Jacob Wick – Twice Love (with Casey Anderson and Christian Weber) (2016)
I’ve known Jacob Wick for the better part of year. He’s one of a very small number of “outsiders” who have found themselves invited into the depths of Mexico City’s incredible avant-garde and experimental music scene. I’ve seen him play dozens of times, and increasingly count him among a small number of musicians from the generation following my own, who give me hope for the future of radical musical practice and Free-Improvisation.
Jacob plays the trumpet – an instrument which finds little representation in current realizations of avant-garde music. Of course we have Wadada Leo Smith, John Hassell, Nate Wooley (with whom Jacob has played in the past), and a few others, but it seems to have become an instrument which is sidestepped. Maybe it isn’t cool. Perhaps its sounds are so connected to the history of Jazz, few can conceptualize new ways of approaching it. Either way, we don’t hear enough of it, and Jacob is a player to show you why.
Twice Love is one of those great records that defies easy definition. You can’t put your finger on exactly what it is. I keep listening to it again and again – enrapt with it’s two sides. When we had a few people around for drinks the other night, I had it on, and as it concluded, there was an overwhelming clamor to play it again (when does that happen?).
The cassette comes as the second entry in the catalog of the already fantastic San Diego based label Marginal Frequency. It’s the result of two duo sets performed during January of 2016 – one with the Swiss bassist Christian Weber in LA, and the second with saxophone, and electronics player Casey Anderson (Wadada Leo Smith’s Organic, Jula Holter, etc) in San Diego. I’m particularly drawn to music that leaves its players open and exposed – be that in proximity, playing, or production. I love risk, and I was hit in the face with it when I approached these recordings. They feel dangerous – outside of the comfort zones of the players, listener, and genre. Though each is a free-improvisation, they undermine what we expect of traditions of Free-Jazz, or those more connected with avant-garde Classical Music, which extend from AMM, Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuovo Consonanza, and Musica Elettronica Viva. This is something else. A new music stretching toward the future of the idiom. It bridges abrasive, emotive, and raw sound with pure lyrical musicality – delivered with a remarkable amount of restraint and artistry.
The first duo between Wick and Weber finds the two players entering into a discrete form of call and response. Even at the outside the emotiveness and power of their playing is palpable – two wild animals, bound in rope, circling with snarls. Notes, timbers, and textures punctuate an almost overbearing silence and sense of space. As Wick’s playing shifts between amplified breath, squeals, and shimmering lines of tonality, Weber grinds against him with rhythmic dissonance. At moments it almost feels as though the entire history of Free-Improvisation is being laid bare, stripped, and tumbling at your feet. The second duo with Casey Anderson enters this subtle world on different terms. It begins with Wick weaving his breath into Anderson’s pallet of electronic noise – something like what I imagine the pulsing underbelly of Disney Land to sound like. The harmonic relationships are brilliant and unsettling, before things begin to pick up with Anderson’s entry on saxophone. For the remainder the two weave in and out of each other, responding, and raising the bar. It goes from outright assault, with a raw guttural clamouring, to such discreet interjections that you wonder if they’re ever there.
Since its beginnings, each generation addressing the possibilities of Free-Improvisation has brought something new. Some came from Jazz, some from avant-garde Classical Music, my own generation largely drew on Punk, but there has almost always been an eye on the past – a respectful appreciation for where and why it all began. It was such a radical gesture during its first decades – so transformative, and persuasive, few have been able to see beyond its politic and cultural operation – to shake of the hallmarks, signifiers, and association of sounds, to form something entirely new. To my ear, with Twice Love in my hand, it seems that a young generation might be embarking on the beginnings of such a moment. With a different vision of history, and the legacies of its sounds, they are free from its weight. They hear something different, can see through the cracks, and are finding a way to enter uncharted territory.
Twice Love is one of the most interesting and exciting entries into the world of Free-Improvisation I’ve heard in a while. It joins a slow trickle of releases by young players sculpting a new and exciting world of possibility. It’s a thrilling listen, which has compelled me to return to it contentiously over the short time I’ve had it in my hands. It foreshadows great things for all of its players, and for the label which which has taken the care to bring it into the world. I can’t recommend it enough. Marginal Frequency has taken the admirable stance of not releasing it digitally for the time being – making it only available in its physical form. You can pick up copies from them directly here, listen to a sample of At Bread & Salt with Casey Anderson here, and At The Wulf with Christian Weber here. Jacob is embarking on a September tour of the U.S. next week. I’m posting the dates below. If he makes it to a town near you, I highly recommend checking him out.
september 3: solo // red room (Baltimore, MD)
september 4: solo // bizarre bar (Brooklyn, NY)
september 5: solo // 65Fen (Brooklyn, NY)
september 6: + josh sinton + brandon lopez + devin gray + corey fogel // rosemont (Brooklyn, NY)
september 7: solo // eye gallery (Ithaca, NY)
september 8: solo // house show (Pittsburgh, PA)
september 9: solo // vox populi (Philadelphia, PA)
september 10: solo // sonic circuits festival (Washington, DC)
september 12: solo // mccoll center for the arts (Charlotte, NC) with Battle Trance
september 13: solo // forsythia hall (Asheville, NC)
september 14: solo // neptune’s parlour (Raleigh, NC)
september 15: solo // squidco (Wilmington, NC)
september 17: solo // if art (Columbia, SC) september 20: solo // eyedrum (Atlanta, GA)
september 21: solo // dreamland (Louisville, KY)
september 22: solo // homegrown press studio & gallery (Lexington, KY)
september 23 solo // haffa’s records (Athens, OH)
september 24: solo // the fuse factory (Columbus, OH)
september 25: solo // mahall’s main stage (Cleveland, OH) with the ghost
september 26: solo // house show (Fort Wayne, IN) with the ghost
september 27: solo // canterbury house (Ann Arbor, MI) with the ghost
september 28: solo // the spot (Lafayette, IN)
september 29: solo // elastic (Chicago, IL)