Clusone Trio: Love Henry

COMPOSERS: Clusone Trio
LABELS: Gramavision
PERFORMER: Michael Moore (as, cl, mel, fl); Ernst Reijseger (vc); Han Bennink (d, perc, p)
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 79517 (distr. Rykodisc)

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TS Eliot pointed out that no artist could work outside the tradition because the tradition will stretch to accommodate anything artists do. In the case of the jazz avant-garde, many artists considered ‘outside’ the tradition helped speed up Eliot’s process by moving closer to the tradition themselves.

Ever since the free jazz blood-lettings of the New York loft scene in the late Seventies, when free jazz well and truly lost an audience sufficient to support it, the reconciliation of the avant-garde with the jazz mainstream has produced some of the most interesting, challenging and dangerous music of the last 15 or 16 years.

Initially, this move was called ‘playing in the tradition’, but in the pluralistic Nineties, it has meant playing virtually anything. Quite how all this has worked out is ideally demonstrated by the Clusone Trio, formed in 1988.

This, its fourth album, reveals its pan-traditional, inside/outside approach in improvisation that acknowledges that total freedom can in itself be limiting. Ceaselessly devising ways to ambush the listener with the unexpected, its music is as compulsive as anything to be heard on the jazz scene today.

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Perhaps the mistake of the old guard of free musicians was to take themselves so seriously; in contrast, the Clusone Trio’s dégagé plurality is the perfect antidote to the current climate of conformity. SN