Veteran drummer William Hooker continues to expand his varied discography on the No Business imprint, with the addition of Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival. Like Crossing Points (2011) with the late reedman Thomas Chapin, it's a meeting with a resourceful saxophonist -this time Liudas Mockūnas, a co-founder of the label. But unlike the former encounter, on this occasion Hooker avoids the all out aural assault which tested Chapin to the limits, settling instead for power exercised with restraint and precision. And the result is all the better for it. Even in the most extreme moments the two always seem to possess another gear should they need it.
Both men are at the top of their game on this date, captured at the 2013 edition of the Lithuanian capital's jazz festival. Mockūnas and Hooker form a relaxed, purposeful pairing. A strong sense of mutual engagement pervades the four jointly extemporized cuts. Mockūnas comes out of the Peter Brötzmann/Mats Gustafsson lineage of saxophone players: like them he stands as a broad brush elemental presence, melding a roughly etched lyricism with overblown curdled squalls. Hooker responds as if following a score only he can see. His tightly focused exclamations create an unfurling carpet of structured interjection which both buoys and prompts the hornman.
Each allows ample leeway for the other in spacious transparent interaction throughout the concert, leavened by two short solo interludes in "Ideal." Straight from the incremental beginning of "Id" where isolated strikes of cymbal and snare alternate with a gurgling saxophone stream, the confidence, trust and listening is evident. As the piece flows in unbroken dialogue into "Idea," the culmination arrives through an anthemic swell of rolling rhythm and impassioned blowing. But it's not until the concluding "Idol," where the heartbeat throb and convoluted soprano murmurs grow into piercing multiphonics recalling bagpipes, that the anticipated slugfest materializes. It makes for an exhilarating end to a superior free jazz outing.
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