Michaël Attias – Spun Tree (2012)
I’ll start this review with a truth: if you don’t like free jazz, I don’t think you are going to like Spun Tree.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get down to it. Israeli-born, but well migrated, Attias is an alto-saxophonist and composer, here leading a quintent across eight compositions/improvisations.
Spun Tree is predominantly a modern/free jazz album, but in all a rather more restrained, melodic and inventive free jazz album than you might expect. One thing that can be said, though, you can’t put this on in the background; it requires active listening.
The opening track, Bad Lucid, finds itself in the middle breaking down to a droning single note on the bass, as the drums and piano add mystery and intrigue and the horns work their way back in. Question Eight starts with a downplayed drum solo, before the bass picks up the rhythm and leads the rest into the piece. In the middle of Calendar Song, the piano picks up a chord and won’t let go, like a dog with a toy, banging out the same chord while the drums take control and mould the rhythm, before the hook is picked up again by the horns. Arc-en-Ciel is a slow considered piece which leads to the more piano-led Ghost Practice, which has unusual sections that sound more structured, but are, at the same time, rhythmically complex, before letting it all go in some loose freer sections.
In all, this is a very good album, but I think it doesn’t give without being asked; it requires the listener to work for the payoff, which it is all the more satisfying for. It is lot more melodic than lots of free jazz, and rather than feeling like the players are battling, they are restrained and very respectful of each other’s territory, which leads to a very balanced sound.
Favourite tracks: Bad Lucid, Calendar Song, Ghost Practice
Spotify link: Michaël Attias – Spun Tree