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Hession/Wilkinson/Fell: Two Falls & A Submission; Alan Wilkinson: Practice; Simon H. Fell: Frank & Max

img  Tobias Fischer

If you’re a Briton of a certain age, the Hession/Wilkinson/Fell trio were the antidote to clichés about English insect music; to anyone else who caught on, they were evidence that free jazz of a very high order was not only still being made, but it didn’t have to sound just like records that were recorded before anyone saw that posthumously released picture of Lyndon Johnson with long hair. Then they spent a decade doing other things, some of them quite superb, but nothing quite the same as this trio — proof positive that they were on to something not only great, but essentially personal. Those guys had chemistry. Then they got back together in 2010; if you were that Briton, this record, made in Monmouth during that reunion tour might be proof that the guys still have it. The rest of us, who haven’t been so well situated geographically or temporally, will have to settle for saying that this is (ahem) free jazz of a very high order, capable of hitting as hard as your favorite Brötzmann-led combo, playing as nuanced as your favorite Parker/Guy/Lytton set, and audibly, utterly in the moment.

Besides composing for and conducting large ensembles, Fell spent those ten years away from the trio making a solo album. Like any record of unaccompanied double bass music, Frank & Max is for specialized tastes, but if you’re already ready to go there, you’ll probably want to stay with this one a while. Fell is equally persuasive plucking a quietly buzzing abstraction from a Bill Evans tune, playing arco like a bull precisely goring an annoying runner, or wrenching complex, explosive tone clusters from a custom-built 5-stringed instrument because he has the right balance of chops, poise, and fearlessness to get the job done. Wilkinson’s also done a solo record, drawn from recordings made in two different practice rooms a year apart. The title Practice does more than reference locale; this record sums up Wilkinson’s practice as an instrumentalist. On both alto and baritone horns he’s a guy who picks a path and sticks to it. Even the 14-minute long “Flush. Dalston No 2” pursues an unbroken thread of through a myriad of textures, attacks, and volumes. There’s a fine, unsentimental take on Ornette’s “Lonely Woman,” but I prefer the longest originals; they offer the best chance to appreciate Wilkinson’s persistence of vision.

By Bill Meyer

Homepage: Simon H. Fell
Homepage: Paul Hession
Homepage: Bo’Weavil Records

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