Dikeman/Lisle/Serries/Webster Quartet: Apparations
Kodian Trio: I
For Dirk Serries, the musical landscape changes depending, it seems, on the company he's keeping. Not long ago, the Belgian guitarist collaborated with Chihei Hatakeyama on an ambient recording for Glacial Movements called The Storm of Silence; when playing with the likes of saxophonists Colin Webster and John Dikeman and drummer Andrew Lisle, a considerably more aggressive side of the guitarist emerges. I and Apparations appear on Tonefloat's New Wave Of Jazz imprint, though the jazz strain mined in both cases is worlds removed from the so-called ‘smooth' kind. On the contrary, the zone Serries and company inhabit invites comparison to the kind of spiky free-wailing associated with figures like Peter Brotzmann, Derek Bailey, and Sonny Sharrock. Be forewarned: nothing so cozily familiar as jazz swing surfaces on either set.
The prosaically titled I is the debut outing by Serries, Webster (alto, baritone), and Lisle under the Kodian Trio name. Operating collectively as a quartet with Amsterdam-based Dikeman, the musicians recorded two albums in early 2015, a live set issued on Webster's Raw Tonk Records and the newly released studio set Apparations. On I, five pieces are presented, each of which shows the three players experiencing little difficulty compensating for Dikeman's absence. Though the material derives from a late-2015 studio session, a raw, live feel dominates, and the three confidently navigate their way through real-time improvisations scalding to the touch. Yes, blistering episodes surface—dissonant squeals from Dikeman, prickly shards from Serries, and volatile flourishes by Lisle—but so too do fleeting moments of calm as the trio brings a unified sensibility to the undertaking. With the exception of the surprisingly restrained fifteen-minute closer “III,” I catches the trio breathing communal fire: imagine forty-six minutes of bristling, molten improv and you're in the right ballpark.The aforementioned Apparations features Serries, Lisle, Webster, and Dikeman (Webster on baritone, Dikeman on tenor) on a double-LP set. The point-of-comparison in this case is obviously to the thirty-two-minute Raw Tonk release, which documents a concert the four gave at Café Oto in April of 2015; the hour-long New Wave Of Jazz collection, on the other hand, captures what went down a day later at the Sound Savers studio. In contrast to the urgency of the Kodian Trio set and the live quartet outing, the four side-long pieces on Apparations unfold with marked deliberation and control. The opening fifteen-minute track immediately catches one's attention for the patience with which it develops; during much of it, Serries exchanges violent shards for atmospheric textures, Lisle opts for drum brushes, and even the saxophonists rein in their aggressive impulses—until the tumultuous closing minutes, at least. “II” sees the four alternating between bluster and rumination for eighteen explorative minutes, while the longest of the pieces is a twenty-minute setting that slowly blossoms from a subdued, minimalistic beginning into an extended series of splintery convulsions by all concerned. Whatever their differences in dynamics and pacing, both I and Apparations offer compelling exercises in musical democracy.