John Dierker (bass clarinet, alto saxophone), Michael Formanek (bass), Devin Gray (drums) @ Koffee Therapy, Baltimore, MD - August 18, 2007
Free jazz at a coffee house? And the coffee is excellent too? It seems too good to be true. I hope that Koffee Therapy continues down this path as this experience appeals to multiple senses.
Devin Gray began this set with some rolling, kinetic work on the cymbals as Dierker calmly listened and found a tasteful moment to enter on the bass clarinet. And as the full trio sound began to emerge with a tasteful bed of free improvisation textures the remarkable musicianship and ear-focused responsive playing became more apparent.
There was a brief moment when Dierker's circular breathing on the bass clarinet began to take on a strong timbral resemblance to the didgeridoo. But that moment was fleeting and I began to crave hearing that kind of sound territory more fully explored in this trio setting. There were several deeply satisfying passages where the sound of Formanek's arco bass seemed to melt with the sound of the bass clarinet.
I was particularly impressed with Devin Gray as he coaxed a world of sound from his small drum kit. The trio also featured one of his original compositions - a groove heavy meter bender with some wide open sections for individual solos to shine.