Monday, November 2, 2015

Infant Joy Quintet – New Ghosts (2014)

Infant Joy Quintet

Ray Dickaty - tenor & soprano saxophones
Jan Małkowski - alto saxophone
Ksawery Wójciński - double bass, pocket trumpet
Michał Kasperek - drums, percussion
Dominik Mokrzewski - drums, percussion
Laura Waniek - chromatic harmonica, whistles, jaw harp

New Ghosts


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut recording by the Polish Improvised Music ensemble Infant Joy Quintet, which consists of British (resident in Warsaw) saxophonist Ray Dickaty, and Polish musicians: saxophonist Jan Małkowski, bassist Ksawery Wójciński and drummers Michał Kasperek and Dominik Mokrzewski. Harmonica player Laura Waniek appears as a guest artist. The album presents three extensive improvisations, one of which is almost half an hour in duration, all credited to all the quintet members.

With a double saxophone/double drums lineup the quintet presents a solid showcase of concentrated group improvisation, which keeps a pretty steady level of intensity from the very first seconds the music starts to play till the very end, leaving almost no place for individual expression. The "wall of sound" effect hints (in addition to the album's title) as to the intention of the musicians to pay tribute to the legendary Albert Ayler, which is only partly successful.

Wojcinski, who is left alone in the "center" of this music, manages to keep the havoc in check, and his energetic, but well structured bass pulsations save the entire proceedings from disintegration. Collective improvisation is of course based primarily not on the ability of the musicians to play but rather on their ability to listen to what the other ensemble members play. On this album it often appears as if the mutual listening is secondary.

Overall this is a typical Improvised Music meeting, all a spur of the moment, completely unique and unrepeatable. As such it has its merits and is worth listening to, but there is hardly any groundbreaking, innovative or extraordinary statement being made here. It is important to listen to such music live but on record it loses its charm considerably.

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