Futterman, Parker, Fowler & Hirsh: The Deep

Convocation of free-jazz veterans that hints - possibly inadvertently - at form and organisation, but is mostly full-on improvisation


The Deep is a continuous work which makes extreme demands upon the listener’s powers of concentration given its freely improvised nature. For those who hold great store by such statistics, it actually runs for over 10 minutes longer than Coltrane’s controversial Ascension, which for many became a listening experience too far.

Chad Fowler, who plays stritch (a straight alto saxophone) throughout, owns Mahakala Music, the label upon which this CD appears and takes the instrument way beyond the area Roland Kirk operated in. The other musicians have similar backgrounds at the outer edges of the music; the veteran pianist Futterman combined in 2021 with drummer Hirsh for a very personal project.

Bass player William Parker was, of course, a member of Cecil Taylor’s group back in the 1980s. He has spent the majority of his musical career in the company of free-jazz heavyweights, including Peter Brötzmann and Anthony Braxton.

So we are presented with four musicians, all devoted to the cause, who conjour up a maelstrom of sound punctuated by moments of welcome languor where there is even a suggestion that Hirsh reverts to playing time, although this could have been a momentary lapse given the free-wheeling atmosphere he helps to create.

Futterman is all over his instrument, in a manner CT would have approved of and if there is a catalyst holding together the seemingly separate strands then it is probably him – if indeed such performances should have such an individual concept.

Once again, a release aimed at the few and the newly curious.

The Deep (51.56)
Joel Futterman (p); William Parker (b); Chad Fowler (stritch); Steve Hirsh (d). Virginia, 6 January 2022.
Mahakala MAHA-038