All Music Guide
Team Up is a free improv trio consisting of Jeremy Drake on amplified
acoustic guitar, Stephen Flinn on percussion, and Chris Heenan on alto
sax, bass and contrabass clarinets. Heenan and Drake are co-organizers of
the line space line festival and appear on Mount Washington’s debut
release, also on Reify. If Heenan’s duo CD with Chris Forsyth sees him
focus on very fragile overtones, here he comes through as a more extrovert
player, balancing a sense of space and silence with bounce and a little more
testosterone. This studio session, recorded in November 2003, is filled with
contrasting dynamics, sudden textural shifts, and other surprises. Heenan
simply dazzles: his control over the behemoth contrabass clarinet is
impressive. He can squeeze out of it the tiniest overtones and the harshest
screams, with the kind of flexibility John Butcher displays on tenor sax.
Drake’s work on the amplified acoustic guitar occasionally recalls John
Russel’s undecipherable logic, but most of the time he explores reified
(and rarefied) textures. Flinn switches between cymbal bowing and Paul
Lytton-esque free playing, holding on his shoulder the weight of the mood.
&“Defamiliarizing the Table” and “A Certain Distance Between
Individuals” are two fabulous examples of a finely-attuned trio of
musicians capable of understanding and surprising each other. “Nearby
Objects Leading Others to Recede” and “The Oscillation of Arc & Circle”
explore outstretched, silence-filled atmospheres. Team Up make use of the
“quiet” esthetics that have developed in the late ‘90s and early 2000s in
free improvisation, but the group integrates it to a bigger picture.
Demanding, but highly rewarding.
Improvisation based on textural acumen, never going bananas, always building upon intelligent discrepancies and accurate exposition. Jeremy Drake and Chris Heenan bend and mold timbres like two lovely artisans, linking their instrumental craft to the always well placed statements by percussionist Stephen Flinn. Guitars are barely recognizable at times, while reeds are treated with both caress and punch, emitting long harmonics and reflective tones mixing with colours near to the daxophone land. These musicians possess a supple mind and play without periphrases, going straight to the core of meaning without looking around for good panoramas; their proven dexterity is such a high value against any possibility of oddball nothingness, which in improvising contexts is always more than a chance happening. Precious moments subsequent to aleatory prefaces - that's how I synthesize "Team up" in a few words.
Aiding and Abetting
Jeremy Drake on guitar, Stephen Flinn on percussion and Chris Heenan on reeds, all doing the extreme improvisation thing. I like the way the trio works together--each of the three occupies a completely different sonic space. The ideas here are infectious.