October 1, 2001
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat
No innocents abroad, the members of the A.D.D. Trio are three experienced English-speaking musicians who choose to live in Continental Europe.
Bakers rather than cooks, the three have blended spoonfuls of improv, jazz, classical and New Music with some pinches of funk and rock onto this cookie sheet of original sounds. When that cookie crumbles — bisquitus disintegrat — what results is a torte, honeyed enough for the occasional sweet-fancier, but with enough tang and personality to impress the sophisticated nibbler.
American-born flute virtuoso Robert Dick, who relocated to Switzerland in the early 1990s, has brought his five standard, and a few self-created, flutes to discs with such improvisers as bassist Mark Dresser and reedist Marty Ehrlich. He's also been the recipient of grants to create and perform his own "classical" compositions. Irish-born guitarist Christy Doran, who lives in Lucerne, began playing in a duo with Dick when the later arrived in Switzerland. Doran was once part of storied Swiss combo OM, which included drummer Fredy Studer and saxophonist Urs Leimgruber. Since then he has written music for ballet, theatre and film.
When the two joined forces in 1993 with British-born, Paris-based drummer Steve Argüelles A.D.D. was formed. A founder of the gigantic Loose Tubes band, Argüelles played extensively with expatriate South African saxophonist Dudu Pukwana in London and was part of the Paris-based improv combo the Recyclers.
Recorded for Swiss radio in 1998, this disc finds each of the bakers throwing his ingredients into the batter, sometimes in quite unexpected ways. The lightly rocking "Whammy Bar", for instance, ostensibly a Doran feature, gets its forceful bass line from Dick's pumping contra bass flute.
On the other hand, the low-pitched F bass flute makes its appearance on the title track. This vertical blown woodwind's tones are sometimes blended with Dick's internal flute vocalizing for the reoccurring theme. With Doran adding the odd electronic aside, Argüelles has the most freedom here, but disappointedly sticks pretty close to regular drum patterns
Then there's "Endless None" a funk-drenched head banger, which shows how flute tones can actually combine with stroked guitar and recurrent percussion rhythms without sounding effete or out of place. No one is going to mistake Dick for PeeWee Ellis, but he shows that R&B means as much to him as Ravel & Beethoven.
Dick's own invention, the glissando headjoint makes its appearance on a couple of tracks. Designed to give him the freedom to quickly slide from one note to the other with an electric guitarist's facility, it most prominently shapes "Headjoint". Fascinatingly enough on this composition named for that late 20th century innovation though, it sounds exactly like the primitive quills Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas played on his 1928 recording of "Bull Doze Blues". Even the strummed guitar portions here appear to be as archaic on this tune as they sound on that blues recording from the 1920s.
Most of the time though, with the woodwind player bringing out his armory of specially designed flutes and using them as a human-powered synthesizers, things are a bit more modern. These nine shortish selections also prove that there's very little the three can't play.
Although in retrospect this confectionery may lack the flambéed ingredients that would raise it to cordon bleu from mere gastronomic status, it's still an enjoyable, easily digested session. It will appeal to anyone who appreciates the sound of any of the instruments, especially what issues from the utensil of master baker Robert Dick.
— Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Hopscotch 2. Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat (That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles) 3. Endless 4. Photosynthesis 5.Crinkum-Crankum 6. Der Grüne Heinrich
7. Headjoint 8. Whammy Bar 9. Three Characters
Personnel: Robert Dick (flute, alto flute, C bass flute, F bass flute, contrabass flute, glissando headjoint); Christy Doran (guitars); Steve Argüelles (drums)