March 29, 2022
The Lenox Brothers
Amirani Records AMRN 067
Adam Nolan Trio
Prim and Primal
No label No #
Saxophone trio discs from expected (Italy) and unexpected (Ireland) places show that innovative music isn’t limited to those in locales with major Jazz reputations. The Lenox Brothers for instance is a new name for a group featuring Pavia-born soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo who over the years has partnered with international players from Vinny Golia to the late Gianni Lenoci, the dedicatee of the disc. His associates are part of the fertile Italian creative music scene: bassist Pierpaolo Martino, who has recorded with likes of Steve Beresford; and drummer Francesco Cusa, who also leads the Assassins band. Part of a lesser-known – or perhaps unknown – is a better adjective. Gaelic improv scene, Kilkenny-based alto saxophonist Adam Nolan’s Prim and Primal also features bassist Derek Whyte and drummer Dominic Mullan.
Working from a FreeBop base, Nolan often echoes biting tones within his horn’s body tube as well as injecting triple tongued notes in an up and down roller-coaster ride. Meanwhile Whyte resonates an unhurried bass line even as he moves up and down the string set, and Mullan’s paradiddles and cymbal clashes confirm the sequences’ patterns whether at relaxed or boisterous tempos. As reed honks and slurs ascend to multiphonics, the saxophonist’s clarion strategy squeezes so many tones into his solos that they threaten to overflow, but don’t. Meanwhile the rhythm section busily stuff additional shakes and ruffs into their output for additional sequences concentration. Together they build up to “The Magic Carpet” and “Kung Fu Master Vs The Ape”, the penultimate and concluding tracks. Establishing himself on the first with a single foghorn-like blast, Nolan then mashes snarling notes into his exposition. Ascending to triple-tongued trilling, his Woody Woodpecker-like bites meet sympathetic bass thumps. This leads into “Kung Fu Master Vs The Ape”, whose expected pugnacious energy is defined by hard percussion smacks and ruffs, string strums and packed horn flattement, projected at staccato and allegro tempos. Attaining an almost opaque state, the session just stops.
A more evenly paced disc, the Lenox Brothers ease into their nine improvisations with echoing cymbal clanks, thick double bass thumps and top-of-range reed clarion flutters. Maintaining this bright tone, the trio members chug along for lyrical and logical themes and variations, with chalumeau register wavers and mellow moody variations intersecting with string buzzes and cymbal splashes as much as staccato outpourings. The most atonal three-way conversation takes up the album’s mid-section on the extended “South Bay Drive-Bay Lanes” and the brief “The Mesmerising Speech”. Musically descriptive without being programmatic, the harshness that has been muted on earlier tracks is prominent. With an overriding shrill from Mimmo’s horn, the first tune evolves allegro as drum crunches and chunky string stops add nocturnal gravitas. Circularly breathed reed work repeats whorls of altissimo screams until the rhythm sections’ backbeat stabilizes linear flow. Reflecting its title, “The Mesmerising Speech” is more strident. Here rigid strokes from spiccato strings and clashing drum ruffs push reed buzzes lower until a literal last minute change of pace completes the sonic thought with a light-toned soprano trill. Wrapping up the narratives with revealing clues as in a murder mystery, the final tracks introduce calmer and more flexible interludes. Mimmo converts seemingly-unstoppable dissected split tones into relaxed tremolo on “The Ride”, with that journey ridden out andante with sul tasto buzzes from Martino and press rolls from Cusa. As that track drones into the final “A Waving Recall”, loosened resonating strings and a drum backbeat underline conclusive clarion reed puffs.
Although Ireland and Italy may not have much else in common, these sessions prove that at least some musicians there do improvisation soundly and creatively.
Track Listing: Prim: 1. Expand the Tempo 2. The Modern Jazz Trio 3. Latin Jazz? 4. Ancient Mayan Jungle 5. The Magic Carpet 6. Kung Fu Master Vs The Ape
Personnel: Prim: Adam Nolan (alto saxophone); Derek Whyte (bass) and Dominic Mullan (drums)
Track Listing: Township: 1. Undescriptive 2. Stranded Stomp 3. The Meanwhile Groove 4. South Bay Drive-Bay Lanes 5. Insistent-Persistent 6. The Mesmerising Speech 7. Township Nocturne* 8. The Ride 9. A Waving Recall
Personnel: Township: Gianni Mimmo (soprano saxophone, vocal *); Pierpaolo Martino (bass) and Francesco Cusa (drums)