The Wire review by Daniel Spicer

Scott Fields Ensemble – Fugu (CF 171)
Chicago guitarist Scott Fields originally wrote this music to accompany a dance piece and, though it was recorded in 1995, there’s a definite mid-20th century feel to it, redolent of interpretive dance and abstract expressionism. That’s got a lot to do with Robert Stright’s vibraphone – the sound of a wittily raised eyebrow – which can’t help echoing Bobby Hutcherson’s twitchy mallet work on Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch from 1964. The Dolphy comparison also extends to Fields’s spry storytelling, with episodic compositions such as “A Carrot Is A Carrot” unfolding like tartly amusing character studies. There is seriousness here, too, and Matt Turner’s cello – played largely straight and sonorous – lends the pieces a plaintive gravity. When his solos fly off into wilder, free regions, recalling Joel Freedman’s mid-1960s work with Albert Ayler, it’s like a tuxedo being ripped open, Hulk-style, from within.

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