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Cold Bleak Heat: It's Magnificent, But It Isn't War


Cold Bleak Heat: It's Magnificent, But It Isn't War

Label:Family Vineyard
Format:Album
Media:CD
Genre:Free Improv

By Marc Masters | Posted 3/16/2005

At first glance, saxophonist Paul Flaherty and drummer Chris Corsano are an unlikely pair: The former is a white-bearded Santa Claus clone who’s played on more than 20 albums since the 1970s, while the latter bears the shaven head and youthful visage of a skatepunk. But the duo’s amazing meld—Flaherty’s bellowing runs and graceful melodics poured into Corsano’s precise patterns and whirlwind torrents—makes their partnership one of the most exciting recent developments in free jazz. Watching audiences react to their rapid-fire improvisations makes their sole album as a duo, The Hated Music, the most inaccurately titled record ever.

Cold Bleak Heat features Flaherty and Corsano in a quartet with trumpeter Greg Kelley and No Neck Blues Band bassist Matt Heyner. As with most collective free jazz, the album’s main m.o. is small, sparse noises that build into massive cacophonous crescendos. Yet the daunting amount of energy and ideas here makes the group’s time-tested method seem wholly new. The frantic “Bloodshot Blink” and the Corsano showcase “You Only Live for Infinity” are like mini-albums, laying out nearly all of the quartet’s endless bag of tricks. Kelley’s muted blurts and Heyner’s bowed assaults add layers of motion that easily match Flaherty and Corsano’s fire.

It’s Magnificent’s only drawback may be its exhaustiveness. The quartet’s creative range can be dizzying, but even if this record is too much to take in a single sitting, it’s hard to imagine giving it just one.

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