Archer says he has wanted to make a trio recording for many years but could not decide who to recruit for it until he heard Bardon’s work on The Gift Of Silence (also issued on Discus, Archer’s own label.) With the trio once formed he wanted the saxophone “to inhabit the music from within, as opposed to riding upfront in the role of soloist hero”.
However, he said he chose the tenor as the main horn to “contrast between jazzier horn lines versus the more abstract playing from the other instruments”. This is particularly relevant to the long, episodically varied and sometimes frenzied title track and to some passages in the absorbing Improvisation In Traditional Form, although even on these the trio operates as a balanced and integrated unit very effectively.
Walt Blues is pleasingly funky and slinky, with Bardon providing a strong and solid core using both arco and pizzicato techniques. Chime Scene rings in (sorry) a contrasting approach, freer and more abstract, ranging from hushed passages threaded through with delicate cymbal and gong textures to jagged all-in ruckuses.
Most tracks are launched from simple notated scores, but Improvisation seems to be just that whilst Evabje is derived from Shaw’s graphic score, which is reproduced inside the tri-fold sleeve. I admit I didn’t make much of a connection between that and the music and I’d have interpreted it very differently, but then it’s not my band and not my recording.
Like all the best improvised music (or any music for that matter) this album delivers more from repeated hearings, which it merits. Discus, founded by Mick Beck and Archer, has been going for 28 years and still maintains a steady stream of releases. It is heartening that there are still enterprises such as this that continue to give opportunities for adventurous left-field musicians to record and for fans to hear music such as this.
Rotten Star; Evabje; See You Soon Or See You Sometime; Walt Blues; Chime Scene; Improvisation In Traditional Form (56.47)
Archer (sps, slo, ts); Michael Bardon (b, clo); Walt Shaw (d, pc). Sheffield, 26 August 2021.