George Schuller, composer, drums, shakers, whistles and bells; Tim Berne, alto sax; Tony Malaby, tenor sax; Ed Schuller, bass
Sometimes the raw, spontaneous, interpretive abilities of an all-star cast of improvisers mixes just right with the compositions at hand to create an unforgettable night of music. Hellbent captures just such a night on November 13th, 2000, when George Schuller’s group The Schulldogs rolled into Albuquerque, New Mexico for a show at The Outpost. That night Tim Berne, Tony Malaby and Ed Schuller joined the group’s leader in stretching, pulling, and dramatically exploring his compositions with a creative urgency seldom captured on the live recording format. Whereas the group’s 1999 studio debut Tenor Tantrums (New World) relied heavily on the original compositions, this release documents the live deconstruction and reinvention of the original material and the true breadth of this group’s creative abilities and Schuller’s range as a composer.
"Think: David Murray, the World Saxophone Quartet, and, later, Dave Holland’s small groups, with their tricky horn counterpoint over shifting, roiling grooves. Texture, tempo, meter, and melodies are always shifting, so that each of the six pieces on this 71-minute CD sustains interest for its duration. Schuller knows how to use composition to spur improvisation, and as a way to organize free blowing so that it never sounds arbitrary."—Boston Phoenix
"...an intuitive, spontaneous romp. Fun to play and fun to listen."—All About Jazz
"The ideas are fresh (and many of the notes, "bent"), the energy contagious, and many of the more subtle exchanges between the drummer and his three collaborators (particularly with bassist Ed Schuller) simply beautiful."—NewMusicBox