The great Ken Waxman reviews PRAXIS for Canada’s Jazzword. PRAXIS is the second album of SERRIES/VERHOEVEN/WEBSTER and was released last year on our label.
“Another instance of in-the-moment improvisation, two Belgians and a Brit keep a synthesized program compelling by stretching timbres to the cusp of atonality without abandoning basic bonding. Fully committed to lower case playing London-based alto saxophonist Colin Webster plus Flemish pianist Martina Verhoeven and acoustic guitarist Dirk Serries have worked together in varied combinations for years so sensitive communication is paramount here.
Probing instruments’ outer limits, the often hushed and spacious creations are set up with “Carbon Patience” which introduces many of the motifs used on all tracks. Airy wafts from Webster echo into ferocious blowing then deflate to studied exhalation or silences as Verhoeven slaps and stops inner piano strings or vibrating items placed upon them. Her rhythmic outflows connect with saxophone key percussion and muscular flat top scrubs from Serries as sprawling shuffles and equivalent plucks from the piano’s wound strings serve as pointed commentary on Webster’s work. His output encompasses unexpected tongue stops as well as frequent spurts of vibrations and thinner near static yelps. Only rarely, as on “Explicit Outlook”, does interface become strident. And despite that Serries intense pumping moves to elevated pitches that cut off Webster’s tongue vibrations before tonal irregularities upset the ingenious three-part equilibrium.
The subsequent “Fissure” is the least connected to the other tunes with intermittent undiminished reed pitch variations, crisp and concise key stresses and echoing string plucks. Additional buzzing textures appear to be sourced in a fashion that doesn’t allow them to be attributed to any particular instrument. Although the scratches, squeaks and widening echoes from metal, wound nylon and wood emphasized at the top of the concluding title tune, key squeaks, reed trilling and string twangs extend only so far. By that time variations on the abbreviated peeps, twangs and pops are strokes which began the disc are heard.
Not a permanent group, Serries/Verhoeven/Webster can be relied upon, singly or together, to create fascinating sounds”