Sunday, October 28, 2007

Trio Trio Duo in the Red

Jeff Arnal/Tom Boram/Dan Dechellis/John Dierker/Aaron Dugan/Gary Hassay/Toshi Makihara @ The Red Room, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, October 27, 2007

set one
Dan Dechellis: piano
Gary Hassay: alto saxophone
Toshi Makihara: drums, percussion

set two
Jeff Arnal: drums, percussion
John Dierker: tenor saxophone
Aaron Dugan: guitar

set three
Tom Boram: electronics, amplified helium balloon, tap dancing, guitar
Toshi Makihara: drums, percussion

The elements greeted Dan Dechellis during the first set as the roof of the Red Room sprang a leak just above the intense, improvising pianist and placed him within his own indoor weather system. Undeterred, Dechellis incorporated rhythmic towel swipes along the keyboard as he dried - and simultaneously moved - his instrument in mid-performance. His harmonic language and deft use of widely varied dynamic attacks were a fresh revelation to these ears. Combined in a strongly reactive trio with the playful kinetic energy of drummer Toshi Makahara and the surging tidal waves of alto saxophonist Gary Hassay this set was a welcome blast of creative force.

One can hear John Dierker's ears as he plays. His free improvisational sensibilities continue to impress me with each shifting performance context. This time he sat in with the beautiful chemistry of New Yorkers Jeff Arnal and Aaron Dugan. This trio would playfully drain the tone right out of their instruments over time as Dierker reduced his sound to air exhales through the tenor saxophone against Arnal's soft scrapings along the rims of his drums with metal cans and Dugan's extremely processed (and extended technique heavy) sound. There was a quiet moment with Arnal playing on metal pots and gongs arranged on the floor that was striking. And this set left me with an intense curiosity to hear more of Aaron Dugan's guitar playing.

The final set shifted toward the playful energy and antics of Boran and Makihara. Tom Boran spun out a steady stream of inventive and creative sounds from his unique rig while Toshi Makihara adeptly responded to each curve thrown his way. While much of the sounding energy was enjoyable, the dialogue between performers felt a little one-sided at times. But this was quickly forgotten each time the overall sound would swell into something richly textured.

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