Open ended jazz playing with no stylistic limits – written scores, graphic scores, improvisation – improvisation which is inclusive of melody and structure – whatever we feel like playing – plenty of space for the music to develop its direction – concentrated and careful listening - ultimately rooted in, and building on the tradition of, pure jazz skill no matter where the music takes us.
Follow Discus Music on Facebook
Martin Archer – saxophones
Kim Macari – trumpet
Laura Cole – piano
Walt Shaw – percussion and live electronics
This is a truly exceptional album from Martin Archer's Discus imprint, with a quartet featuring a veritable cast of some of the most exciting players on the contemporary jazz/improv circuit. See One, Do One, Teach One is a double album, with the CD sleeve advising that "you treat this collection as two separate albums to be heard at different times", and whilst there is a sense of group sound and continuity in these performances there the similarity ends.
The music presented offers up freely improvised pieces that may or may not have a pre-conceived compositional elements alongside music that draws a source of inspiration from graphic charts as opposed to notated scores. As such the two discs differ in as much as much of CD1 is comprised of the preconceived or composed pieces, and CD2 is predominantly improvised. Having said this the soundworld inhabited by the four musicians has a sonic consistency across both discs thus giving the overall impression of two complete performance in two distinct and separate sets.
Martin Archer has put together a quartet that does not simply operate within the confines of a recording studio, but one which is an active working band, and hopefully a work in progress that will continue to develop over an extended period of time. The instrumental combination provides a full and varied tonal palette, with Archer cleverly using the recording studio and post production techniques to enhance the recorded music. This may range from simply overdubbing his bass clarinet parts to the subtle electronic manipulation that is seamlessly integrated with the electronic soundscape of percussionist Walt Shaw, as such to try and discern who is doing what is a somewhat redundant exercise.
What is immediately discernible however, is how all four participants work together as a collective. All instinctively knowing when to contribute, and even adding poignantly to the music by not playing at all, and this is perhaps what makes the music on these two discs so ultimately satisfying. Kim Macari 's trumpet is beautifully full toned, yet the range of slurs and smears she elicits from the horn counteract Archer's more full throttled tenor to great effect. Whether eliciting a gentle melody or exploring the outer reaches of his tenor saxophone through extremes of pitch or multiphonics Archer's playing retains a tightly controlled focus that steers a secure course for his fellow travellers. His sopranino playing is just as intensely focussed when stepping out to solo, and also provides a superb counter voice to Macari's trumpet in delightful dialogues that appear as if from nowhere.
This is also true of pianist, Laura Cole, whose playing on both discs is quite phenomenal. Whether playing solo as she does on the through composed opener, 'Just A Moment In Time' or interacting with her three colleagues in ensembles that can be densely packed sonic excursions or quiet and reflective passages she is often the fulcrum f the music, building bridges between ideas or suggesting harmonic area of interest that can be taken up by Macari or Archer as is deemed most appropriate to the moment. Her commentary is often very subtle, not one to hog the limelight but contributing greatly to the group sound. This even extends to the long passages where the piano sits out, only to to sound so good when it once again returns. This side of Cole's musical persona is new to this reviewer and bodes well for the solo piano recording that is currently in preparation, and will also be released on Discus Music.
Overall a superb album that deserves to be widely heard, and a quartet that should be on everyone's radar to catch live. Contemporary composition/improv does not get much better than this. - Nick Lea JAZZ VIEWS
Deep Tide Quartet suggest that this double CD set should be listened to as two separate albums at different times; and indeed it does feel like witnessing a couple of well-paced concerts in intimate venues due to the close recording. The quartet are Discus label founder Martin Archer on saxes and bass clarinet, Laura Cole on piano, Kim Macari on trumpet, and Walt Shaw on percussion and electronics, all with pedigrees too long to list here.
The group play a mixture of compositions and improvisations, and graphic scores and jams later restructured in the studio by Archer, in a deliberately open-ended remit with, in his words, “no stylistic limitations”. This sort of approach is exemplified by “Song For Gato Barbieri”. It begins with a theme by Shaw that gradually swells into a vertically layered improvisation, which displays raw lyricism and a remarkable intra-group empathy. Sometimes, in a improvisation like “Deep Tide”, the players state melodic and rhythmic motifs, which they then repeat or modify to give the feel of a spontaneous composition.
If the group have a signature it’s their use of breathing space, with musicians, all exceptional listeners, happy to drop out for long periods as and when appropriate. “I Am Here / Phone In Rice 1” is a directed improvisation by Cole that’s based on a series of her photos. This results in a lengthy, episodic piece with the ensemble nibbling on one or two notes before dropping into near silence, cut with outbursts of red-blooded playing, including the most avian sax solo one could hope to hear. By contrast the improvised “The Self-Threading Needle” features some powerful group playing that hints obliquely at Latin American and Iberian themes.
The title track, an Archer composition, is one of the set’s most compelling pieces and is beautifully played by all. Shaw’s tumbling rhythms, with their flickering fine details, delineate considerable spaces, into which the brass sporadically enter and leave playing sombre themes, which are garnished by Cole’s clusters of high piano notes. – Mike Barnes THE WIRE.
This album is the third in the series of ‘Quartet’ albums that Martin Archer has released on the Discus label. Not only is it a double CD package, this specific line-up is the one that Mr Archer is putting out on the road. There’s also a note that states: “We suggest you treat this collection as two separate albums to be heard at different times.” Taking them at their word I’m writing about disc B first. Why? When I first got into music I always began with the B-side – Stone Free, which backed Hendrix’s debut single Hey Joe, was definitely the real all-day anthem. Reelin’ Feelin’ Squeelin’ was the weirdly wonderful B-side to Soft Machine’s first (pop) ‘45’ Love Makes Sweet Music.
Put on Deep Tide Quartet’s B disk and the first thing you come up against is the gigantic drone of Song For Gato Barbieri; piano clanging against electronics and fuzz scraping in a vice. Then comes Martin Archer, playing tenor saxophone instead of his usual (sic) alto. And for sure he could almost get away with passing himself off as the authentic Argentinean tenor maestro at Passport Control - if it was solely down to the sound of his horn. Heaven help the boy, this needs to be played as loud as your neighbours can stand it. Awesome.
What comes next is the self titled Deep Tide, an improvisation which begins eerily, oscillating electrics which almost gradually disappear from the ear, except for a rippling drift like a tide washing up on shingle. Tenor and trumpet enter debating nonsense, not so much arguing as feeding off each other’s amazement that they are in such deep water. I first came across Kim Macari and her trumpet when she played with Archer on last year’s magnificent Story Tellers album. The two horn deal of Deep Tide Quartet is one of the key ingredients of this new recording. Archer/Macari squash up their harmonies together, often breaking out in a duet solo (if you get my meaning). On DC Blues, they parade across the ears like a two-person cortege for ghosts. The blues came to Sheffield and they called it the Deep Tide Horns.
I Am Here/Phone#2 is ‘written’ by pianist, Laura Cole. It sounds like an improvised investigation built on open doom chords. There are all kinds of small sounds, a short exposé, comments and filigree, probably ‘cut-up’, plus Mr Archer’s sopranino comes into play along with a ‘treated’ tenor (at least I assume it’s had some sound manipulation). This could be an extension of I Am Here/Phone#1 from disk A. It is the only track which has a title common to both ‘albums’. They are related though they could be distant cousins. The Imploder, Fishers And Farmers, Twopenny Hitch, Crackerjacker Favours are all improvisations. They could be pre-composed but in fact ARE compositions in the sense that each is placed one after another, grafted together to make up a relationship. The Imploder is almost a drum clinic; part Art Blakey, part Han Bennick, and I guess all Walt Shaw. Laura Cole’s piano is... well, it implodes! And Martin Archer even finds a melodic riff to add to the mix that might be a message from the Jazz Messengers. F&F and Twopenny Hitch morph into a dedicated Art Ensemble Of Sheffield; circular Sirus sopranino (F&F), low-fi electronics (Hitch). In Crackerjack Favours Laura Cole’s piano creeps up on the two horns. She takes time tying a knot in which to bind them, only to find Mr Archer plays Harry Houdini, escaping with his tenor into another territory. There’s a residue of music left in the keyboard. The piano talks under the trumpet as if translating what’s gone before. Crackjack wins a prize. It ends without hurry, complete and utterly spellbinding.
A word about Walt Shaw. He’s a long time wild card collaborator on Archer projects - Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere and Engine Room Favourites. His percussion installation is usually somewhere between a vast, or small stack, of stuff to hit. Usually there’s no bass drum. What a percussionist chooses not to use is as important as what he does. Remember this is a quartet without a bass player. One of Mr Shaw’s other regular bands is WHM, a trio with no bassist. The track Migration/Flight comes from his larger graphic score series Migration (see Shaw with the Birmingham Improvisers Orchestra). The Deep Tide Quartet treat their particular Migration like opening a vein. A hard scalded wound, scrapings through a contact mic, over-blown reeds, a form of exorcism with cheap rich pickings and no bottom; I love it. The final two minutes on the B disc is Wayne’s World. It is a bright new day, melody with chords, time signature, a hummable refrain – and a fade out ending after a couple of minutes. It’s all that’s required. But of course this is not the end, I’ve been saving the A disc for that role.
The A disc begins with Just A Moment In Time a short Archer/Cole written-through composition played alone by Laura Cole, her piano peeling off the melody as if preparing to dive into the depths. Which is exactly what she is about to do. I can reveal that an hour later the whole Deep Tide Quartet bring disc A to a close with One More Moment In Time. The same tune, still written through, still less than two and half minutes, and as conventionally beautiful as the Laura Cole solo performance which began the album (except for those of us who, the day before, took matters into their own hands and played the B disc first). Between the two Moment ‘chamber’ pieces, the other nine tracks are all improvisations one way or another. ‘Graphic scores’ are used for Kim Macari’s Arundel#1 and Arundel#2 as well as Walt Shaw’s The Anne Tree. There’s a series of photographs used to direct the improv on I Am Here/Phone In Rice#1, and three additional Martin Archer tracks clearly have their roots in improv, with compositional elements added. Two other tracks play-out as spontaneously evolving-in-any-direction improv.
‘Graphic scores’ are an imprecise art. They act as a visual stimulus but they don’t necessarily stipulate notes, keys and all the other condiments that make up music. Graphics are starting blocks that signal the direction of creative ....improv. And hey, Walt Shaw has no bass drum because he’s playing across the music not punctuating it with a predetermined time count (I didn’t ask him, but it’s what I hear).
I gotta tell yer, both these discs are one big adventure. Disc B fires Song For Gato Barbieri as an accurate bull’s eye from the start. It influenced my perspective on all that followed. Disc A nurtures eleven tracks that grow out of their individual Moment(s) In Time. ‘Each one’ is See One, Do One, Teach One, adding up to ‘Hear eleven ones’! During the Sandy Brown Jazz 2017 summer Martin Archer provided the guest appearance in the Editor’s ‘Tea Break’ conversation. It was, in my opinion, the most interesting chat we’ve had on the website. The current crop of albums flowing out of his Discus label represent some kind of high. Discus is to Sheffield what Motown was to Detroit, Blue Note to New York and ECM to Munich. I tell it like I hear it, See One, Do One, Teach One is yet another fabulous thing. Buy one. - Steve Day SANDY BROWN JAZZ