Review: Roscoe Mitchell + Tony Marsh + John Edwards – Improvisations

Improvisations lurches with caution and injury. John Edwards’ double bass babbles for seconds at a time before suddenly falling silent, like someone catching themselves mid-rant prior to spilling something scandalous. Tony Marsh’s drums stomps with the fluidity and balance of a ballet dancer in clogs, sporadically punctuating ungainly movement with heavy hits that feel like doors slamming shut. Roscoe Mitchell’s saxophone deceives with unravelling monologues before switching into ugly brays of screeching brakes, determined to prise apart any cohesive bass/drum interplay that may settle in while his back is turned.

It’s only with patience that I begin to hear the strand of actual momentum zig-zagging its way through a seemingly stop-start improvisatory traffic jam, and while it all feels helplessly fragmented to start with, the trio’s perverse shared interpretation of stream of consciousness seeps through as time passes, with a bastardised grace existing in the stark frictions of positive and negative space. Muscles slump into momentary endings, exhaled breaths flat-pack their host lungs in a mere heartbeat, and yet for all the performance’s clunk and collapse, there is no doubting the fact that each player is intensely transfixed by the characterful motion of the other two.