DIKEMAN/NOBLE/SERRIES – Obscure Fluctuations (LP/CD, Trost Records)
“U.S. musicians frequently expatriate to Europe to gain more appreciation and opportunities: think of Benny Carter and Coleman Hawkins in the ‘30s or Steve Lacy and Nathan Davis in the ‘60s. But with the idea of American jazz superiority as outmoded as some aspects of U.S. foreign policy, improvisers are leaving this continent to become part of a vibrant multinational musical culture. Take Wyoming-raised, Amsterdam- based tenor saxophonist John Dikeman. His European- honed dexterity allows him to interact with the best, from Americans Hamid Drake and William Parker to the European crews presented here. These CDs are as planted in the ongoing free jazz genre as an onion is in
the soil. But, as when a harvested onion is peeled, each reveals different aspects of Dikeman’s art.
London-recorded Obscure Fluctuations won’t be obscure to free music devotees. Said fluctuations emanate from the guitar of Belgian Dirk Serries, whose decades-old allegiance to noise, digital and avant rock is tempered with improvisational smarts. Drummer Steve Noble, a British version of Drake with protean experience, completes the trio. On two extended improvisations the band projects musical chiaroscuro, highlighting passages of lightness and dark, delicacy and coarseness, in equal measure. “The Heart Strips Bare” is particularly desiccated. Flat-line reed buzzes and string slaps stream together into a hypnotic narrative as if traversing acres of unvarying desert scenery. Dikeman’s querulous multiphonics are more evident on “From the Assent to Refusal”, as the trio works to a crescendo that attains spectacular son et lumière communication. Noble’s percussion pressure and Serries’ string slashes meld with Dikeman’s petulant cries to produce a squirming, inchoate mass. From then on guitar plinks, cymbal vibrations and reed split-tones slice individual timbres off the narrative, until the piece fades to reassuring concordance.” Ken Waxman/The New York City Jazz Record – USA