Martin/Lozano/Lewis/Wiens/Duncan At Canterbury

Martin/Lozano/Lewis/Wiens/Duncan At Canterbury
7
Free-improvisation is like the process of evolution: some things take, while others are briefly alive and interesting, but fade out. Even with virtuoso improvisers like those assembled by drummer/producer Jean Martin, the process of creating music with no pre-arranged themes/rhythms/anything is no sure thing. But when Wiens' mbira establishes an intriguing path and trumpeter Jim Lewis sets off down it on "Corollary," it's all good — melodically direct, rhythmically substantial. "Sojourn," with Wiens on prepared guitar, is more ethereal, as saxophonist Frank Lozano states an oblique "call" that evaporates. "Invocation" is even more inexplicable, with Christine Duncan hauntingly singing in her own mysterious language; it's an intense, edge-of-your-chair listening experience and album highlight. One piece, "Throwing Light," has moments of focus with intermittent incoherence as players cast about for a new idea to explore. As risky as free-improv can be, one thing with Martin is never dicey: the production values. Every minute of At Canterbury sounds superb. (Barnyard)