Cooper-Moore and Stephen Gauci: Conversations, Vol 1 (577 Records/digital outlets)

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Cooper-Moore and Stephen Gauci: Conversations, Vol 1 (577 Records/digital outlets)
No one would say free jazz is easy and perhaps the case can be made that it should by definition be difficult.

It is here, because with this duo the listener just has to go with it, clinging on as the players follow their instincts into furious flights of saxophone passages and stentorian piano or down blind alleys, creating dialogues or competing monologues, going into quiet spaces to emerge with abrupt energy, enjoying reflective periods . . .

This album on New York's very prolific 577 Records (which has appeared at Elsewhere a few times) is the first installment of a two part release by pianist Cooper-Moore and tenor player Stephen Gauci.

Inevitably given their location there is a sometimes hard urban quality here, but equally elements of the blues come through as on the standout Improvisation Two (perhaps the most approachable of the six improvisations) where a real sense of the conversation aspect of the album title is apparent. It is witty and even swinging.

Elsewhere Gauci's sax squeals in an impressionist account of frustration and claustrophobia, Cooper-Moore's piano can be romantic as in a personal reverie or providing a repetitive pulse in a minimalist manner.

There is yearning with the romanticism here (Improvisation Three), a bite-sized entry level piece with the three minute 30 second Improvisation Four which is like a call from Gauci across the rooftops, and the majestic 12 minute Improvisation Five which opens with some rather beautiful and restrained passages.

And if you were to impose a vague concept on this you could hear these pieces charting a dawn to late evening course as the final, slower bluesy improvisation conjures up inner city New York after the jazz clubs have emptied out, the patrons have gone home and the musicians are winding down together in a darkened room where the chairs are already up on the tables. 

No, no one would say that this is easy, but as we so often have to observe about these 577 Records releases, this is highly rewarding . . . with the caveat that this kind of music is not unfamiliar.

Start with Two and Six. They could really win you over. 

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You can hear this album on Spotify here but it is also available on vinyl from 577 Records in New York through their bandcamp page here.


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