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Michael Bisio Quartet: Connections

Michael Bisio’s clear, declarative accompaniment and overall skill as a bassist, coupled with the equally decisive, alternately animated and reflective playing of saxophonists Avram Fefer and Stephen Gauci, are the strong points on this set featuring mostly quartet numbers. The lengthy works “Basic Deconstruction” and “History of a Mystery” are challenging compositions with enough space for taut, swirling solos, but they also feature extensive sections with intense exchanges and rich unison portions. Jay Rosen emerges from the background on the excellent duo rendition of John Coltrane’s “Drum Thing,” displaying impressive rhythmic facilities and some welcome humor in his encounter with Bisio.

The disc’s last two numbers have a decidedly different sensibility, as Bisio and multi-instrumentalist Fefer collaborate on “Sometimes I Feel” and “Zephyr.” Whether working on saxes, clarinet, bass clarinet or flute, Fefer’s work is clean, superbly executed and free of exaggeration or gimmicks. Yet it’s not devoid of soul or swing, even though not particularly in the traditional sense of blues-based improvising. Still, he establishes a great rapport with Bisio, and their playing during the final portions of “Zephyr” proves especially attractive and offers a nice conclusion to an enjoyable and well-played date.

Originally Published