Royce Campbell : Elegy to a Friend

Guitarist Campbell and his Indiana-based group go for a downtown New York feel in this early 1990s recording, getting loose with some adventurous original material. The music ranges from haunting ballads to free-jazz skittering, serving as a showcase of sorts for the late drummer Stan Gage, who envelops the quartet in a churning rhythmic blanket. Campbell’s own playing shows quiet concentration, and feels relaxed even at fast tempos. Saxophonist Terrence Cook proves versatile, holding the center with aggressive honking or wistful lyricism, and bassist Ratzo Harris sounds positively inspired, straining at the leash as he bends notes and twists phrases.