[full press reviews]


"Exceptional acoustic maelstrom . . . . . People who suggest that British jazz always lags behind American innovators should check this date. Their music is often categorised as 'free improvisation' but really is state-of-the-art jazz, blindingly swift and responsive." Ben Watson ARTSCENE

"They left the audience in a state of shock. Whiteheat improvisation, full throttle free jazz out of Archie Shepp 1969, but somehow more so: more venom, more noise, more discord, more evil heat . . . . . simultaneous musicality and cathartic excess . . . . . we are talking the essence of what makes jazz great here." Ben Watson THE WIRE

"Thrillingly intense recording by the inflammatory trio, a band that outdoes the old Brötzmann groups for sheer firepower. An outstanding record that demands a place in any comprehensive collection." THE PENGUIN GUIDE TO JAZZ ON CD, LP & CASSETTE

"Back in 1991, Hession/Wilkinson/Fell played music of such rolling majesty and power that only national stereotypes (Americans play Free Jazz, Europeans play Improv) explain why the trio wasn't hailed by the press everywhere. Paul Hession's waves of cymbals and drums still sound deliriously beautiful, like some natural force. Alan Wilkinson's donkey-bray baritone and lyrical alto rev like a Harley-Davidson, and Simon Fell's bass stokes the fire with exceptional understanding of climactic modulation. Apologists for the uneven blow-outs currently promoted as Ecstatic Jazz in the States say that music as finely-wrought as the late Coltrane isn't possible for lesser mortals. Check this out and explode a few prejudices. B:1*" Ben Watson HIFI NEWS & RECORD REVIEW

"How to say it - there is so little that can compare to this. This trio, on this night in 1991, showed up for a regular gig in the tiny town of Huddersfield, and proceeded to burn the place down with their music. From the opening moments when Wilkinson and Fell crank through a modal elegiac series of motifs before allowing Hession to up the ante and take the sound to the margin and over, there is no doubt about the singular quality of the communication here. Wilkinson in particular is simply at the top of his form, long, fluid legato lines that turn in on themselves and create a fire in Fell that we have seldom heard in recordings. His pizzicato work is driven with a dervish-like intensity that moves through scalar variations on Eastern modal tonalities as Hession moves into overdrive in providing a driving, dancing, whirling support. This was a set that probably left everybody in the audience and on the stand breathless and wondering what transpired; it certainly happens on the disc. This set is truly unbelievable and truly indispensable." Thom Jurek ALL MUSIC GUIDE

This performance placed No. 4 in The Wire Critics' Poll (Live) 1991

Nominated for the 1992 Mercury Music Prize

"Distinctive purveyors of improvised music. The power and passion of their playing called to mind the spirit of 60s US free jazz; their ferocious abstraction had much in common with European improvisers like Brötzmann/van Hove/Bennink and Schlippenbach/Parker/Lovens." Chris Blackford THE WIRE

"The most powerful band in Britain . . . . . variously described as punk-jazz, thrash-improv and acoustic metal, Hession/Wilkinson/Fell play jazz instruments, but with an onslaught that is by turns exhilarating and frightening. John Zorn has pointed out the connections between late 60s free jazz and grindcore intensity: this trio are its best exponents. Revolution in sound . . . . . these musicians produce a genuinely turbulent art . . . . . music of the real underground, where John Coltrane meets Napalm Death in forensic glitterbang. Gig of the year? You bet." Ben Watson NORTHERN STAR

"Powerful, committed and expressive free jazz" AVANT

"The rawness and spontaneity of these two Bruce's Fingers reissues fills me with a great nostalgia for the kind of 'backroom of the pub gigs' which formed most of my formative experiences of free improvisation; these recordings have huge energy, intensity and excitement. The recording quality is not ideal but it does give a documentary feeling, actually helping to capture the atmosphere of the occasion." Bruce Coates RUBBERNECK

"A powerful trio . . . . . music of fierce integrity." Julian Cowley THE WIRE

"An uncompromising document of this English trio's evolving process in live performance during their second year as a working unit. There is nothing air-brushed or artificially sweetened about this band's musical designs. The kind of warts 'n' all document that hardcore fans of this idiom will relish." David Lewis CADENCE

"Anything the group was doing in this period is worth keeping. ***(*)" THE PENGUIN GUIDE TO JAZZ ON CD

"Practically everything played and recorded from 1991-1993 by the trio was magnificent." Ben Watson HIFI NEWS

"This is a purely experimental release with compositions played by a trio consisting of sax, double bass and drums. There is heavy contrast here between the slower moments and the faster, more chaotic, moments. For example, the sax plays some mellow lines in the calmer parts and then gets into full manic improvisation with louder ideas, going from fast lines up to sustained notes that clash with the background created by the double bass. The drumming also adds some background sounds in the slower parts while then get into full twisted rhythms and patterns when the tune speeds up. The amazing thing here is the interaction between the musicians that are always in control of their instruments and show that good musicianship avoids chaotic improvisation. The two longest tunes here are masterpieces in improvisation lasting each of them more than half and hour." MUSIC EXTREME

"Bogey's recorded in 1991, and The Society Of The Spectacle captured nearly 12 years later, are significant wedges of instant composition, performed by two different trios. Significant for the calibre of improvisation that exists on each disc, scrutinizing the two side by side is even more fascinating. It proves that during those dozen years Free Improvisation has changed immeasurably. Back in 1991, the HWF trio was pouring out maximal energy music conversant with the vocabulary of Free Jazz. By 2003, the catchphrase is minimalism, as the first part of the CD's program is rife with measured gestures. Consisting of two half-hour-plus tracks and a seven minute interlude Bogey's was originally recorded on a Walkman and released on cassette. Rehabilitated for CD, the trio's sound is fine, although a few surreal moments occur when the boisterous crowd at this Huddersfield gig carries on conversations at the same volume as the improvisers, and when one punter decides that his - her ? - rhythmic clapping is the perfect accompaniment to trio interface that gets unexpectedly quiet. Not that quiet is the first adjective you would associate with this disc. Comfortably slotted in the school of emotional glossolalia, Wilkinson never seems to neglect an opportunity to scream multiphonics through his horn; compound altissimo squeals with falsetto or phrase-stuttering; or triple-tongue any note in his immediate vicinity. Rumbling and banging on his kit, Hession gives as good as he gets. Plus Fell can slap and vibrate his strings as well as any jazzbo. If Wilkinson is the Free Jazz Frankenstein monster constructed out of equal parts of Albert Ayler and Peter Brötzmann - and that's a compliment - then Rose is both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Back in 1991, the saxophonist's lung-scraping blows and stuttering reed pressure is expressed at pitches ranging from yakity-sax falsetto to pedal point bow resonation and at different tempos as well. On First Bogey for instance, half-way through, after it appears the trio's output couldn't get any more forceful, this false climax is revealed for what it is, and the tempo picks up once again. Wilkinson's irregular vibrations are turned into double-tonguing and looping patterns, while Hession contributes ruffs and pops from his snares, and rattles and scratches from the cymbals, while Fell sounds col legno squeaks and shrill sul ponticello motions. Finally, when it seems as if his instrument isn't tough enough to express his mounting agitation, Wilkinson begins spewing verbal nonsense syllables. Combing forces, the other two's display of power chording gradually reduces the interface to moderato. More of the same - but longer - Second Bogey finds the trio burying audience members' out-of-tempo scattered clapping and guttural cat-calling with a few minutes of hocketing rooster-crowing cackles from the saxophonist and a double-stopping interlude of sul ponticello double bass lines. Interestingly enough, two-thirds of the way through, a calmer double-stopping interlude of slower-paced bass notes and lower-pitched growls from the saxophonist suggest what Badland would be involved with 15 years later. Fell fans, those who yearn for the glory days of Energy Music and those interested to see how Free Music has evolved in a decade-and-a-half will be attracted to this disc." Ken Waxman JAZZWORD

"Reissued to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Paul Hession/Alan Wilkinson/Simon H. Fell trio, which first convened in November 1989, this live recording, made at a club called Bogey's in the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield on June 11, 1991, has always enjoyed something approaching cult status. First released on cassette ("with the sort of haste and enthusiasm which is the sole preserve of people at the beginning of their careers," Fell notes in the liners), it surprised everybody by winning a nomination for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize that year, and launched the career of one of the toughest and most consistently exciting trios in free improvised jazz. Recorded as it was on a Sony Pro Walkman, the sound quality is far from ideal ("the bass is onto a bit of a loser from the start" comments Fell), but Phil Darke's remastering is superb, and manages nevertheless to catch the myriad nuances of Hession's drums - on the strength of this recording alone he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Sunny Murray, Milford Graves, or Andrew Cyrille - and the dogged, sinewy saxophone work of Wilkinson, as well as the ecstatic reaction of the public, whose applause is picked up by the musicians themselves after 19 minutes of Second Bogey and reconfigured by Hession into a polyrhythmic motor to power the band forward for a further 16 minutes of fire music par excellence." iTUNES


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