Jacquemyn / Morgan / Sanders, Sign of the Raven

(Üton CD 15 CD)

Sign of the Raven works rather better. To begin with, there's genuine interplay between the musicians, each of whom contributes something valuable to the music. For those of you who have yet to hear him play, Jeffrey Morgan's fluttering, stuttery alto saxophone can sound rather like Anthony Braxton circa 1974. He's not quite ready to don the cardigan and clasp to his chest the ceremonial pipe and chessboard of the master, and his musical stratagems don't have Braxton's weird but surprisingly workable (and compelling) mixture of inscrutable logic and scalding passion, but he acquits himself well on Sign Of The Raven, a session that zigzags along the borderline between free improvisation and free jazz.

Peter Jacquemyn is a player new to me, and I'd like to hear more of his work. He's a double bassist, especially good with the bow, and his slashing phrases and dense rhythmic flurries on the lengthy (37-minute) 'Mojo Colorado' are a treat. During the piece's opening minutes, Mark Sanders makes good use of snatched sounds - striking cymbals and small bells and stilling them before the attack of the note has reached its peak. It's a technique that can easily mislead you into thinking these are percussion samples played backwards. Snatching is not unique to Sanders, but he's the player who does it best. The musicians briefly run out of steam near the end of 'Mojo Colorado', but manage to finish the piece in fine style, and the two briefer excursions that follow are well-paced and interesting. Sign Of The Raven was recorded at a 1998 concert in Cologne. The sound quality is more than adequate, and the music has transferred well to CD.

Brian Marley
Rubberneck, 2001