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Zanussi Five: Zanussi Five

In the August 2004 issue of JazzTimes, reviewer Chris Kelsey spoke for many of us who share his special (some would say kinky) musical cravings. Kelsey copped to “a bias for…cojones-out, collectively improvised free jazz,” and acknowledged “after a steady diet of “ching-chinga-ching…a little no-holds-barred creative anarchy can really hit the spot.” For those with an occasional itch that only creative anarchy can scratch, the Zanussi Five stands ready.

The only shred of precedent here is the second half of “Azrah Illusion/Street Woman,” which is from Ornette Coleman’s 1971 album Science Fiction. But “Street Woman” is more a braying, harrowing wail than a song, and the three saxophonists-Kjetil Moster, Erik Nystrom and Eirik Hegdal-even shatter that fragmentary form: instead of “playing” it, they make their horns snort, sputter and whistle it.

Bassist Per Zanussi leads this Norwegian quintet, which must be like herding cats. Still, the wildly idiosyncratic shapes of Zanussi’s compositions do provide approximate rules of engagement. This is indeed creative anarchy, both deadpan and frantic, executed with notable technical facility. Sometimes, like on “Valzer,” this bent band even swings. The flipside to Kelsey’s admission is that, after cacophonous relativity, ching-chinga-ching can feel pretty good.

Originally Published