Gustavo Aguilar is a percussion whiz I've seen here and there over the last few years, and this Collective recording also features the estimable Robert Reigle on tenor: a few years back he did an eye-popping improvisation on a Scelsi solo piece series for saxophone. Not easy since Scelsi usually wrote using almost no chords. Anyway, there is a lot of free playing here, most of it pretty impressive, but something doesn't allow the whole to hang together. Not exactly certain why; at one point in "N-6" Eric Crystal's melodica spins out a dour arpeggio and it somehow completes the picture. Humor plays a part as well: "Different Paths, Same Destination" works off a tone parallel to, of all things, the chestnut "My Old Flame." You can't make this stuff up. Todd Sickafoose's bass slips in and out of the proceedings at will, making the music herein float alluringly, and Aguilar duets well within the idiomatic structures with fellow perc man Chris Garcia, but this is one of those situations in which a good group does not always hammer the nail most of the way in. The moral of this story? Not everyone's the Claudia Quintet or the Ornette Coleman FREE JAZZ foursome? No, more like when a group tries to find that sweet spot that all of them can equally access it's just not always accessible.
Hope the Collective tries again real soon, though. There's heavy talent here.
by Kenneth Egbert
Copyright Jazz Now, April 2004 issue, all rights reserved
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