|his is a great date featuring a first time unit lead by Paul Flaherty on alto & tenor saxes, Joe McPhee on tenor & soprano saxes & pocket trumpet, Steve Swell on trombone, John Voigt on double bass and Laurence Cook on drums. Over the past few years a number of my favorite players like Flaherty, McPhee and Swell, have been getting recorded on a more regular basis and getting some of that well deserved recognition. No doubt that Paul Flaherty and Joe McPhee are not spring chickens as both must be pushing sixty. The Boston-area based rhythm team are also older cats who have played with Thurston Moore and Flaherty on occasion. This is quite a fine free-jazz session with inspired playing from all five of these veteran musicians. They take to time to work through more spacious areas and there is strong interaction between all participants. The turtle mentioned in the title is a creature that moves very slowly but does eventually get to where it is going and that is a good metaphor for these great, determined explorers.
"Turtle crossing" is the testimony of the one and only occasion when Paul Flaherty, Joe McPhee, Steve Swell, John Voigt and Lawrence Cook met and spontaneously played together, five years ago. A quintet armed with two saxophones, trombone, double bass and drums, Jumala spins its wheels right from the start, moving away from jurisdictional phraseologies and adding a few ounces of haywire poorhouse energy as a product of intense interactions during some challenging propositions. Swell's trombone in "Weighing of the heart" is something to be clinching to in the context of what's maybe the best track in the disc; the smart arco elucubrations by Voigt often help avoiding the fall into the feared (at least by me) "swingy/jazzy" vibe. The real best comes when the group travels near to well behaved - if never rehearsed - organic counterpoints, thus liberating the music from any aura of "domestic freedom" that could have ruined even the best intentions. Ever the perfect players, Flaherty and McPhee exchange educated opinions, bitter darts and incendiary omens, finding reciprocal comprehension in Cook's rhythmic discrepancies even during the most abundant blowing tides.
Paul Flaherty (as, ts), Joe McPhee (ts, ss, pkt-tp), Steve Swell (tb), John Voigt (b), Laurence Cook (dr)