From the fiercely atonal opening squonks of “Only the Devil Has No Dreams,” listeners know they’re in for a no-holds-barred free-jazz workout courtesy of heavyweight avant-garde saxophonists Peter Brotzman, Ken Vandermark and Mats Gustafsson, who periodically perform and record within the collective trio Sonore. This is the second of their three recordings to date, and the musicians once again exhibit their well-known concern with exploring the outer limits of melody, harmony and rhythm. What may surprise those unfamiliar with these particular horn players is the surprising lyricism and deep-seated emotion they call forth within their uncompromising approach. Make no mistake, this is the cutting edge of modern jazz. Brotzman, Gustafsson and Vandermark tear down the traditional parameters of jazz and refashion it according to their own musical logic, in which lyrical impulses flow organically from their collective improvisation. No matter how abstract the music gets, it still channels the fundamental jazz elements of blues and swing. The members of Sonore just express these qualities in a stark modernist vernacular. The cumulative power and intensity of their three horns is, at times, staggering. Brotzmann unleashes his trademark hyper-aggression, while also exhibiting the greater discipline he’s manifested in the past decade or so. Gustafsson brings his confrontational sensibility and mad improvisational skills, and Vandermark rounds things off with his punk energy and astringent lyricism. What’s more, Sonore is fiercely democratic: each member is accorded equal freedom and prominence, yet they manage never to step on each other’s toes. And the range of sonic tonalities they conjure is nothing short of astonishing, from full-throated staccato growls to delicately shaded bluesy phrases. Despite the lack of a rhythm section, the horns frequently explode with percussive energy. At other times, they evoke electronic sounds, as in the tracks “Open Shore” and “Driftwood.” By turns tough yet tender, uncompromising yet accessible, the music created by these hardcore iconoclasts ultimately manages to be something frequently lacking in free jazz: inspirational and affecting.
I would recommend this to a friend