Personnel: Peter Epstein (alto saxophone); Andrew Barbera (guitar); Brian Walsh (bass clarinet); Gavin Templeton (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Matt Mayhall (drums).
Audio Mixer: Sam Minaie.
Recording information: TV Tray Studio, Los Angeles, CA (06/14/2008).
Creators: Steve Hillenburg; Burt Payne 3.
Idee Fixe's method to music creation is a particularly improvised route. Rather than using composed sets, they improvise the backbone of jazz collectively. However, they go further -- they had no prior discussions, no (or rare) starting points from which to build. They simply start exploring ideas together while recording, leading to a particularly free format of jazz. The pieces on Abstract Realism tend to start out sparse, with a tone or two slowly coming out of the woodwork and building as the group carefully explores the musical space, not unlike the Hindustani alap period of a raga. They toot and tweet their instruments to explore timbres in the realm of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, but rarely return to much of a recognizable form. This is free jazz at its freest, not so much a showcase for the instrumentalists' respective skills as it is a documentation of a sonic modern art project. Interesting in its own right, the album also occasionally surprises with bursts of enjoyable music. ~ Adam Greenberg