Judging drummer Mark Burdon's Trialogue by its cover-a block print of late ninteenth century cyclists rolling along a country lane-you might think you're in for some laid-back, even genteel sounds. The opener, "Jacko," will blow that thought out of your head.
Trialogue is, as the title suggests, a trio outing-Burdon on drums, Rich Halley blowing saxophone, and Josh Dahlager manning the bass. "Jacko" opens with a siesmic bass line from Josh Dahlager that has more throb and power and menace than the Rolling Stones' fuzz riff on "Satisfaction." Then Halley growls in...
I know Rich Halley comes from his three CDs on Louie Records: Coyotes in the City, Objects (this writer's pick for 2002 jazz album of the year); and this year's The Blue Rims (another sure top ten pick), with trumpeter Bobby Bradford of Ornette Coleman's Science Fiction Sessions fame. No saxophonist out there is playing with more fire, muscle, sheer guts, or wild abandon than Halley. But as out there as he can get, there's always a boppish discipline to his sound, a thread of containment; and that's what he brings to Trialogue.
"Jacko" opens with muscle, Dahlager's red beef bass lines leading into the brawn of Halley's sax. Behind them, Burdon shuffles in a fluid and textural mode; and his solo floats, an ethereal interlude that explores an expansive percussion arsenal until Dahlager throbs in again, leading Halley back into the deep, ominous groove.
Halley alternates between soprano and tenor saxes throughout, sounding especially sharp on the smaller horn on "Marimbondo," a tune with an early Impulse! Coltrane feel. "Cath," with Halley back on tenor, is an introspective ballad that sounds like after hours in a Parisian jazz club; and "Trialogue" meanders a bit until the trio coalesces and lights a sizzling fire, Halley roaring.
One of the finest free jazz (or avant-garde, or whatever you want to call it) discs of the year.
Dan McClenaghan--All About Jazz