The Suoni Per il Popolo Music Festival was established in 2000 and basically supports and exposes (in a word) independent music. Invited in 2006, this Trio X document comes from those sets and follows, by a day, the duet concerts with Dominic Duval (b.1944, NYC, NY) and Joe McPhee (b.1939, Miami, FL). The previous night’s concert energized Joe into a fitful night’s sleep and he, Dominic, and Jay Rosen (b.1961, Philadelphia, PA), all took afternoon naps and were well rested for this night’s adventures.
And what an adventure it was, mainly due to Trio X’s constantly evolving program. Their track record of arriving at and sustaining an elevated level of inspired musical artistry has been consistently high. Yet this is still an unpredictable muse, not a science. And when you add to this the vagaries and pitfalls of recording in what is basically an uncontrolled environment of air-conditioning hum, squeaky doors, audience noise, an active bar, street noise and other ambiant distractions, the probability of a worthy and successful recording documentation diminishes.
For this outing of Trio X, Joe decided to concentrate on tenor sax; in this case a tenor which, for the first set, he played with a bass clarinet reed.
Intros were made, lights were lowered, and Jay—mallets in hand—then Dominic, set the course for Fried Grapefruit which quickly absorbed the audience in its completeness. I was reminded that Jay and Dominic, over a decade prior to Trio X (founded in 1998), had worked together in duo and in fact recorded an entire CD in that format (The Wedding Band, CIMP 137). At the end of Jay and Dominic’s overture, Joe, mesmerized by their playing, (I think) was caught a bit off-guard as he stepped up with a couple of instinctive toots. Even so he immediately got his footing and then joined the group for what turned out to be an outstandingly beautiful and strong performance, easily trumping any of the ambient noises that disinterestedly intruded. A fine fine example of the best in statement, timing, pacing, and transitions.
Following this tour-de-force (and while Jay made some repairs on the bass drum pedal and Joe adjusted his sax pads) was a rather seamless down moment as Dominic and bass mused on. Jay (by now having made his repairs) joined in and Joe finally slid in as well for variations and a fiesta of sounds on Jump Spring.
Jay then picked up a thread with a hip drum feature (21281/2 Indiana), Dominic entered, laid down a bass line, while Joe summoned his individual strength to match, and together the trio was exceeded by the power of the group. So connected with the music are these three that it was both a new beginning and a continuation when Dominic moved into Close Up, a requiem type piece, very much favored by both Joe and Dominic.
For the second set Joe changed to a tenor reed and opened in sax-speak mode (Give Us This Day) before moving into a decidedly Ayler-esque mood. Check out Jay’s rather free use of counter time behind Joe and Dominic as the trio moved determinedly to a central point/intersection.
To accommodate a CD’s finite length, at this point in the program, we jump to the end of the second set which picks up with Dominic referencing a group favorite, Here’s That Rainy Day. At its conclusion it seemed as though the evening’s music had ended, but in the background Dominic made the signal for more. And more followed in the form of A Valentine in the Fog of War, a reprisal from their 2004 CIMP (#328) recording.
Then it was all said, played, and finished—but not lost.
Robert D. Rusch - June 5, 2006
Thanks to Steve Guimond and Peter Burton of Casa del Popolo for their most pleasant cooperation. And to John Heward and Sylvia Safdie for their hospitality.