Exit Records #1014
Barry Wedgle-composer & guitar
George Garzone-tenor saxophone
Darkness Publishing BMI 1 Love Life 7:23
2 The Dog Catcher 9:41
3 Paradise 18:30
4 Dumpling 7:32
5 Elegentidous 11:35
6 America the Brittle 7:35
Recorded at Sound on Sound Studios
Veteran Barry Wedgle puts his own twist on the guitar combo session format by concentrating on acoustic rather than electric guitar. The acoustic gives his sound a human urgency that's a welcome contrast to the glibness of so many mainstream electric guitarists. He matches this relative novelty with atmospheric compositions that eschew easy gestures and stock chords for more amorphous structures that invite extended exploration. And he's recruited an intrepid group of musical explorers―tenor saxophonist George Garzone, bassist Santi Debriano, and drummer Billy Hart, assisted by percussionist Daniel Moreno on two tracks―to join him in this venture. Wedgle introduces the band with his most accessible offering, the tender "Love Life". His solo though is a fiery affair, full of rapid runs as if to demonstrate that he sacrifices nothing in intensity by employing an acoustic instrument. Coming after him Garzone evokes the opening mood, blowing a relaxed solo that segues back into the theme.
Garzone proves an apt foil for Wedgle. Even on pieces with anxious undertones, such as the closer "America the Brittle" or "Dog Catcher", his blowing has a floating quality. While informed by Coltrane―he ends his "America" solo with a quote from A Love Supreme―he never resorts to pat modal clichés. He's always interacting with the band, especially Hart's explosive drumming. In programming the session, Wedgle alternates ballads―including thelong, rambling title tune―with more aggressive numbers. "Elegentidous", like the opener colored by Moreno's shekere, has the yearning quality of a song by Coltrane in his high priest role. It evolves as a five-way conversation with Hart punctuating Wedgle and
Garzone's restless counterpoint with rolling bursts from his snare
drum. "Dumpling" also showcases Hart, as he explodes underneath the punchy head, then grounds Garzone and Wedgle's two-way blowing with a steady quarter-note drone on his ride cymbal while implying an out-of-kilter funk beat. "America" opens with more conversation, though the tone is more
agitated. That gives way to an up-tempo contemporary swinger with solos all around. Wedgle, again as he does throughout, punctuates the structure of his improvisation with slashing chords. Fittingly, given how much his drums add to the session, Hart gets the final word in the solo segment. Having the drummer go last is not unusual, but doing the expected is what's rare in Wedgle's Paradise.
by David Dupont