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Michael Bates/Samuel Blaser Quintet: One From None

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Saxophonist Michael Blake’s brief overtone wail at the onset of the opening title track here recalls Coltrane’s tension-building intro to “Leo” on Live in Japan. Blake then segues into a blues-tinged unaccompanied improvisation before the rest of the quintet joins in; the linear structure Blake had been hinting at now dissolves into a miasma of swirling shapes and textures, out of which a new form (the primary theme) finally emerges, only to be cast into uncertainty again by Blake, trombonist Blaser and keyboardist Russ Lossing (here on Rhodes), who stretch, contort and compress melody, timbre, time and rhythm as bassist Bates and drummer Jeff Davis hazily outline the piece’s contours. The overall effect is alluring yet unsettling-a sense that new beauty is here, spiked with danger; the center cannot hold. That mood of anticipation laced with dread (or at least uncertainty) permeates most of this set.

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