Mazzarella/Haker-Flaten/Ra – ‘Azimuth (Live at Constellation)’
The third release in Astral Spirits latest batch, Azimuth, records three improvisers during an hour-long set at Chicago’s jazz and classical focused Constellation club late last year, featuring the show organizer Nick Mazzarella on alto saxophone, Norweigan bassist Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten (currently based in Austin, formerly Chicago), and hometown hero Avreeayl Ra — born Arthur O’Neil, drummer for the Arkestra for several years — handling percussion and flute. Though Mazzarella is the least commonly known of the trio, we have him to thank for such a spectacular session making its way into the Astral Spirits catalog. Order and expectation are maintained to an extent on the a-side, though the more extreme angles on the side-spanning opener, “Vega,” are a constant source of interesting juxtapositions and occasional, satisfying moments of gentle fuzz. With saxophone so much at the fore, Mazzarella initially seems to face the greatest challenges as far as pace and progression, but limitations there make the set’s balance dynamic. Throughout, Haker-Flaten plays beautifully with resonance and Ra lines a bed of percussion that shimmers as he unleashes overlapping tides of controlled energy. By comparison, the b-side feels much looser for everyone, “Rigel” opening with an engaging bit of prepared water recording and Haker-Flaten’s subtle acoustics in particular given new room to shine. Ra leads with flute on the final star in this stellar angle, “Spica,” before giving way to sax.
Order a copy of Azimuth from Astral Spirits / Monofonus Press.