The Electrics

Live at Glenn Miller Café
Ayler Records aylCD-034

Emphasizing growls, spits, smacks and pops from their respective instruments, The Electrics confirm that advanced techniques and free-form improvisations fit snugly within pitch-oriented performances without lessening inspiration or negating rhythmic excitement.

An EC-super group, the quartet members are international negotiators of both Free Improv and more traditional sounds. Norwegian finger-pumping bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten also plays in some of Chicago reedist Ken Vandermark’s bands. Distinctive German trumpeter Axel Dörner is redefining brass timbres on his own and with others in the U.S. and Europe. Understated percussionist Raymond Strid, a member of Gush, is Swedish, as is tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Sture Ericson, an accomplished journeyman player.

In fact, Ericson’s pressured bass clarinet glissandi coupled with Dörner’s triplet-laden flutter tonguing on “Electroots”, characterizes one unique outpouring. Partially curlicue and rococo, Håker Flaten’s slap bass and Strid’s rim-rubbing also link the piece to earlier jazz. Climaxing with whispering timbres – as do most of the other tunes – it makes a telling contrast to “Electrash” which precedes it. Here, the prickly layering of braying brass notes and slurry saxophone snorts reference the New Thing. But the spittle-encrusted glottal horn tones never shift the group as a whole away from passionate audience communication. Colored air pushed through lead pipe and body tube is just as effective, and as welcomed, as twisty-tongued chromatic runs, it appears.

Unless sanctioned musical conservatism has sadly reshaped jazz’s innate definitions, Live should be recognized without qualifications as an identifying archetype of top-flight contemporary improvisation.

Ken Waxman

CODA Issue 331