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Elliott Sharp: Dialectrical

John Sharpe By

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Dialectrical constitutes the third entry in the discography of Elliott Sharp's most jazz-focused outfit, following on from the eponymous debut Aggregat (Clean Feed, 2012), and subsequent Quintet (Clean Feed, 2013). Although perhaps best known for his idiosyncratic guitar work, Sharp here demonstrates his chops as an adept reedman, with a talented NYC crew on board. Special mention must go to grizzled drummer Barry Altschul replacing Ches Smith who helmed the engine room on the previous two outings. Other constants are bassist Brad Jones and trombonist Terry L. Greene II, this time out supplemented by cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum.

Sharp bases his polyrhythmic free jazz-tinged pieces around spiky phrases rather than flowing melodies. Altschul displays his distinctive clip clop textures and richly-grained flow, and proves exactly the right person for the punchy themes. In that he's abetted by Jones' loose and limber yet sturdy bass, and the pair's acumen ensures rhythmic diversity. Another of the set's main selling points is the garrulous horn interplay, exemplified by the suitably bouncy "Oh See (For Ornette Coleman)" and the insistent "Firn Away" which bursts into polyphony and tangential features. Bynum in particular is typically expressive and spry using a panoply of mutes to extend his palette, a trait he shares with the similarly emotive Greene.

However Sharp enjoys the lion's share of the solo space on his arsenal of reeds among which his full-bodied darkly-hued bass clarinet and husky tenor saxophone stand out. But he's no slouch on soprano either as he confirms when the jerky throbbing "Off-Objekt" opens up for a soaring excursion with interjections from cornet and trombone. Greene begins "We Control The Horizontal" with a growling wah-wahed intro, before giving way to first Sharp's gurgling, beseeching bass clarinet and later Bynum's high pitched cornet shenanigans, while the pithy "Ununoctium" frames an exciting passage of explosive tenor overblowing. Variation comes from the lilting "BBB" and the brooding, vaguely oriental sounding "Tile The Plane" which completes a strong and rounded program.

Track Listing: Off-Objekt; We Control The Horizontal; Ununoctium; BBB; Oh See (For Ornette Coleman); Firn Away; Tile The Plane.

Personnel: Barry Altschul: drums and percussion; Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet; Terry L. Greene II: trombone; Brad Jones: bass: Elliott Sharp: soprano and tenor saxophones, Bb and bass clarinets.

Title: Dialectrical | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


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