Free Jazz review by Paul Acquaro

Elliott Sharp Trio – Aggregat (CF 250)
I find myself returning again and again to Elliott Sharp’s Trio recording Aggregat. Sharp is hit or miss for me, but I’ve enjoyed cherry picked albums like Monk/Sharpe and his duo recording with Scott Fields. Aggregat however, turned my ears on end.

Sharp, usually an unusually inventive guitarist is heard here on both guitar and saxophone. His sax playing is actually a bit more inside than out and flirts with the tuneful side of edginess.

The album kicks off with the angular composition ‘Nucular’, which features Sharp’s sax playing with a long free form improvization bracketed by an identifiable arching melodic head. This is followed up by the prickly electric guitar on ‘Hard Landing’. The guitar’s clean sound gives way to a distorted burst of energy, devolving from rhythm and melody into a miasma of sound. Beneath it and throughout, upright bassist Brad Jones and drummer Ches Smith keep Sharp’s explorations moving but grounded and the ideas well connected. The squeaky start to ‘Mal Du Droit’ gives way to some swinging free improv courtesy of the rhythm section, Sharp’s guitar see-sawing between a noisy smear of effected chords and precise searing lines. I could go on, discussing the sonic carpet bombings in ‘The Grip’ or the describe in excruriating detail the perturbing screech in ‘Amellia’, but I think I’ve said enough.

Squeaky moments and all, this one is a keeper in the persistent playlist.


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