Bassist Sean Conly wrote the music of Re:Action “to let people play the way they play”, yet this quartet – which includes a two-forward saxophone section consisting of Tony Malaby and Michael Attias plus Pheeroan Aklaff on drums – is tightly self-disciplined and performs with composed fire, so to speak. The result is an excellent album, in which no trace of lackadaisical indetermination is found, a persuasive interpretation of tunes that sound exuberantly enthusiastic, calmly scowling, intelligently disengaged from the normalcy of jazz formulas.
The opening cover of Eric Dolphy’s “Gazzelloni” instantly establishes the fundamental temperament, an abjuration of traditional rules that nevertheless concedes very little to the cannibalistic freedom of uneducated freewheeling: the group is solid, its cohesion clearly evident since the first measures of the tune. In a completely different setting – Conly’s “Saitta” – there’s room for classic soloing by the leader, but the theme is what actually gets noticed, a combination of impassive angularity and rhythmic brashness that causes automatic movements of the limbs.
One also digs the skillfully soft-spoken “Luminiferous Aether” and “Illes Du Vent”, penned by Conly with Attias, in which the delicate side of the bassist’s personality is paralleled by the reedist’s refined classiness and sensibility in brief episodes of reciprocal good manners. On the other hand, “Something I Said?” brings in a degree of tension immediately lessened by a warm bass solo introducing additional contrapuntal conviviality immersed in agreeable dissonance.
Although I dare anybody to memorize a single minute of this record, the mark that it leaves is one of indelible brightness, splendidly symbolized by the gorgeous arrangement of “Suburban Angst”, which sounds like someone trying to escape from creditors by running in alleys, Aklaff spectacularly breaking the tempos while Malaby and Attias exchange incendiary darts with unbelievable ease, ready to return to home base when the composite leit-motif calls everybody back. Even an oddity such as the abstract-sounding “Concrete Garden” seems perfectly placed in the record’s context, therefore no more words: go get this CD pronto. It’s great.