Photo: Bryony McIntyre

John Blum & Jackson Krall

The underground hero of the NYC free jazz scene, Blum is an unbelievable pianist who deserves to be heard more widely, with an everywhere-at-once presence and a hammering, torrential inspiration; with one solo album and a quartet release on Eremite, it’s pretty shamefully that he’s so under-recorded. John studied with three of the greats in Borah Bergman, Bill Dixon and Cecil Taylor and plays with a slew of NYC free jazz luminaries, including up until his untimely death Denis Charles, as well as Sunny Murray, Daniel Carter, Sabir Mateen and William Parker.

Blum’s approach to the piano is all about form, even in the face of his intense inundation of notes, (often a great gush of shimmering fierceness, a series of rabbit-punches in the kidneys), it’s still advisable to step back now and again, to see the great and overarching shape of his work, the speed of thought on show that allows form and shape to be conjured in white-knuckle real time. Also a student of Bill Dixon’s, Jackson Krall is a drum and bell maker, sound sculptor and incendiary free jazz drummer.  As well as bringing propulsion and immediacy to collaborations with William Parker and Alan Silva, Jackson has been Cecil Taylor’s drummer of choice for the last decade, a collaboration that has borne some awesome, time-suspending fruits.  Jackson’s direct style belies a profound feel for collaboration, an ear for collective listening; he’s always underpinning, jostling and directing, at once abrupt and forceful, but when needed capable of gossamer delicacy on brushes too.

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