Some 13 years after this trio's double-length Never Too Late But Always Too Early, we get a reprise with a twist. There are actually two volumes titled Song Sentimentale, culled from a three-night stand in January 2015. The other half is an LP that offers completely different material.
Opener "Shake-A-Tear," at a shade under 12 minutes, is the shortest piece here. It commences with an ugly clarinet bleat from Peter Brötzmann that introduces William Parker's cascading bass playing and Hamid Drake's fluid, kinetic movement on all the physical parts of his drum set. The fiery clarinet solo allows for the group to engage in intense yet intimate interplay before Parker delivers a stunning arco bass solo. When Brötzmann re-enters, it's with his tenor, tentatively at first, but Drake's clacking sticks and tom-tom rolls facilitate his full-on participation in trying to blow the guts out of the horn. In the first couple of minutes of "Stone Death," the saxophonist offers a nearly songlike homage to Albert Ayler. Parker's interpolation bridges the exchange between Brötzmann and Drake's snare attack. The bassist takes another beautiful arco solo before more fiery trio interplay. The drummer alters the dynamics, bringing it way down as Brötzmann employs his more recently evident loverman blues phrasing -- alternating with squawks and shrieks. The tempo holds as a nearly swinging post-bop blues emerges. The saxophonist, however, always impatient, is off and running for a time, then returns to form in conclusion. Drake introduces the 25-minute "Dwellers in a Dead Land" by using his fingers and hands on a frame drum and vocal chanting. Parker joins him, first by slapping a guembri's strings then offering a circular five-note pattern. After four minutes, when Brötzmann joins them on taragato, it's with a roar and almost instantly transforms into its own reed chant based on North African modalism. The trio's repetition is hypnotic, slightly expanded with each turnaround; it gains in force before gradually downshifting. This incantation goes on for 11 minutes before Brötzmann quietly slips out. Parker and Drake play in close proximity; their circular dialogue becomes a shared heartbeat. Brötzmann returns on tenor, thrashing and roiling. Drake moves to his kit. Parker grabs a shenai and both reeds go full-on improv for a long while as the drummer employs rim shots, rolls, fills, and bottom-heavy tom-tom thudding and urging them on. Eventually, the saxophonist becomes totally unhinged, a blur of pure fury as Parker responds with short phrases almost like points of argument that eventually ground him. All of a sudden, Drake shapeshifts the rhythm into a skittering dance, and Brötzmann finds a nearly lithe melody on his horn. Parker, on shakuhachi flute, gently whispers the whole proceeding to a close. As evidenced by this half of Song Sentimentale, the passage of time has done nothing to diminish this collective's facility for emotionally and resonant poetic language. Amazing. This is a must for fans of all three players. ~ Thom Jurek
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