Tarfala Trio - Syzygy (NoBusiness Records, 2011)


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Drawing on the legacy of Albert Ayler's extraordinary trio LP Spiritual Unity, The Tarfala Trio, consisting of Mats Gustafsson on saxophones, Barry Guy on bass and Raymond Strid on drums and percussion take the notion of open-ended free jazz and make an impassioned statement that would certainly have made Ayler proud. Opening with “Broken by Fire," the band sets the stage for their opening improvisation by probing at the edges of the music, before Gustafsson finds a path with ecstatic tenor saxophone supported by elastic bass and drums. Strong peals of saxophone run deep establishing the late-period Coltrane/Ayler influence as the music develops into a strong and potent force. Throttling back to a skittering bass and drums section, they develop a quiet form of improvisation, which begins to re-build gradually, before saxophone again develops gales of sound before slowing down to a quiet, spare finale. “Lapilli Fragments" sounds like quantum flux in musical space with notes and sounds popping in and out of existence. The seemingly random sounds coalesce into the (well named) fragments of melody and harmony as the music further develops. Bowed bass and light saxophone play with an against each other in open space, with scattered blasts to saxophone echoing against the interplay. “Cool in Flight" begins with open and exploratory quiet wisps of sound as bowed bass and saxophone swirl and sway. A quiet borderless atmosphere pervades the music here, before Gustafsson leads a charge with strong and emotional bursts of sound, urgently moving the music forward. The end the piece by gradually pulling back to the opening spacey feel. Light and agile percussion ushers in “Tephra" with the bells and raw saxophone developing a distinctive atmosphere. Raw and exciting saxophone and drums revolve around a rock solid bass pivot point, building into a deeper and stronger collective improvisation. Anxious sounding bowed bass and percussion open “Syzygy" before saxophone contributes reeling blasts and then lays out, creating nervous, uncomfortable silences and extraordinary dynamic tension. They resolve the tension by blasting into overdrive for a rousing conclusion. This band may dwell at the other end of the spectrum from mainstream jazz, but it suits them well. Developing a cascade of responses to the musical opportunities their creativity allows, they spin extraordinary improvisations out of the raw materials of heart, soul and spirit. Syzygy—NoBusiness Records

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This story appears courtesy of Music and More by Tim Niland.
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