127CD - Martin Archer Trio -See You Soon Or See You Sometime - CD plus download

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I have wanted to make a trio recording – that simplest and yet most demanding configuration for any saxophone player – for many years, but had been unable to decide who the other players should be. It was only when I heard Michael’s solo work that I realised that his approach to the bass, combined with Walt’s textural playing, would make the foundation which I was looking for. I wanted a trio sound where the saxophone could inhabit the music from within - as opposed to riding upfront in the role of the soloist hero. However, I chose to play mainly tenor saxophone, (supplemented occasionally by sopranino and saxello) to maximise the contrast between jazzier horn lines versus the more abstract playing from the other instruments. Anyhow, grand concept aside, once we met we just played all day, using some simple notated and graphic scores, plus some ideas generated on the spot. We hope you enjoy the resulting sounds. As ever when I play in this style, I have AACM music in mind. - Martin Archer.


PS - the cover artwork cheekily pinches the style of one of my personal favourite record labels!


Martin Archer - tenor and sopranino saxophones, saxello
Michael Bardon - double bass, cello
Walt Shaw - drums and percussion


If you are interested in Martin Archer, and presumably you are because you’re reading this review, you’ll know that the saxophone maestro has been working with percussionist Walt Shaw for years in various combos. So why is this particular trio album significant? Crucially, saxophone/bass/drums trios are always potentially special, they are the pared down presentation of the ‘art of improv’ – the place where there’s nowhere to hide. From Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman to Evan Parker and Steve Lacy, the trio line-up has produced classic recordings.  This See You album carries the weight of history. Critically Martin Archer/Michael Bardon/Walt Shaw meet the challenge head on, by the time your ears get to the final track, Improvisation In Traditional Form, I promise you’ll hear a superb spontaneous elegy song stirring all those ‘improvising masters’ mentioned above as well as creating enough space to form their own distinct lines of language.  What See You starts with is a fragment piece by Archer, the wonderfully provocatively titled Rotten Star. The little twinkle extends into something close to a regular deconstructed ballad for tenor sax – an almost cubist blues. This is what I like about it; the fact that the leader doesn’t overplay the virtuoso.  These are simply lovely lines hanging like Coleman Hawkins might have hung them back when The Hawk Flies High, but here in Sheffield on 26th August 2021 they’re carried by Bardon’s busy double bass structuralism and Mr Shaw’s simpatico cross-talk into something very contemporary.  Wisely Martin Archer has approached this session clearly sharing the frontline position with his collaborators. To listen to Michael Bardon working fingers and bow across Walt Shaw’s Evabje graphic score is to hear a 21st century man taking up where Barre Phillips left off, turning the bass fiddle into a tuning fork of fractures.  A word about Walt Blues; melody with all the colour of indigo playing like a possible contender for Jazz Record Requests – full of eastern promise it could be an Ellington tune springing from one of Duke’s Far East Suites. It plays into Chime Scene, another Archer notation that has too much abstraction for Paul Gonsalves but plenty of positive ‘Arched’ angular exploration… truly signature sounding.  I know it does not seem to work like this these days but an album such as See You deserves a UK tour with a dozen gigs and a grand final out on London’s South Bank followed up by a five star rating in The Guardian.  See You Soon Martin and Sometime I hope you, Michael and Walt are given the keys to Sheffield… if not the Queen Elizabeth Hall.  - Steve Day, March 2022



Some written annotations, some graphic scores and the ideas emerging from the improvisational interaction. These are the main ingredients of the music of the trio formed by Martin Archer on saxophones, Michael Bardon on double bass and cello and Walt Shaw on drums and percussion. The record is convincing. The 6 tracks offer a sound between free jazz, modernist abstractionism, free improvisation. Here and there the typical riffs of Archer's music are proposed as a supporting structure; in other cases (Walt Blues) it is the form that offers a reference; in still others (Chime Scene) the cultural appeal through the timbre and sound effects proposes an anchor for listening. But in general, and as the title of the last track suggests (Improvisation in Traditional Form) to act as a trait d'union between the songs and as an internal glue to the different tracks is improvisation, precisely in the traditional form of a performance that generates its own normativity through the sound training process. Mixing suspension and incisiveness, dialoguing with attention and responsiveness, exploring sound through its construction, the three musicians manage to bring the listener to the heart of the creative forge of a concert where music is invented by playing it. A nice result. – A G Bertinetto, KATHODIK \https://www.kathodik.org/2022/05/23/archer-bardon-shaw-see-you-soon-or-see-you-sometime/



This is some deep listening.... Martin Archer has a real voice on his instrument..... it deserves your full attention. - Dereck Higgins, online video blog



A classic lineup, not with the sax positioned in the traditional role of the dominant soloist. All three players make their mark in what is often more a group improvisation. Immediately evident in the opening phase of the first improvisation, ‘Rotten Star’. All three equally take part in carefully building up an intertwined conversation. ‘Evabje’ starts in an answer-response manner, with short gestures by Shaw and Bardon as a response to Archer’s statements.   ‘Walt Blues’ is an excellent blues with nice bass lines by Bardon, sometimes in a battle with Archer. ‘See you soon or see you sometime’ kicks off very spirited and exciting. Great interplay and very together. An improvisation with many breathtaking moments. I hope they continue their collaboration as a trio!  - Dolf Mulder, VITAL WEEKLY http://www.vitalweekly.net/1329.html



Featuring Martin Archer on tenor, sopranino & saxello saxes, Michael Bardon on contrabass and Walt Shaw on drums. Saxist, keyboardist, producer & Discus label head, Martin Archer, a long list of projects that he records with. I’ve heard most of these bands/discs and still can’t believe how successful he is at producing so many challenging/fascinating groupings. This is the first sax trio project that Mr. Archer has done and he has obviously put a good deal of thought into its execution. His partners here are Michael Bardon (age 36) on contrabass and Walt Shaw (age 76) on drums. Mr. Bardon has a recent solo bass CD out (on Discus) which shows him to be an most impressive bassist. Walt Shaw has worked with Mr. Archer on several projects (Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere, mainly) as well as with Paul Dunmall and a quartet with Bruce Coates (reviewed here in 2014).  At first I though that this disc would be just another free jazz sax trio session but there quite a bit more going on than that. The cover art is based on the graphics used on all Naxos contemporary classical discs with a picture of an abandoned petrol station in North Wales. I gather that Mr. Archer wants this disc to be taken more seriously and thus be placed on Contemporary Classical section of informed record stores worldwide. There are six pieces here, mostly written by Mr. Archer with a graphic score by Mr. Shaw and closing with a traditional/free improv piece. What I find most interesting is this: on most of the other projects that Mr. Archer has recorded, he rarely gets a chance to stretch out on sax, often playing keyboards, synth, doing arranging, composing and producing for a wide variety of projects. “Rotten Star” is first and we get to hear Mr. Archer on tenor sax, playing warm, cool, sumptuous, Trane-light in tone, with thoughtful yet skeletal playing from the rhythm team. The main theme has a ballad-like melody that the trio play in close harmony. “Evabje” is the graphic score by Walt Shaw (which is displayed in the liner notes) and Mr. Archer is playing sopranino, softly twisting his notes inside-out similar to the way Roscoe Mitchell a sopranino. This piece has a sparse yet focused Braxton-ish overall sound. The title track, “See You Soon Or See You Sometime”, is the long piece here and starts off as a powerful free/jazz tenor sax blow-out, slowly winding down through different freer sections with some strong interplay between all three musicians. “Walt Blues” was written by Mr. Archer & Mr. Bardon and it is a tasty blues song, with a strong bowed bass anchoring that churning ancient sounding melody. The final piece, “Improvisation in Traditional Form” is freely improvised yet we can hear the way this trio works together, connecting the dots as far as direction and development. I’ve listened to this disc several times over the past few weeks and I am enjoying it more and more as I become familiar with the way it unfolds and inspires us serious listeners. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG NYC



Another trio is from the UK. These are musicians less known in these pages, but widely recognizable in those lands, especially the saxophonist, who among many activities also runs a label, indicated as the publisher of this album. Thus: Martin Archer – tenor saxophone, sopranino and saxello, Michael Bardon – double bass and cello, and Walt Shaw – drums and percussion. The musicians have prepared six improvised pieces for us, at least some of which give the impression that they are based on composed material. We do not know when and where these recordings were made, but we do know that they last a total of almost 57 minutes. The first three improvisations, based on open jazz phrasing, are built by artists extremely calmly, very freely, with great attention to sound and dramaturgical details. Archer starts with a tenor saxophone, but often also reaches for lighter versions of the instrument, also during the same piece. The trio seems to create a narrative as if on the foreground of free jazz. Sometimes a step is enough to escape into an interesting expression, but as a rule, everyone is in no hurry here. The story is full of open, untainted by excess sounds of space. Even if the musicians stick to the ballad tempo, they often sew the stitch with quite nervous phrases. When they focus on dynamics, even in the third part, their half-gallops are beautifully defined by the concept of kind of free jazz. A sensitive double bassist usually spins jazz stories here, but when he reaches for the bow, his flow immediately acquires a sensual, intimate aftertaste. Equally stylish here is the drummer, who does not focus only on drumming, but also beautifully colors in any aesthetics. In the second improvisation, the musicians successfully explore sound textures using the question and answer method. In the third, they juggle the pace and techniques of the game in an interesting way, not shying away from unspoken solo exhibitions.  The fourth story escapes into neo-folk melody, and cello and saxello appear in the game. In the last two pieces, the musicians return to the aesthetics of open jazz. They decorate the improvisation with percussion trinkets, they successfully play both on the inhale and when they gently release the reins of expression. Again, they do not shy away from preparation and searching for intimate alleys. In the final part, the double bassist is particularly well realized, who plays the phrases pizzicato and arco in one dramaturgical sequence. A stable tempo gives you a chance to see many nuances and the internal melody of the whole story. ­ - spontaneousmusictribune.blogspot.com/



Archer says he has wanted to make a trio recording for many years but could not decide who to recruit for it until he heard Bardon’s work on The Gift Of Silence (also issued on Discus, Archer’s own label.) With the trio once formed he wanted the saxophone “to inhabit the music from within, as opposed to riding upfront in the role of soloist hero”.  However, he said he chose the tenor as the main horn to “contrast between jazzier horn lines versus the more abstract playing from the other instruments”. This is particularly relevant to the long, episodically varied and sometimes frenzied title track and to some passages in the absorbing Improvisation In Traditional Form, although even on these the trio operates as a balanced and integrated unit very effectively.  Walt Blues is pleasingly funky and slinky, with Bardon providing a strong and solid core using both arco and pizzicato techniques. Chime Scene rings in (sorry) a contrasting approach, freer and more abstract, ranging from hushed passages threaded through with delicate cymbal and gong textures to jagged all-in ruckuses.  Most tracks are launched from simple notated scores, but Improvisation seems to be just that whilst Evabje is derived from Shaw’s graphic score, which is reproduced inside the tri-fold sleeve. I admit I didn’t make much of a connection between that and the music and I’d have interpreted it very differently, but then it’s not my band and not my recording.  Like all the best improvised music (or any music for that matter) this album delivers more from repeated hearings, which it merits. Discus, founded by Mick Beck and Archer, has been going for 28 years and still maintains a steady stream of releases. It is heartening that there are still enterprises such as this that continue to give opportunities for adventurous left-field musicians to record and for fans to hear music such as this. - Barry Witherndon, JAZZ JOURNAL