|Sound On Survival Live with Lisle Ellis, bass; Marco Eneidi, alto saxophone; and Peter Valsamis, drums is the first CD from the new label, Henceforth Records. These recordings were made when the trio was on a US tour last year.
The first impression one might gain from this extraordinarily bold music is that any stance of neutrality simply must go by the boards--both while you are hearing it, and long after. One cannot remain blandly pluralistic with the sounds of this trio coursing through the nervous system: Bass "walking" that sounds more like running; a "ride" cymbal that careens through city streets at twice the speed of sound; saxophone glossolalia working that jab, using ancient and postmodern Morse codes.
The music of Ellis, Valsamis, and Eneidi--how is it possible? Because empathy is always present when human beings get together. The music serves as an anthem for this crucial aspect of the human condition, the "with-feeling" that draws us in as participant observers--not so much in an academic sense, but as listeners who become critically invested in the same work that these improvisors, like all human beings, draw upon for survival: games of chance, trompes d'oreille, reliance on intuition, sudden shifts of attention, goal-setting, predictions fulfilled or disconfirmed, and the vital discovery of form.
With its jump cuts, fast breaks, and slam-dunks, its combination of high intensity and utter relaxation, this radically collective music takes charge of consciousness, letting you know that it could go on indefinitely. More often than not, however, the sound suddenly comes to an arbitrated (but not arbitrary) ending. Retrospectively, it all makes sense, but in the moment, trust is one's only guide, and the musicians absolutely refuse to leave us forlorn.