BOB MARSH / JIM RYAN / SPIRIT – The Spirit Moves Us


The Spirit Moves Us fuses three chief practitioners of free interplay of San Francisco’s Bay Area in a completely spontaneous session recorded in May 2009. The recording gives the idea of a single microphone take, lots of natural reverberations surrounding the ceaseless spurts and fluxes generated by these stray combatants. The title is obviously borrowed from percussionist Spirit, who characterizes the procedures quite effectively via a complete redesigning of the essential concepts of rhythm, which gets literally pulverized into minuscule scraps useful for every occurrence. Over this extreme fragmentation, Jim Ryan confirms a typically wide-minded approach to phrasing, inserting zigzagging splinters of serenity, reflective quirkiness and slight scents of primitive rites amidst a continuous melodic fluctuation that – either through saxophone or flute – keeps defining him as a singular reed player not easily fitting in categories (unless we want to include “semi-principled liberty” among them). Marsh’s cello often sounds deep and cavernous like a double bass. I don’t know if this comes from the use of pitch transposing devices (the trio seems to recur to digital delay regularly and gladly), but the result makes one think nonfigurative painting rather than chamber music. His arco discernment locates supplies of interesting colours mating with the rest of the timbral palette well enough to sustain our interest for a fair while. Infrequent spots of improvisational tiredness are present, yet they get negated by the artists’ irrefutable integrity.

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