Volume 4 Number 2
CD Review
copyright © Alan Wilkinson

Pair A' Dice
Snake Eyes

Pair A' Dice (what a great name) is the title Cologne based American alto saxophonist Jeffrey Morgan and midiotics player Joker Nies give to their duo. I understand that a group featuring Morgan was once refused an Improvised Music Touring award because their cassette release was called "Eight Classic Jazz Originals You Can Play." The irony was obviously lost on the ACE employee, as I don't think I've ever heard less of a "jazz" saxophonist in my life - in fact Morgan's refusal to approach the conventional is his great strength. His style is full of staccato stabs, flutter tonguing, giant leaps, and piercing forays into the upper register - the stock in trade of any "free" saxophonist perhaps, but none of it sounds much like anybody else and a few devices are distinctly unique. If anything he's somewhere near Zorn at his most abstract and best. After years of touting his home-made cassettes of greatly varying quality around gigs Morgan has finally made it onto CD and sounds great. The saxophone sound is hard and in yer face, and clear as a bell. This contrasts beautifully with Joker's midiotics. What are midiotics? you may well ask. I haven't a clue, apart from that they're something to do with a computer and probably linked to the world of MIDI. The sound palette is enormous, from the deep ornament-shaking resonances on the opening "Luv Ate Lie," to very delicate bell- and cymbal-like sounds. In fact there's quite a lot of percussive sounds used, but never rhythmically and on "Bex Dry Ram" he sounds very like Hans Reichel's daxophone. The midiotics are spread in a sumptuous fashion across the stereo and with their jaunty interplay act as a fitting foil to the brittle saxophone.

Most of the tracks are kept short and sweet, between two-and-a-half and five minutes, but I have to say that my favorites are "Jarus Fafs" at eleven minutes and "Mis Kitha" at eight, where the music is given that bit longer to develop. Displaying plenty of humor and inventiveness, this is a fine example of the current state of improvisation.