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Darius Jones - fLuXkit Vancouver review

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    Posted: 04 Jan 2024 at 3:02am
In a Fluxus-inspired work for saxophone, drums, and string quartet, the New York-based musician strikes a boisterous balance between composition and free improv.
“I always want my music to have that quality where things seem familiar but different,” New York saxophonist Darius Jones said recently. “Like when you remember something somewhat differently than how it has actually occurred.” Jones executes that plan triumphantly on fLuXkit Vancouver (its suite but sacred), a four-song suite with drummer Gerald Cleaver and four string players from Vancouver, British Columbia. The music echoes Jones’ past work as well as the avant-garde jazz that has informed his oeuvre. But there is always something new going on; sometimes it seems as if the music had changed since the last time you listened.
fLuXkit Vancouver’s fascinatingly amorphous quality comes in part from Jones’ interest in Fluxus, an art movement from the 1960s and 1970s that emphasized event-based works where the process was as important as the outcome. Sometimes an individual Fluxus piece would include a “fluxkit,” a box containing a score, instructions, and everyday objects, all intended for use in performance. Jones considers the album’s cover art, liner notes, and score, which combines traditional and graphic notation, to be just such a fluxkit. His goal was to mix media into something, as he put it, “where art and music meet.”

You don’t have to have access to his entire fluxkit to appreciate Jones’ vision. The four pieces here equitably combine composition and improvisation, placing the act of conception on the same plane as the act of performance. It’s all there in the opening track, “Fluxus V5T 1S1,” which starts with Jones in a prayerful mode, playing slow, heavy tones over Cleaver’s snare and the reverent sounds of violinists (and brothers) Jesse Zubot and Josh Zubot and cellist Peggy Lee. Soon, Cleaver inserts a beat that’s followed briskly by James Meger’s stair-climbing bass, and the ensemble coalesces around that structure. But Jones doesn’t join them, instead breaking out with a contrasting theme, delivering a multi-layered performance that’s both razor-sharp and unbounded.

An aura of indeterminacy continues throughout fLuXkit Vancouver, but don’t mistake it for indecision. This is a fearless, even boisterous record, with Jones’ penetrative playing matched solidly by everyone on his team, especially Cleaver and Lee. “Zubot” is named for the two violinists, both of whom contribute mightily, but the drummer and cellist steer the ship, slapping and sawing a course for Jones to sail through. Cleaver’s tom-led rolls set the tone for “Rainbow,” an 18-minute journey that includes a strikingly minimalist bass solo from Meger, and a few rushes of all-together crescendo that evoke Charles Mingus’ most assertive ensemble works. 

By the time the 17-minute closer “Damon and Pythias” arrives, Jones’ writing and playing reach their apex. Surprises abound: springy violin plucks, violent sax stabs, and, most frequently, rhythmic surges that have the force of massive waves. It’s all part of keeping the process right up front. Jones initially made a grammatical error in the album’s punning title—“its suite” rather than “it’s suite”—but decided to add a strikethrough rather than correct his mistake. That’s the spirit of fLuXkit Vancouver: Jones lets us see it all, making the world feel like a wide-open place.

from https://pitchfork.com 


Edited by snobb - 04 Jan 2024 at 3:04am
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