-- Andrew Goodwin

Glenn Spearman Double Trio
The Fields
(Black Saint)

Gregg Bendian Project

"Flow to with from beyond to beyond, full liberty full freedom, explore coming forth."

-- Glenn Spearman

For those not intimately familiar with the music of the Double Trio, or that of drummer Gregg Bendian's new quartet (with bassist Mark Dresser, trumpeter Paul Smoker, and multireedist Vinny Golia), Spearman's poetic description of the art of the improviser may be somewhat misleading. Foremost, "full liberty full freedom" does not mean that all the band members blow loud and hard at the same time sans a compositional framework. These veterans of the jazz and new-music realms achieve freedom through the discipline of eclectic composition that challenges their individual strengths. Each bandmate is called upon to simultaneously maximize and transcend his formidable technical chops -- which range from circular breathing to lyrical navigation of atonal structures -- to act and react synergetically in the moment; to lead and to follow according to the demands of a given tune; and essentially, to selflessly contribute to the collective personality of the group and the song. Yet the self remains as an integral element of the music's exuberance.

In the Double Trio, dynamic personalities converge to create what Spearman calls the "swell and undulation" of the music. A palpable, living, breathing give-and-take informs the dual drumming ritual between the manic William Winant and the sly Donald Robinson; Spearman and ROVA's Larry Ochs push one another's tenor sax blowing to deeper and higher energetic levels; and Lisle Ellis' four strings intermesh with Chris Brown's 88s to produce a gripping, metamorphosing harmonic foundation. The deftly arranged open spaces of Bendian's Counterparts compel the drummer, Dresser, Smoker, and Golia to explore striking interrelationships of mood, color, and rhythm. Although Smoker's and Golia's solo contortions notably turn the tunes inside out, each note is sympathetically hinged to the collective vision as the unfolding sounds flow to, with, and from beyond to beyond.

Glenn Spearman and Vinny Golia play Wednesday, July 17, at Venue Nine, 252 Ninth St., S.F.; call 241-9541.

-- Sam Prestianni

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