Borah Bergman/Anthony Braxton/Peter Brotzmann: Eight By Three

From a logical, conservative point of view, this ad hoc session of three of the most individualistic leaders of free jazz should result in a defeating inferno of blathering chaos. And yes, much of this recording features reedists Braxton and Brotzmann unfurling bolts of arcane energy against Borah’s hyperactive ocean of note clusters and fractured runs. But on surprisingly serene pieces like “La Bas,” where Borah opts for sparse, abstract blues statements over Braxton’s droning contrabass clarinet, while Brotzmann provides a beautiful countermelody, the results approach the sublime. More intense, and nervy thanks to Brotzmann’s abrasive shrieks on alto, Braxton’s wailing alto and looping clarinet, and Borah’s jabbing piano underpinnings, “The Second Whirlpool” succeeds in elevating this all-star meeting above avant garde glam.