John O'Gallagher - alto saxophone
Johannes Weidenmueller - double bass
Mark Ferber - drums
Recorded live at Seeds, Brooklyn (Nov, 2015)
Mix & Mastered by Peter Beckmann (London)
Produced by John O'Gallagher
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
released December 16, 2016
ABOUT THE ALBUM
As New York-based saxophonist & composer John O’Gallagher would emphatically relate, there is nothing quite like the concept and energy of a live performance to provide both artist and listener with the affecting, visceral tingle which is at the heart of great music – and especially true when it comes to the spontaneity of improvised jazz. So the opportunity to offer up these riches to a wider audience, through a live album, has always been an aspiration for the acclaimed altoist and his longtime colleagues Johannes Weidenmueller (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums).
Live in Brooklyn captures the spirit of the chordless trio’s appearance as part of Seeds Brooklyn’s intimate, weekly concert series – a popular venue for many leading contemporary artists – with realism and verve. And having forged a close, intuitive working relationship over several years, this became the perfect environment in which to unveil new material alongside interpretations of two tracks from their studio album 'The Honeycomb' (the saxophonist has also previously released on Whirlwind, with 2013’s The Anton Webern Project). The realization and 'stretch and pull' of the original compositions in this conducive setting, during the gig and in playback, confirmed to O’Gallagher that this was the one – and now the wider public have the fortuity to focus on this rich seam of in-the-moment creativity.
One of the most compelling saxophone improvisers on the New York scene, John O’Gallagher’s many collaborators have included Jeff Williams, Ben Monder, Maria Schneider and Kenny Wheeler – and all the years of experience cascade from his alto bell with a seemingly inexhaustible and colorfully individual vocabulary, supported prominently by the high-level, malleable responses of Weidenmueller and Ferber. The saxophonist explains that the blurred lines of composition and conversational improvisation are key to the challenge: “That’s the beauty of playing with these two guys – they’re masters of form and structure, yet don’t always have to mark it.”
Oblique five-against-seven-meter experiment ‘Prime’ sets up an increasingly turbulent dialogue, O’Gallagher’s forceful, rippling lines prompting heavyweight, percussive reactions from bassist and drummer; and ‘Blood Ties’ alludes to the band’s prowess in intertwining the number’s purely rhythmic beginnings with various pitch collections. The broad landscape of ‘Credulous’ prompts extreme displays, especially from saxophonist and drummer; and furtive ‘Nothing To It’ finds its animation through the close connection between Weidenmueller and Ferber.
‘Extralogical Railman’ – an anagram in both composition and title – turns Charlie Parker’s ‘Relaxin’ at Camarillo’ upside down, O’Gallagher carefully spinning the rhythmic content on its axis, then reassembling re-pitched melodics against it… and it swings with glorious abandon, the saxophonist’s lines incessantly searching, screeching and tumbling through “a number you know, but can’t put your finger on.” Finally, ‘The Honeycomb’, specifically originating from common links and patterns between tones, lets rip for an appreciative audience.
Describing the elevated, exposed nature of this three-way partnership, O’Gallagher concludes: “We are constantly listening and taking risks, creating an atmosphere which is exciting to play in – there is no 'wrong', and we all know the paths back. A shared trust provides the confidence to pretty much explore any avenue and be assured that everything will be OK. That transformative, on-the-edge excitement – not knowing what’s gonna happen – is what I’ve always wanted.”