Flow Trio - Set Theory, Live at the Stone

Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz

Flow Trio is Louie Belogenis on saxes, Joe Morris on double bass and Charles Downs on drums, a trio that I've praised before, especially with their "Rejuvenation" from 2009 on ESP. Their 2007 debut album was on Ayler Records too, and was just called "The Flow", and the band's name is actually a very good description of the kind of music you get.

As with the previous albums, the pieces are very lenghty, giving the musicians the possibility to really expand and develop their improvisations that really flow, over implicit slow to mid-tempi, and with Belogenis tenor and soprano being the dominant voice, yet leaving quite some space to Morris and Downs too. The reedist is real master of the subtle shadings of his tone, sometimes yearning, sometimes sad or expansively spiritual,  often bluesy, like a calmer and softer version of Albert Ayler, and often coming into the musical space that Trio X developed over the past years : a very sensitive and deeply emotional free playing, deeply rooted in the free jazz origins in the sixties, yet equally forward-looking, working with structureless sounds, without needing to rely on phrases or themes. The long quiet moment in the middle of the first track is a nice example of that, built around long arco bows by Morris.

Louie Belogenis surely is under-recognised. His expressivity on tenor is among the best you can hear, with a deep and warm sound, full of vibrant emotions. He is also a story-teller, slowly building up tension, getting all the elements right to move the improvisation to moments of suspense, tension  and climax.  Morris and Downs are absolutely excellent in this context: versatile, equally responsible for creating the overall sound and moving the plot further, underpinning it and giving it overall direction.

The trio is getting better with each album. I hope we won't have to wait another two years to hear their next one.