Undivided

Movement Between Clouds
Multikulti Project MPT 002

By Ken Waxman

Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. At least that’s how it appears since American clarinetist Perry Robinson has joined the Undivided combo, adding his voice to what previously had been an indivisible whole, despite every member being from a different country.

Not that there’s anything particularly grating about the playing of the clarinetist who has followed a singular path since the 1960s. However by appending another reed sound to that of Polish bass clarinet, clarinet and tarogato player Wacław Zimpel, means that tentativeness infects this CD, compared to the band’s stronger debut session as a quartet, recorded five months previously. As a matter of fact, figuring that this record of a Warsaw concert is programmed in chronological order, all five don’t seem to be fully in sync until the final track, the nearly 20-minute “What A Big Quiet Noise.”

Here, finally the piano voicing of long-time American expatriate Bobby Few becomes as muscular as it had previously been metronomic. Ukrainian bassist Mark Tokar, somewhat of an invisible – or inaudible – man beforehand, produces string rumbles and launches into a well-paced linear solo, encompassing downwards rubs and col legno pops. Add the focused flams and cymbal colors from German drummer Klaus Kugel, and suddenly the rhythm section is boiling with barely restrained tension. As Few concentrates on tremolo patterning the reedists combine for altissimo extensions, with Robinson flutter tonguing in response to a pressurized obbligato from Zimpel. Eventually the piece climaxes with sluicing double counterpoint from both horns, complemented by strummed piano chords plus ruffs and rolls from the drummer.

Putting aside the hesitancy that results from a band slowly integrating a new member, this final track demonstrates that Undivided could soon be undivided once again. It probably is. Considering this CD is two years old, more recent documents would tell the story.

Tracks: Hoping The Morning Say; Moves Between Clouds; What A Big Quiet Noise

Personnel: Perry Robinson: clarinet; Wacław Zimpel: bass clarinet, clarinet and tarogato; Bobby Few: piano; Mark Tokar: bass; Klaus Kugel: drums and percussion

—For New York City Jazz Record December 2011