Trumpeter / composer Nick Walters` Active Imagination documents just one day of improvisation. A sextet session – featuring 3 members of Ruby Ruston, and the drummer from The Comet Is Coming – committed to tape at Smokehouse Studio near London’s Tower Bridge.
On So Long Chef, Rebecca Nash`s piano intros Maxwell Hallett`s drum & bass-inspired battery, and the combined horns of Walters, Jeff Guntren and Ed Cawthorne, hit a harmony straight out of one of Janko Nilovic`s space age symphonies. Then on go the brakes, while the trumpet (relatively) calmly travels alone, before, step-by-step the players set to racing again – through scales – in clean, sharp, clipped clusters. Saxophones spiraling, ascending, then climbing, bouncing, back down. The drums all the while getting bolder- `til the cymbal`s a constant blur. Running on their own for a moment, as everyone else catches up, and, like Lester, leaps in.
Ahimsa drops the collective into dub and echo, creating a fourth world fog. Brass blasting righteous, leveling Jericho, though a wall of reverb-ed sound. Phased and psychedelically gated, but tight to Nim Sadot`s upright bass. Flute and trumpet trade long, sustained notes. Keys cascade in harp-like glissando as the sticksman, and percussionist Joseph Deenmamode, reach their peak.
Gordian Knot begins as an interlude, a love theme – think Charlie Parker serenading David Raksin`s Laura – then cuts to snake charmer twists, Middle-Eastern tinged punches. Wah-wah effects transforming the sax into an electrified saz. Flying free, distorting, to a crashing crescendo, a cacophony of waves and tides.
Dansoman Last Stop might namecheck Ghana, but it finds Walters and Cawthorne sharing a trajectory towards the heavens, blue skies. The light.
Active Imagination is available directly from 22a.