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Rosenberg / Baker / Hatwich / Daisy - New Folk, New Blues

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Artist: Rosenberg / Baker / Hatwich / Daisy

Album: New Folk, New Blues

Label: 482 Music

Review date: Aug. 17, 2005

The name of this album is a play on a‘60s vintage Chicago blues compilation, and while this music probably won’t speak to the people the way, say, Buddy Guy or Magic Sam would, there’s no denying that it’s people music.

By that, I mean that it’s very much an expression of the personalities that mixed to make it. Foremost in this cast of characters is Scott Rosenberg, a peripatetic tenor and baritone saxophone player who once studied under Anthony Braxton. From the first second, Rosenberg’s presence is inescapable; his snorting tone and convoluted, endless figures border upon the grotesque. Drummer Tim Daisy is his foil, busy yet non-confrontational; his ceaseless activity gives shape and texture to Rosenberg’s stark blueprints. Bassist Anton Hatwich refuses to be intimidated, but he also makes no attempt to outplay anyone here. Sticking close to the drummer, he shows a commitment to his instrument’s traditional role that’s rare in free jazz. Early in the twenty minute span of "Knives, Swords, Flags," he invites Daisy to swing with his walking lines, and later on in the same piece he follows Daisy into a hushed, no-tempo zone where stark plucking and gentle mallet strokes center the mind.

Jim Baker plays a hand full of wild cards; he zaps the opening “Sweating Vertebrae Superior Cathedrals” with a ray-gun synth assault, uses a prepared piano to introduce a toy-like fragility into the dynamic shifts of "Knives, Swords, Flags," and punctures a vigorous Daisy-Rosenberg exchange on “Laugh Your Troubles Away” with thin, retiring electronic jabs. This completely improvised performance is a bit like watching a fencer, a wrestler, a judo master, and a kung fu adept put on a tournament in real time. Put another way, while it’s a pleasure to behold improvisers with similar temperaments finding a balance, it’s a very different experience – less predictable in action, much less tidy to behold, but sometimes more fulfilling – to witness players with drastically different approaches and energy levels doing it. New Folk, New Blues is one such experience.

By Bill Meyer

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