Sunday, June 20, 2010


Stephen Haynes is a trumpeter and longtime student of/collaborator with the late Bill Dixon. He can be heard on several Dixon albums, including In Italy Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, 17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur and Tapestries for Small Orchestra. He also recorded a 2008 double trio album with Taylor Ho Bynum, which I reviewed for The Wire.

Parrhesia, which comes out on Tuesday, is his debut as a leader; the disc also features Joe Morris on guitar and Warren Smith on drums, percussion and vibes. It's a sparse and abstract disc, full of smeared horn phrases, sudden rattles, lots of space between bursts of sound, and micro-melodies that never resolve into traditional song form. Haynes and Morris don't dialogue much, but they always seem to be listening to each other and thinking very carefully about what they play and why. Perhaps even more importantly (from my point of view, anyhow), Smith (who recites a poem on the sixth track, "Yet and Still"—you've been warned) plays the drums in a fully engaged way, avoiding the diffident brushed-cymbals-and-tiny-gongs approach that makes so much capital-I improv the ideal soundtrack to a nap.

Haynes is a friend and collaborator (he wrote a terrific session diary about Tapestries for Small Orchestra, including observations from some of the other musicians present, for Burning Ambulance). But even if he was a total stranger to me, I'd say you should definitely check this disc out.

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