Strange Attractors SAAH 039

An outstanding example of the merge between intelligent hard rock and energy music that many claim, but few can pull off, the Cline-Shoup-Corsano trio combines the best impulses from the improv and big beat worlds and wrap them into one concentrated slab of power.

Individually each player has a reputation for forthright improvising from his home base, but improvising together in a first-ever trio manifestation raises the ante that much higher. Los Angeles-based guitarist Nels Cline, of course, has a long history of work with multi-reedman Vinny Golia, and is now a member of Wilco. Seattle-based alto saxophonist Wally Shoup has played with improvisers such as bassist Ruben Radding as well as Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore. Youngest of the three, Massachusetts-based drummer Chris Corsano is a regular playing partner of uncompromising saxophonist Paul Flaherty.

Although the concentrated intensity of the more than 28-minute title track and the more than 13-mimnute “Beard of Pine” define the trio’s parameters, listeners are forewarned that this is no bucolic romp in the park by the fusillade on “Lake of Fire Memories”. It shows IMMOLATION/IMMERSION is as much a middle-finger-extended session as MACHINE GUN or ASCENSION.

On top of constantly shifting patterning rolls and flams from Corsano, the title track finds Cline putting aside his initial countrified licks for retching, crunching pile-driver chords that hold their own against falsetto, twisting reed-biting from Stoup, who has been playing that way for decades. Soon his cross flanging is joined by clanking fret work and triggered hissing sequences that push the saxophone’s output down to bull-like lowing. But as the sequenced buzzes and ring modulator gongs coagulate, Shoup vibrates arpeggios upwards, as Corsano’s simpatico accompaniment begins to resemble the sound of deep-echoing kettle drums. By the climax, a transformation has taken place. Cline’s freeform chording has become a blunted waveform version of the saxman’s tongue stopping, fluttering and overblowing.

This harmonic convergence is solidified on “Lake of Fire Memories” as widely spaced bass-string reverb slows down to measured quivers with slurred fingering as Shoup’s overblown multiphonics become more abstract. This time it’s Corsano’s ruffs and rebounds which harden, regrouping as locomotive powered-drumming with clanking cymbals marking the grade crossings.

No session for the faint of heart, IMMOLATION/IMMERSION should impress anyone who appreciates go-for-broke improvising and recall the time when electric-oriented jazz fusion meant experimentation, not grandstanding.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Lake of Fire Memories 2. Immolation/Immersion 3. Minus Mint 4, Beard of Pine 5. Ghost Bell Canto

Personnel: Wally Shoup (alto saxophone); Nels Cline (guitar); Chris Corsano (drums)