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June 2006

Krystall Klear and the Buells
This Way Is West
K2B2 Records

Krystall Klear and the Buells is the eponym tenor saxophonist Marty Krystall and bassist Buell Neidlinger gave their ’70s and ’80s collaboration, a partnership that produced the two LPs reissued here: Ready for the ’90s and Our Night Together. I remember those LPs being well received back then by critics paying attention. I also remember Krystall and Neidlinger not getting as much ink as some of the more high-profile avant-gardists. Certainly their music wasn’t to blame. Their spiky, swing-and-groove-based free jazz was as good as anything then being done.

An early cohort of Cecil Taylor, the conceptually pliable Neidlinger is arguably the finest bassist ever employed by the pianist. Krystall is a fluent, inventive saxophonist with a huge tone and regulated sense of aggression. The leaders are joined on the CD’s first half by the peerless drummer Billy Higgins, trumpeter Warren Gale and—on one track—by Taylor himself. The second half features a pre-Weather Report Peter Erskine on drums and Hammond organist Jerry Peters. The latter group is a bit funkier, but frankly, one’s as good as the other. It’s all terrific, as fresh today as it was 20-odd years ago.

Originally published in June 2006
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