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Paul Flaherty and Marc Edwards: Kaivalya Volume 1

“Free music players are born, not made,” writes saxophonist Paul Flaherty in the liner notes to Kaivalya Volume 1. “Why else would someone travel this road, if they didn’t have to?” Since first heeding improvisation’s call in the 1970s, Flaherty has hurtled down the free-jazz highway without looking back. In the ’90s, his prolific partnership with drummer Randall Colbourne generated 16 scorching records, but since 2001 Flaherty has played with many stellar musicians in a variety of lineups. These four albums continue his zig-zagging path, with a duo, trio, quartet and quintet, each a compelling version of his impulsive artistry.

Though Flaherty is best known for high-octane improvising, his playing also uses healthy doses of restraint, reflection, and sonic range. Kaivalya, his first encounter with self-described “power drummer” Edwards, could have been a tireless onslaught, but much of the album is surprisingly melodic. Flaherty’s sinuous tenor pours over Edwards’ pulse on “Amrita,” while on “Janagama” he slowly scales the drummer’s mountainous rhythms before erupting into growls. There are some noisy blowouts here, but the fluidity of Flaherty and Edwards’ interplay is Kaivalya’s most persuasive trait.

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