The Ames Room – Bird Dies (CF 231)
Encompassed by the 48-minute marathon title track, the live performance captured on Bird Dies is irrefutably exhilarating. Featuring French alto saxophonist Jean Luc Guionnet’s lead voice, The Ames Room embarks on a splintered approach to free-bop, propelled by drummer Will Guthrie’s penetrating beats and bassist Clayton Thomas’ pumping bottom.
Perhaps the album title serves as an antithesis to the “Bird Lives” maxim ascribed to bop’s troubled genius Charlie Parker, where the hustling, pawning of saxophones, and recurring substance abuse led to his passing. This fast-paced memorial is conceivably exercised on a broad plane via the trio’s loose, but pummeling ostinatos, nestled within a fractured loop of concepts.
Guionnet’s rough-hewn tone is built on animated and staggered phrasings. Throughout the band’s relentless momentum, he carves out a tumultuous soundscape, filtered through the buoyant rhythmic element. Repetitive to some extent, the in-your-face gait offers a forum for extensive improvisation; nonetheless, it’s a high-impact endeavor that must have kept the audience on the edge of its seats.
The musicians exude angst, chaos and a locomotive-like cyclical impetus, tinted with a guttural underpinning via blistering choruses and understated variations. A relatively young band, the artists stay on target by engineering a consistent foundation, and do not simply waver into a free-form abyss during the course of the proceedings. The Ames Room provides a tensely articulated mosaic of sound, transposed into a blueprint for originality, which is a commendable attribute when considering these avant-garde-based endeavors.