Little Women – Lung (2013)

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Listening to single-take forty-plus minute group performances is not a casual affair, it’s embarking on an odyssey. Such was the case when absorbing Ivo Perelman’s forty-three minute Serendipity and again just days later in soaking up Little Women’s forty-two minute Lung.

Lung is collaborative like Perelman’s album-length track, but Little Women noodled on this one a while before committing it to tape, and the coordination and anticipation found within the cinematic, episodic flow of the piece probably required a little forethought, anyway. It’s not short on surprises, though.

In truth, the cinematic progression was intended. “When working with this new purely collaborative creative process, we found that the best way to communicate the sounds/feelings/form/arrangement we were hearing was by describing visualizations or scenes, much like describing a movie, or a dream” they write. What that means in practical terms is that the quartet didn’t keep their collective foot mashed on the gas pedal from beginning to end as they did with Throat (2010), but rather, make use of a fifth instrument: silence.

For the first minute, silence is all that’s “played,” but barely audible breathing emerges. Jason Nazary’s meekly enter by way of gently tapped cymbals, followed a couple of minutes later by the tenderly interlocking saxes of Darius Jones (alto) and Travis Laplante (tenor), along with the radiant guitar of Andrew Smiley. That motif in turn falls away to a four-part vocal drone that goes on for two minutes until abruptly dismissed by a single note blast of sax. The remaining twenty-four minutes travels through segments of peace, uncertainty, surprise, chaos and convulsions. Some quieter moments are abruptly interrupted randomly by horn blasts, on another occasion, a two-horn figure is played deliberately out of tune and during the final segment, near silence is broken up by odd sax cries tangled with equally odd vocal sounds.

Little Women’s follow up to the brutal Throat was bound to be intriguing, especially since Jones had in the interim firmly established himself as the hottest young alto saxophonist in the Downtown New York improvised music scene. The band responded by forgetting about success and reputation, and continuing to pursue their instincts. Their instincts rewarded them once again.

Lung becomes available for sale at all major retail outlets April 9, by AUM Fidelity.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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