Hall / Mike Khoury / Jason Shearer
Genres: free jazz, improv
Bryan Day / PE
3803 S 25th St.
Omaha, NE 68107
Dec 16 - 22 2002
the holiday season soon approaches, it is clear that this year's hot
ticket, as far as gift-giving goes, is the collaboration between free
jazzists Ben Hall, Mike Khoury, and Jason Shearer.
Packed full of energetic, tension-heavy free jazz pieces, Insignia
is one of the most enjoyable improv releases to come out in a while.
On the nine tracks of Insignia, Ben Hall plays
percussion (and occasionally piano), Mike Khoury plays violin,
and Jason Shearer plays saxophone, clarinet, and flute. The
results of the collaboration are nothing less than hectic. Though
occasionally their sound becomes quieter and more subtle, the majority
of Insignia is spent with the artists either excitingly blasting away
at their instruments, or masterfully building tension. In fact,
Insignia is all about tension. "Six and Lodge" is a good
example of this - as Hall's spastic percussion pops and crashes along
in the background, Khoury's violin strokes slowly poke at the
listener's ears, going back and forth and back and forth until all of
the sudden Shearer comes in with a flute and messes things up,
causing the violin to suddenly go insane. The chain reaction is
interesting, and the music is completely amazing. It's the stuff that
free jazz fans go crazy for.
Other tracks are similarly enjoyable. "Shotgun," perhaps
an allusion to Peter Brotzmann's classic "Machine
Gun" piece, is an exciting, energetic romp that's filled with
mile-a-minute sax slurs, freaked-out dashes of the violin strings, and
destructive percussive insanity. "Last Date," on the other
hand, is a mysterious, dark track that features clarinet in the
foreground. The mere hints of cymbals and violin in the background
help build the eerie background, and it maintains this tense, creepy
atmosphere until the very end.
Altogether, Insignia is a fantastic free jazz album that
should appeal to most improv fans out there. The inclusion of violin,
an instrument not often found in jazz music, adds an original element
to the sound. Recommended.
9 tracks; distributed by the