Ragged Jack

COMPOSERS: Cuong Vu,Jamie Saft
LABELS: Avant
ALBUM TITLE: Saft/Vu
PERFORMER: Jamie Saft (p); Cuong Vu (t); Andrew D’Angelo (as, b-cl); Jim Black (d)
CATALOGUE NO: AVAN 068

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Although they dislike the tag, the participants in this recording could all reasonably be referred to as New York ‘downtown’ musicians, Saft, Vu and D’Angelo being members of drummer Bobby Previte’s latest Weather Clear, Track Fast band, and Black being prominent in the outfits of saxophonist Tim Berne and trumpeter Dave Douglas.

Like the other musicians often consigned to the same category, whose doyen is John Zorn, they produce rich, restlessly genre-challenging work, and this fierce but poised and thoughtful set occupies the border area between structure and abstraction so satisfyingly explored in the UK by Dreamtime and in the US by the likes of pianist Myra Melford.

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Thus an insistently chattering, hard-driving theme will give rise to improvisation, or an abstract introduction will slowly coalesce into a vigorous – occasionally downright funky – rhythm. But whatever their approach, the quartet’s verve and adventurousness make this a fine debut. CP