! [probably NYC]), they converge again, to wreak havoc and jot down names in a notebook. Defying the Vegas oddsmakers who said that Ernst (a duo, not a person, remember) and Carter would never be able to capture the same magic they once possessed, the trio summon a demon of inner talent so potent as to potentially wipe Las Vegas completely off the map – if they so chose. But they’re going to let the Oakland A’s move there first, I guess – nice folks, these improv jazzers.

Over two untitled and sidelong tracks, Carter provides virtuoso reedwork as the Ernst boys lay a foundation of stuttering or seething or torrential or molten dynamics, first with guitar and drums, then with tape loops, and then with tape loops and drums. What’s obvious is that everything is constantly shifting, like a tectonic event, so that Carter has to really pay attention to keep his footing. In the end, he’s more than up to the task, navigating the warped and wobbling landscape until he becomes a freakish part of it, adding to the madness yet charting a course through it. If that sounds like some kind of grand feat of derring-do, you’re right!