What a privilege to witness this fantastic quartet up close and personal in the Cafe Oto project space last week. I attended two out of the four evenings of the residency, which was convened by Noble as a tribute to Milford Graves’ pioneering New York Art Quartet.
This was no bloodless eulogy, rather a full-throttle skedaddle that took Graves’ work as a point of departure and blasted off into the cosmos, throwing out sinous, bluesy motifs and clattering arrythmic beats.
The quartet managed the feat of locking together as unit, their individual skeins of sound expertly weaving in and out of each others’ playing, while summoning forth their own cocoons of sound.
The result was a complex, playful, rigorous, instinctive, abrasive, melodic, stormy tapestry, encompassing subtlety and quiet as much as tempestuous jamming.
Seymour Wright was in looser, bluesier form that I’d seen for a while, although there was still plenty of his trademark atonality. A fine performance, as ever.
Inventive improvisation from Ian McLachlan, with all manner of mutes and reeds, bringing much sonic variety to his contributions.
Guillaume Viltard was as a physical as ever, combining fierce plucked bass runs with occasional bowed interventions. Intense.
At the eye of the hurricane: Steve Noble. Incredible technique, non-stop invention. Check the kit. It’s not jazz, but it’s not not jazz. Get me?