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Open Loose: Verbs of Will

Still, to hear the difference between promise and fully realized innovation in horn-bass-drums trios, one needs to go no farther than Verbs Of Will (Radio Legs), the latest by Mark Helias’ Open Loose. With a few years of touring under their belts, the bassist’s trio with tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby and drummer Tom Rainey has refined their namesake interplay to the point where the extemporaneous is often indistinguishable from the arranged, and notions of lead and support roles are airbrushed from the soundscape. The wit and sardonic clarity that have been Helias’ compositional trademarks also benefit from the trio’s slightly deadpan delivery. This is not to suggest that Open Loose can’t muster palpable heat: it does repeatedly throughout this studio recording, made following a 17-day Western tour, a virtual epic journey by today’s standards. The difference is a precision and economy of expression that few groups champion as well as Open Loose.

Originally Published