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Dewey Redman/Cecil Taylor/Elvin Jones: Momentum Space

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Reports of the death of freedom in jazz have been greatly exaggerated. Free jazz isn’t dead. It’s only living under assumed new names, existing in another time-space continuum from the one that the usual jazz channels support and disseminate. The argument could be made that improvisational music has more of an imperative role than ever, at a time when structural complacency and fashionable retro stances in jazz have threatened the rebel margins of the music.

Momentum Space is a kind of all-star summit meeting of musicians who have played critical roles in past jazz legacies, but in different orbits-Elvin with Coltrane, Redman with Ornette Coleman and later Keith Jarrett, and Cecil… well, with Cecil. The roles are freely reversed and interpolated from expectations. Taylor’s feisty assaults retain their legendary connection to dancing and drumming, sometimes more percussive in nature than Jones’ playing, which takes on a more coloristic character. Apart from his painterly solo drum piece, “Bekei,” Jones generally plays things closest to the swing vest, while Redman is a graceful anarchist and poet, whose lines of communication in the free improvisation mode follows an Ornette-ish sinuousness of line that seems tied to the folk music as much as to the cerebral exhortations of some in the “free” world. Redman’s “Spoonin’,” sans piano, is a rubber-lined folk-bop tune, while Taylor veers from the fragile balladic lyricism of “Life As” to the cathartic intensity of “It.” Density and scale vary among the session’s seven tracks in a precisely hour-long package, from the 20-minute exegesis of “Is” to the 49-second exhalation by Redman, closing the album like an abstract amen cadence.

Between the contributions and conversations of the three, music of a volatile beauty is constructed and destroyed, moment by moment. It swings, madly, on its own terms.