August 28, 2021
Alan Wilkinson/Dirk Serries
One in the Eye
New Wave of Jazz NWOJ 0
Live at Bråkfest
Oemrecords OEM 015
Unabashed Energy Music, the two-CD extended and one-CD brief sessions featured have players prodding, pulling and pushing textures into improvisations’ furthest reaches. What’s surprising through it that among the bombast and bellowing that's projected are the architectural perceptions of Belgian acoustic guitarist Dirk Serries. Veteran of out-of-the-ordinary creations over the years, Serries is here partnered with British improvisers. He and experienced multi-reedist Alan Wilkinson, who has played with Steve Noble are the duo on One in the Eye; while alto saxophonist Colin Webster and drummer Andrew Lisle, who have worked with Daniel Thompson, make up the Kodian Trio with Serries.
Recorded in Anderlecht Belgian and London, the Wilkinson/Serries session approaches tandem improvising at varied lengths. The Anderlecht studio meeting is divided into seven mid-sized tracks, while the live London gig sprawls over two extended challenges. Every manner of extended techniques tried out by Wilkinson as he moves among alto and baritone saxophones and bass clarinet with triple tonguing, reed biters, lowing, doits, timbral squawks, clarion sniffles and vocal speaking-in-tongues projected from the horns’ body tubes. Meanwhile Serries hard strums and frails complement the expositions, whether they’re quietly distant or over-the-top emphatic. Although a couple of the other tracks suggest that Wilkinson is referencing contrafacts or quotes from other melodies, “Hand over Fist” stands out as the most assured and diverse program. As writhing baritone sax lines and rhythm guitar-like crunches intersect, the piece swells and shakes until it’s further torqued with cuckoo-clock-like chiming from Wilkinson. Guitar power chording keeps the narrative horizontal as the saxophonist’s playing becomes more fragmented, accelerating to squealing and shattering multiphonics. Bypassing the saxophonist’s descent into lowing reed tones and Bedlam-like verbalized crying through the horn, Serries paced frails centre the dual communication. With other tunes based on how chalumeau clarinet tones mellowing from pig snorts to molasses smoothness (“In the Here and Now”); or how smacks against the guitar body’s wood and repeated string vibrations can relax what starts as a honking, whistling and screaming reed tone examination (“The Stings of the Flesh In the Long Run’) almost every reed-string paradigm appears to be exposed. That’s why the session can be fruitfully concluded as reed snorts and vocal retches fade alongside the concentrated power of strummed strings.
Rapprochement restraint is put aside two months later when the two play London’s Hundred Years Gallery. Especially telling is the second improvisation which begins lower case and low pitched. Then a sharpened stroke from Serries introduces a display of slurps, snarls and through-the-body tube vocalizing by Wilkinson that sounds as if he’s swallowed the reed and mouthpiece whole. Altissimo reed bites and staccato stutters finally make common cause with ambulatory guitar comping.
Embedded with Lisle and Webster as part of the Kodian Trio a month later in the same location, Serries and the others create take-no-prisoners Free Jazz. Lasting less than 24½ minutes, so many alto saxophone smears, snarls and screeches, pummeling drum ruffs and reverberating guitar flanges are output that it appears impossible for the broken-octave line to expand at greater length. But there is room for a brief unaccompanied showcase for each player. As expected Webster spills Morse-code-like theme variations as flattement, stressed whines, and tongue slaps until he returns to horizontal blowing. Lisle illustrates his style with pile-driver smacks, ruffs and bass drum pops until reverting to a shuffle. And Serries’ string plinks plucks and pops define the program’s connectivity with metallic stings. Following a few more Webster tongue stops and string clips the piece climaxes.
More comprehensive and cordial affiliations than what existed between the EU and the UK, these cross-border meetings are also more notable. They define Free Music more comprehensively than the Common Market ever did free trade.
Track Listing: One: Disc One: 1. Upshot 2. One in the Eye 3. In the Here and Now 4. Hobson’s Choice 5. The Stings of the Flesh In the Long Run 6. Hand over Fist 7. Pull the Other One Disc Two : 1. HYG 1 2. HYG 2
Personnel: One: Alan Wilkinson (alto and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet and voice) and Dirk Serries (acoustic guitars)
Track Listing: Live: 1. Live at Bråkfest-
Personnel: Live: Colin Webster (alto saxophone); Dirk Serries (acoustic guitars) and Andrew Lisle (drums)