Blaise Siwula, Nobu Stowe & Roy Sage: Total Improvisations, Part III


Total Improvisations, Part III


Blaise Siwula (tenor sax), Nobu Stowe (piano), and Ray Sage (drums)


Brooklyn Moments (Konnex KCD 5177)

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Blaise Siwula (tenor sax), Nobu Stowe (piano), Ray Sage (drums).

Spontaneous improvisations by Blaise Siwula, Nobu Stowe & Roy Sage


Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, September 4, 2005


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

Baltimore-based pianist Nobu Stowe teamed with two musicians from New York's free improv scene for this recording. The trio attempts to combine Stowe's concept of "total improvisation," derived from Keith Jarrett's melodic solo piano performances, with freer, more atonal improvisation out of the Cecil Taylor school. The music recalls at various times Taylor/Jimmy Lyons, Jarrett/Dewey Redman, and late-period John Coltrane. Three of the five individual "Parts" are over 10 minutes long, and as such tend to wane creatively in spots, failing occasionally to hold the listener's full attention.

"Part III" is one of the most balanced and successful tracks. Stowe begins solo, then continues with just Sage's sensitive drum commentary. The pianist plays melodically, displaying technique acquired from his early classical training in Japan, with intensely rhapsodic phrasing alongside his assertive left-hand figures. When Stowe introduces an urgent tremolo, Siwula enters with extended legato lines that soon give way to an almost syncopated motif, which the saxophonist proceeds to embellish. Stowe's accompaniment, or, if you will, simultaneous improvisation, becomes more and more percussive, with insistent staccato chord-like structures, as Siwula abandons all tonal content for a dissonant, shrieking interlude, his distorted timbre enhancing his expressiveness, which at this point most resembles the Coltrane of "Expression" and Interstellar Space. As "Part III" draws to its close, Stowe's playing has taken on a kind of demoniac ragtime/slide personality.

Reviewer: Scott Albin


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