Ghidra, "Disclosing Your Eyes" (Strawberry Skinflint, Sol Disk)
From a record of full-on intensity, this track comes as a pause for reflection, as saxophonist Wally Shoup explores long tones and lyrical peals and guitarist Bill Horist dabs and scrapes, finally giving way to a burst of distorted cries. This trio embodies the best in Seattle free jazz, with a sure, if shifting, sense of form, and a beautifully melodic way with unconventional sound that comes across most subtly and powerfully on this cut.
Ghidra | Sol Disk
Track Listing: Vapid Fire; Spread the Worm; Plebe on Plebe; Yakisoba Western; Ennui Matisse; Naphtha Valley Sunrise; Swimming Bell; Disclosing Your Eyes; Mrs. Saws-for-Teeth; Strawberry Skinflint; Stepford Husbandry; Slow Roller
Personnel: Wally Shoup--alto sax; Bill Horist--guitar; Mike Peterson--drums
Free improvisation gets a giddy turn from Wally Shoup, Mike Peterson and Bill Horist, who filter, merge and heat different genres into one heady blend. For the most part they turn on the ignition and never let the temperature cool. Yet there is another side that latches on, one that shows that they can work a melody into a distinctive framework that gives their music a three-dimensional presence. Shoup is a volatile saxophone player. His alto describes arcs that scream for attention, but by the same token he does not overwhelm and choke on excess. Horist uses feedback and cutting lines, and with Peterson driving the rhythm with out of the usual flair, Ghidra captures attention and keeps it pegged. A fibrillating array of notes lets loose as the alto brings in "Vapid Fire." There is nothing of the former as they coax a gradual intensity, a coil that feeds on Shoup's now tense lines and the chunky riffs of Horist's guitar. A mood change comes on "Naphtha Valley Sunrise," Shoup a voice rising in cry fuelled by Peterson's scurried beat and Horist's gnarled incursions. If intensity is the watchword, then the title cut deserves full credit. All the elements that go into making free music are present in the impulse that rocks, that gets its tether in check and that lets them roam in a fertile field and open propulsive vistas. An uncharacteristically soft and gentle opening, with the visage of an oriental melody, rises slowly on "Yakisoba Western." They break that mould, Shoup getting more emphatic on the melody and then vamping it into bent lines, Horist at a tangent with feedback and wah-wah and short wailing jabs, Peterson steady on the beat. At the end of the spectrum, melody has been scattered, but the impact has not waned.
GHIDRA, STRAWBERRY SKINFLINT, SOL DISK 3720.
Vapid Fire / Spread the Worm / Plebe on Plebe / Yakisoba Western/ Ennui Matisse / Naphtha Valley Sunrise / Swimming Bell / Disclosing Your Eyes / Mrs Saws-For-Teeth / Strawberry Skinflint / Stepford Husbandry / Slow Roller. 48:52.
Wally Shoup, as; Bill Horist, g; Mike Peterson, d. 5/6/00, Seattle, WA.
[Alto saxophonist] Shoup is a central figure in the trio Ghidra. Here he is joined by guitarist Horist and drummer Peterson, who smear kaleidoscopic splashes of sound around Shoup's demanding blowing. The trio has similar power characteristics as [Lost Valentine], but its style, approach, and sound are quite different due mainly to the agitated guitar input from Horist. He jabs and punches at Shoup's onslaught, and then he seeps deeply into the world of electrified energy to cast abrupt, disjointed shadows over the performance. Horist twists and bends notes into irregular shapes, as for example on "Yakisoba Western," where he blends Oriental and Irish musical elements into a colorful aural collage. His switch moves continuously between the on/off positions, giving the tunes a staccato drive to contrast with the tidal wave of brute force flowing out of Shoup's horn. The recording presents a dozen tunes originating from a live radio broadcast in Seattle. Collective improvisation becomes the norm, but instead of an unrestrained scenario, the band uses contrasting tempo and tonality to generate a different type of kinetic energy. Shoup maintains his aggressive posture while Peterson alternates between subtleties and overtness in keeping with the ever-changing nature of the program. "Swimming Bell" becomes a sea of cacophonous sound, while other selections, such as "Disclosing Your Eyes," break this mold with sensitive trio interaction and moody responsiveness. Throughout it all, Shoup demonstrates his capacity to excite with his sharp-edged barbs, making the interaction with Horist and Peterson a challenging event. Frank Rubolino, Cadence, October 2004
Ghidra - STRAWBERRY SKINFLINT
If you've never heard Bill Horist (guitar), Wally Shoup (alto sax) or Mike Peterson (drums) before, this is the best CD to start with! I've always been a fan of Shoup's, especially so (I suppose) since he invited me to play with himself, Davey Williams, LaDonna Smith & others down in Birmingham (back in about 1982 or so). He outdoes himself on "Skinflint", & considering that he's gettin' too old to "jump" anymore, that's saying something! I watched this trio perform at the Olympia Experimental Music Festival 2 years ago, & th' music is even hotter on this recording. Horist's guitar adds a flavor of "punk" to the set, but it's "free jazz" all the way. Mike's drums are crisp & punctual throughout, & th' trio (as a whole) keeps surprise as their prime element. Listeners who want to be lulled to sleep had better look elsewhere - these compz will give you the same level of "awakening" that a 14 day meth jag would! A nice "added touch" is that all the titles are burned to the CD already, so you don't even have to create your own playlist. What's so amazing about their collective compositional style (I think) is that it's so "together"... one would think that this kind of music might frag out & die on th' vine, but in a strange way, it's much more "together" than more mainstream music. This is (without question) th' best free jazz trio work I've heard in 2004... gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & the "PICK" of this issue for "best frag jazz"! A really cool album for listeners who want more than "normal"!