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Clusone 3: An Hour With…

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Clusone 3-the hyper-malleable Dutch trio of drummer Han Bennink, cellist Ernst Reijseger and reedist Michael Moore-disbanded not long after giving the March, 1998, concert that fills this 62-minute hour because, as John Corbett’s liner notes state, it had run “its natural course.” Sure enough, most of the tunes the trio performed, primarily in medley form, here-a mixture of standards, hidden jazz gems, wiggy originals and would-be Dutch classics-have also turned-up on the group’s previous albums. But if the group’s repertoire had grown predictable, its spirited playing hadn’t.

The greatest strength of Clusone 3 was its almost telepathic intuitiveness: the group could reach blindly into its hefty songbook-filled with everything from Misha Mengelberg’s great “Rollo II” to Jobim’s breezy “O Pato” to “I Never Had a Chance”-and pluck bits and pieces from those tunes, stringing them together in delightful seat-of-the-pants fragments that never sounded disjointed. These guys thrived the most on the fly: rapidly leaping from tune to tune, casually shifting tempos, unraveling grooves and rebuilding them just as quickly. Like its related counterpart, the ICP Orchestra, Clusone 3 frequently epitomized what jazz was all about: cheeky, rhythmically dynamic improvisation that pulled from countless sources and approaches. They’ll be missed.