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6 January 2015

Paul Flaherty - 'Aria Nativa' (Family Vineyard)

Another solo saxophone record I must try to write about both intelligently and subjectively. I was just talking with someone who mentioned a solo saxophone 7" release by some current artist (I forget who) and we were remarking on how that's actually the perfect format for solo sax. Though I've already weighed in quite positively on a few such longplayers in these pages (David Boykin, Hamiet Bluiett) and we're only up to the F's. Aria Nativa has the live audience that Last Eyes lacked, though they are quiet and attentive, leading me to only surmise the energy they must be fueling; it's like listening to something invisible and possibly a cultural construct. But maybe that's one of the beautiful things about music - that an audience can generate an undeniable effect on a performer, and that relationship is symbiotic - yet it's not scientifically measurable. I dunno, maybe the crowd noise is fake like some live records do, but I'm going to buy into the idea that this is a unique contract between Flaherty and audience, documented on wax forever by the Family Vineyard label. Flaherty's warm as blood here, letting the circular note patterns attain their overtones which build into something inviting, yet still challenging. When they eventually constrain themselves into dying shrieks (such as at the end of Side 1, on the short 'I Don't Live Here Antymore' piece), there's a sense of resignation. Maybe the tone is set by Ken DelPonte's poem, 'No More America', which plasters the back cover of this record, a 5 part revisiting of the turbulent late 60s (though copyrighted in 2008). He wouldn't have included this were it not meant to relate to what he was trying to express, and the longer piece at the start of side 2 reflects the most onto the history of "jazz", meaning there's some identifiable swing and blues residue. It's faint, but it's there; this couldn't be mistaken for having emerged from any other tradition, as extreme and attenuated as it might seem. But this is the jazz of Shepp, Ayler and Sanders; a jazz built on the same late-60s consciousness change that DelPonte's poem reflects. This is forty years later but the fire is still burning, and it seems (at the moment) that there's still something to say.

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