Tomas Fujiwara’s Triple Double: March On

Brooklyn-based drummer leads caustic, atonal improvisations featuring Mary Halvorson, Ralph Alessi, Taylor Ho Bynum and others


This intriguing album follows on from Fujiwara’s two previous self-released Triple Double sextet albums – all featuring the same line-up – the eponymously titled debut (2017) and March (2022), the latter recorded during the same sessions as March On.

Three of the tracks – Smoke, Docile Fury Duet and Silhouettes – average only a minute in length so act as teasers to the centrepiece and title track, which spans just over half an hour. The opening and closing tracks feature duets between the two guitarists and Docile Fury Duet is a gripping two-minute dialogue between guitarist Brandon Seabrook and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum.

The marathon 30-minute March On comprises waves of sound alternating between crescendos and lulls of solo or duo instruments. The peaks though are unquestionably dominated by the frenetic drums of Fujiwara and Cleaver.

It’s interesting to compare the respective approaches of the two guitarists. Seabrook offers a panoply of visceral, aggressive notes sometimes channelling Sonny Sharrock at his most terrifying. Mary Halvorson, Fujiwara’s bandmate from Thumbscrew, takes a more considered, reflective path, her guitar recognisable for the trademark deployment of delay and expression pedals. This is not to stereotype the guitarists’ styles since they both demonstrate a captivating, searching method and when playing together they complement one another at a near psychic level.

The horns are heard adding vital tonal colour that is surprisingly warm and offsets the angularity of the guitars. But it’s the percussion that provides the glue to the whole affair, whether in hypnotic barrages of twin tom toms or snare and woodblocks. Fujiwara intended the music to be totally improvised and considering the individuality of the six musicians involved, the resulting music is remarkably, almost magically coherent.

Smoke; Docile Fury Duet; March On; Silhouettes (35.29)
Fujiwara, Gerald Cleaver (d); Mary Halvorson, Brandon Seabrook (elg); Ralph Alessi (t); Taylor Ho Bynum (c). New Haven, 11 December, 2019. / DL only