Various Freedom of the City 2003: Small Groups

The success of any good record documenting a live event lies in the mystery of putting the message across successfully to the listeners. What is it that the people listening to a given record have missed during the live event, when a given record was put to tape? Freedom of the City is a festival organised in London over the last few years. One of its main goals is to present combinations of players in contexts in which they have not played before. This two-disc set documents some of the small groups that played and was especially commissioned to perform during the 2003 edition of the festival. Though I have nothing against the smaller duo groupings, it’s the larger smaller groupings that really are the cream of the crop here. The trio of harpist Rhodri Davies, cellist Mark Wastell and bassist Simon H. Fell create an interesting tension. At the same time the quartet Lunge come out sounding better than ever. Gail Brand is especially outstanding as she nominally uses her trombone to colour the palette, while the duo of Pat Thomas and Phil Durrant battle each other for electronic supremacy. Within this context, Lunge comes out the real winners. Though certain groupings may not sound all that convincing, overall this compilation serves as a strong audio document on what occurred one foggy May day in London back in 2003. (Emanem)