|Review courtesy of All About Jazz:
Good Night Songs documents a 2003 concert by a trio of two saxophonists—John Tchicai and Charlie Kohlhase—with guitarist Garrison Fewell. Though the lineup is unusual, the results are mesmerizing throughout this two-disc set.
Tchicai rose to prominence in the 1960s avant garde scene in New York. He recorded with Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, John Coltrane, and even John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Forty years later he continues to produce music that is pure, passionate and beyond categorization.
There is a subtle reference to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in Tchicai’s composition “Ramana Maharshi,” and that association is perhaps the easiest way to suggest the roots and intentions of this trio. In the short liner notes, guitarist Garrison Fewell refers to the music as “our collective improvisations that span the beautiful, the romantic and the chaotic.” While that’s an awfully good description of what was captured here, this is well-thought out music whose chaotic elements never disrupt an overall sense of quiet intensity. Like a late de Kooning painting, this feels like the work of a master who has overcome the struggles of creativity and the conflicts of youth to channel the pure energy of inspiration. While this is clearly a trio record—with equal contributions from all three members—the spirit of the endeavor is Tchicai’s.
The performance was recorded on a December night in the Unitarian Meetinghouse in Amherst, Massachusetts, and there is an undeniably wintry and spiritual feeling to the two sets. This is absolutely gorgeous, lyrical music—quiet, considered and meditative, but with an inner pulse that makes Good Night Songs anything but bedtime music.
John Tchicai: senor axophone, bass clarinet, voice, percussion; Charlie Kohlhase: tenor, alto, and baritone saxophones; Garrison Fewell: guitar, chopsticks, slide, percussion.