January 15, 2001
Braced & Framed
Spearheaded by trombonist Gail Brand, Lunge is a quartet of youngish, non-idiomatic British improvisers who confirm that true musical exploration is still flourishing in the United Kingdom. Most impressively, this debut disc gives full-bore exposure to the trombonist's varied talents.
Brand not only suggests the fluid modern plunger tradition of men like Roswell Rudd and Jimmy Knepper on tunes like "White Coat Perspective", but on "Later" and others certainly proves that an out-and-out avant gardist can nevertheless wield the slide as speedily as any bebopper. Only 29, the trombonist has already racked up an impressive list of credentials with membership in bassist Simon Fell's Quintet and work with the London Improvisers Orchestra and such "older" innovators as pianist Veryan Weston and guitarists Billy Jenkins.
As impressive, but a bit more widely recorded, the other three players use BRACED as another forum to showcase their skills. Best known as an accompanist for saxophonists Evan Parker and Paul Dunmall, Sanders is a subtle percussionist. On tunes such as "Jack The Superstitious Al" he creates his part of the equation out of cymbal tickles, rims struck by sticks and syncopated bongo beats, as well as more accepted, "jazzy" bomb dropping.
In part, both he and Brand are able to perfect their improvisational flights because of the backing provided by the other quartet members. Thomas is equally at home in pop, jazz, improv and so-called New Music, while Durrant, brings electronic and acoustic wizardry to his work with saxophonist John Butcher among others. Perhaps because of their mastery of traditional instruments, the two, here and elsewhere, singly and together, have demonstrated the most absorbing way to harness electronics with improvisation. Mating real time human expression with mechanized manifestations seems to be the key.
"Sensitive Crime", for instance, balances guttural trombone reverberations with electronic whooshes, while the title track draw attention to Brand's breath control. "Jack The Superstitious Al" displays plunger work on a canvas of Sun Ra-like, otherworldly gleeps, tweaks and buzzes. Want to hear a freewheeling opus partially built out of what appears to be static, found sounds and running motors? BRACED & FRAMED uses it all in a profoundly musical matter.
This disc is worth investigating for anyone interested in the future of improvisation and some of its younger and more innovative practitioners. One more thing, which should really not have to be mentioned in the 21st Century: Brand is a woman.
— Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. One Good Solid Punch 2. White Coat Perspective 3. Sensitive Crime 4. Jack The Superstitious Al 5. Braced & Framed 6. There Isn't Time 7. Another Good Solid Punch 8. Further
Personnel: Gail Brand (trombone); Phil Durrant (violin, electronics); Pat Thomas (keyboards, electronics); Mark Sanders (drums, percussion)