The New York City Jazz Record – Flawless Dust

The New York City Jazz Record parla di Flawless Dust

Best known as a teacher and author of guitar instruction manuals, a busman’s holiday for guitarist Garrison Fewell, who died a year ago this month at 61, involved challenging sessions with players ranging from pianist George Cables and bassist Cecil McBee to saxophonist John Tchicai. Like author/activist W.E.B. Du Bois, who became more radical as he aged, Fewell seemed headed on the same path. Flawless Dust consists of nine knotty and reductionist tracks improvised alongside Italian soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo, whose concepts widen the hairline fissure where jazz and experimental music meet.
Fewell was open to many modes of expression. There are no ‘songs’, per se, among these tracks ranging from barely one minute to almost 14. Mimmo, who previously matched wits with the likes of cellist Daniel Levin and electronics maven Lawrence Casserley, challenges the guitarist by unexpectedly dribbling delicate pastoral timbres or spraying clotted textures all over the shorter pieces. In response, Fewell uses pinched strings or ringing strums to pour figurative cold water on the saxophonist’s excesses while outlining reciprocal harmonies.
The two ascend and descend with mountain- climber-like resolution from the centerpiece “A Floating Caravan”, the lengthiest duet, which organically redefines intense blending, spidery string crawls and angled reed exhalations, giving way to buttressed blowing and echoing strokes, only to climax with a dual unbroken line both soothing and substantial.
A departure from his larger ensemble and more mainstream efforts, Flawless Dust shows that Fewell could hold his own in the most demanding situations and that Mimmo was an enabling collaborator.

Ken Waxman

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