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Exuberance - Live at Vision Festival

Derek Taylor, Bagatellen

Memory can be a fickle mechanism. While I'm still a young buck by boilerplate 'jazz critic' standards, my melon seems increasingly prone to lapses and absences. I'm pretty sure I was among the audience for the gig presented on this new Ayler disc, but the details are nebulous. Fortunately Frank Rubolino's impassioned liners scrub clean the picture made sooty by time's ash. Encapsulated under the effusive sobriquet Exuberance the quartet of Louie Belogenis, Roy Campbell, Hilliard Greene and Michael Wimberly assumed the Mulberry Street stage back in the summer of 03' and alternately glided and ripped through a four-song set.
Countless saxophonists continue to crib from the Coltrane chapbook, but Belogenis' borrowings are less tangible than most. Honing in on the noble humanity at the core of Trane's sound, his burnished tenor traces lines writ with keening rasps and fits snugly into a frontline with Campbell's freebop trumpet stylings. The latter man might not be nearly as fluent on flute as he is with brass, but his twittering tones on the opening "Invocation" aren't the work of a neophyte either. Wimberly's Africanized vocal preamble evolves over an athletic hand percussion patter and high bridge arco bass by Greene. Belogenis' dry vibrato-shaded tenor inflections milk an even more melancholy mood as the drummer switches over to his trap kit. The piece meanders a bit in its middle minutes, but the return of emphatic saxophone geysers, which segue into Campbell's textured smears and tail-end solo, ensures an exit on an appropriately emotive crest.

Keeping with the ceremonial and spiritual disposition "Procession," a prolix cut at 21+ minutes, offers up even more terrain for free range blowing, almost to a fault. After an athletic prologue by Greene's bow and fingers the four cycle through a series of loosely improvised segments. Campbell is more fractious here, sometimes on target, at other junctures distractingly diffuse. "Evocation" spotlights his muted bell and oddly ends just as it's getting good. "Incandescence" immolates in a fulmination of florid overblowing. Belogenis is especially explosive on the closer, galloping across another funk-structured stomp from Wimberly with a spray of whinnying sorts. Patricia Parker supplies the sign-off with band introductions amidst the hoots and whistles of the audience. A boisterous and fun way to go out, it's one that clinches their chosen moniker.

Jan Ström's decision to start releasing sets from the Vision Fest a few years back has proven an inspired one in my book. Limited to neighborhood of forty to fifty minutes they approximate the running time of LPs. And while the performances can sometimes wander, their comparative brevity is usually a refreshing departure from the norm of most free jazz/improv discs. Exuberance's album subscribes astutely to this economical mold. It's one that makes repeat spins all the more probable and persuasive.