RUBICON QUARTET’s ‘Crosscurrents’ album continues to receive exposure and praise for its unique character. Canada’s JAZZWORD, led by the mighty pen of Ken Waxman, wrote a lovely review on the interaction between two generations of free impro musicians. The album is of course still available here and here.
“Tonal cross fertilization with collaborative strategies of several generations of European improvisers means that these session hold interest throughout. The main difference is between following a mix and match among countries and ensembles or seeing how quartet members from one country but different ages, articulate particular intonation.
The Rubicon Quartet is split between two participants in the first wave of Belgian Free Jazz and two contemporary players. The younger ones are guitarist Dirk Serries and pianist Martina Verhoeven, both of whom have worked with sympathetic associates like Colin Webster. The Flemish veterans are trumpeter Patrick De Groote, who after a hiatus now plays with Chris Joris; and alto saxophonist Cel Overberghe, also a painter, known for his association with Fred Van Hove.
Crosscurrents is also more all-encompassing since each Rubicon Quartet member plays on every track. Serries’ rustling guitar strokes and Verhoeven’s vibrating pumps or clicks usually maintain the narratives or engage in round robin dialogue with the horns. Sometimes in harmony, but more often in contrapuntal resistance, Overberghe’s near screeches flutter with the same intensity as De Groote’s brassy overrides. Additionally one or both regularly confer with guitar strums and/or pedal-pushed keyboard echoes. Not every exchange is spiky however, with “Airs Out”, for instance, taking on a balladic tinge as breathy reed slurs and capillary swells evolve chromatically beside paced timbres from the piano and guitar.
Most tracks are more discursive, but without upsetting the general andante interchange flow. Kinetic asides and wood slapping from the pianist and clanging strums or string pops from the guitarist are expressed, but the veterans’ round-robin creations are more pronounced by sheer volume. Aggressive, speedy bugling mixed with intermittent key percussion and reed honks characterize “A Figurative Flow”, while the concluding “Caught a Flying Ghost” may be the closest track to 1960s Energy Music. Not only does the tune begin with rough brass splatters fastened onto pounding piano runs and clanging guitar strums, but in its penultimate sequence Overberghe suddenly extrudes a cousin to Albert Ayler’s “Ghosts” that with flattement and split tones maintains ragged pitches to the end.” Jazzword – Canada