John Fordham. The Guardian
The evolution of the saxophonist and composer Julian Arguelles into the British Joe Lovano (with plenty of Celtic and European free-improv variations of his own) has been an absorbing process to witness. Arguelles begins a British tour in mid-October with this cutting-edge trio - featuring Americans Michael Formanek and Tom Rainey, usually associates of Tim Berne, on bass and drums. Arguelles' speed of thought, unpredictability, resourcefulness and tonal command with several reed instruments links him to the musics of Ornette Coleman, Steve Lacy and Evan Parker, and his partners are on his case at every twist and turn.
Some pieces fizz, wriggle and stop dead like fast Ornette tunes; some are gently folksy; some feature overdubbed horns, alongside Formanek's rumbling basslines and Rainey's fierce polyrhythms. Eight short pieces (less than two minutes each) complete the set, moving from slow soprano swirls to ambient hums, blurted free-jazz tenor sax, and dreamily whistling flute ensembles. This is very sophisticated contemporary jazz.
Peter Bacon, Jazz Breakfast
JAZZ CD OF THE WEEK
The last Arguelles album featured a large group plus string orchestra; now he places himself in the most exposing of settings, with New Yorkers Michael Formanek on bass and Tom Rainey on drums his only company.
The opener, Evan’s Freedom Pass (a reference to Evan Parker?) introduces us to a new and forceful Arguelles, whipping up a storm with a short, repeating riff.
Even at this speed – and Rainey and Formanek certainly keep him flying – the characteristic Arguelles improvisational phrases emerge, and he still manages to attend to his tone.
Track two and we are back on more familiar territory – the saxophonist builds a woodwind section in the studio and the melody has an aching and very English grace to it.
Rainey’s cymbal work is a thing of beauty too, while Arguelles moves seamlessly from written tune to improvisation on flutey soprano.
Which Way Out is an old Arguelles tune given some exciting new twists – thrill to Rainey’s intro.
Formanek does some great counter melody work behind an exceptionally fleet-footed tenor solo.
At this point the album takes an odd turn, becoming a series of miniatures, half of them credited to all three players as group improvisations.
Sub Rosa fits a lot into its one minute 22 seconds – a jewelled pendant in sound – while Bottom Drawer Pages again has the leader building textures from flutes and bass clarinet as well as saxophones.
I’m still finding out how to listen to the final eight short tracks – separately or as a whole – but it’s proving a very rewarding exercise.