July 20, 2007

There’s No Going Back Now
Cuneiform Rune 232

Kinetic and dramatic, this CD demonstrates the many ways in which this British quartet has attained the state of interactive perception that characterized earlier Free Jazz ensembles like John Coltrane’s classic quartet. Rarely does a note or phrase sound from one soloist without connective, reflective timbres arriving from another interlocking part of Mujician.

Together since 1988, the band’s four members function as they do because of nearly 20 years of shared history. Additionally, this disc’s one extended composition gives them ample space for connective displays. Unreeling concentrically from a gentle introduction, replete with calming piano chords from Keith Tippett and delicate reed colors from Paul Dunmall’s saxophones, the piece concludes diminuendo with barely-there keyboard runs and disassociated squeaks from Paul Rogers’ bass.

Most of the extended middle section includes erupting honks and screeching split tones from Dunmall’s tenor saxophone, as well as his peeping and cheeping soprano saxophone runs. Nevertheless, Trane quartet comparisons end with his authoritative reed power. That’s because Tippett is no modal monster like McCoy Tyner, depending more on key clipping and internal piano stops and Rogers’ thick harmonics are more upfront than Jimmy Garrison’s accompaniment ever was. Most notably, veteran drummer Tony Levin is an Elvin Jones’ contemporary rather than a descendent. His pinpointed rhythms glue the tune’s pieces together rather than bombastically attracting attention as Jones’ sometimes did

Appropriately titled, There’s No Going Back Now encapsulates the sentiment the quartet engenders with its powerhouse work. It also suggests that the future will bring forth other major statements.

— Ken Waxman

CODA Issue 334