Naughton may not be a household name in jazz, but he is a highly respected figure in avant-garde circles and this fine session makes it clear why. It is a minor classic, a notable example of the richness of composition that exists within free improv, as well as the beauty that can be created by studied and precise combinations of timbre. Indeed, sonically, this is music that scales sublime heights on occasion as the entwining of vibes, brass and reed has a hazy melancholy that is deeply redolent of the early years of jazz – a virtual meeting of Hampton, Eldridge and Goodman – as well as the more austere detachment of some areas of its evolution. Naughton’s compositions are spacious and uncluttered in the extreme. Furthermore, the frequent breakdown of the band to a duo, as well as the understatement of the players, ensures that the themes, improvisations and overall interplay stand out like gemstones in a mosaic. Naughton and Smith were both in the short-lived CMIF – Creative Music Improviser’s Forum, a non-profit organisation based on the AACM – and their chemistry flows into the session, where the glassy, airy waft of the vibraphone and the heavier swell of the horns grace both lyrical choruses and abstract tone poetry.
Kevin Le Gendre - JazzWise
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