Greg Goodman/Henry Kaiser/Lukas Ligeti - "Heavy Meta"
(Ecstatic Yod 2002, e#76/fypc22)
From Aural Innovations #22 (January 2003)
Now here's a tasty trio. Henry Kaiser is, of course, one of the kings of free-improv guitar, having explored numerous avant-garde rock stylings over the years. Drummer Lukas Ligeti I know from the excellent Austrian band, Kombinat M, who released a CD on Cuneiform several years ago. And pianist Greg Goodman is new to my ears but has apparently been around for quite some years.
The disc opens with the 14 minute "Logical Types" which showcases Goodman's passionate and intense jazz piano. Ligeti provides the rhythmic base while standing out as a voice of his own. And I wouldn't know Kaiser was playing bass on this track if I hadn't noticed it on the CD credits. He plays the instrument like a guitar in a frenetic off-kilter Beefheartian style. "Iron King" is similar but more rock oriented and features Kaiser on the bass again.
While "Logical Types" has a more traditional jazz feel (though still on the fringe), the nearly 23 minute all acoustic "War & Piece" delves into more free-improv avant-garde territory, being adventurous yet highly emotional and well within the realm of accessibility. The music evolves through numerous segments, many of which are quiet and sparse, yet deceptively busy. But there are also highly charged sections where each member of the trio throws off all sense of restraint and unleash their most unbridled musical passions. Goodman is a monster on the piano, both in execution and expression. Kaiser assaults the acoustic guitar with loving frenzy. And Ligeti's percussion statements transcend mere rhythm. There are some seriously hot moments here, though they make the less than exciting portions all the more glaring. Overall, I was really impressed with this piece though I felt the musicians sometimes had trouble transitioning smoothly between segments, leaving me with the feeling that the music would have been stronger as two or three separate tracks.
Rounding out the set is "Tasurim" which is a duo of electric guitar and drums. Kaiser rips it up on his guitar in a rock style that, given the CD cover artwork, is what I assumed the music would be like prior to listening. "Riddled" sees the trio getting into more abstract free-improv territory, though it's fairly standard stuff for the genre. Goodman does the piano strings manipulation thing with interesting results. "The Green Child" is one of the albums more subdued pieces. It communicates a quiet passion and has some interesting ideas, but it didn't really keep me excited throughout its 11 minute length. Finally, "Blind Site" is the most whimsical and fun track of the set. It opens with a play on the "Three Blind Mice" rhyme, and from there it travels through a series of quirky passages that bring to mind a childrens jazz workshop. Nice.
In summary, an excellent free-improvisational jazz set (with some rock) by a trio of outstanding musicians. Yes, it has it's weak moments but the albums strengths are sufficient to give this a hearty thumbs up. Note that the music was recorded in 1996 though not released until this past year. Thanks to the folks at Ecstatic Yod for making the fruits of this trio's efforts available.
For more information you can visit the Ecstatic Yod web site at: http://www.yod.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Ecstatic Yod Collective; 221 Pine St #4B1; Florence, MA 01062.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz