Infinitesimal Flash

This quartet featuring Danish-Congolese saxophonist John Tchicai and
Chinese-American tenor saxophonist Francis Wong works at the cross- roads of
Asian-American and African-American jazz, where some of the most provocative
American music is happening today. The tunes – split among Wong’s
Chinese-influenced originals, Tchicai’s African-flavored tunes, and musical
abstractions accompanying metaphysical poetry – tackle big cultural and
spiritual issues, but they dance and swing, too.
The broad reach of the music offers plenty of opportunities for
cross-pollination of ideas, a variety of rhythmic approaches, and democratic
music making in which everyone contributes equally. Tchicai and Wong are
well-matched, with just enough in common to work naturally together and
enough individual interests to provide contrast. Tchicai, a veteran of the
’60s New York avant garde who is enjoying a resurgence of interest in the
states, builds sfiolos in small increments, starting from short melodic
kernels. On “Kippiology” and “Melvin Truss,” his strangely logical
constructions with their speechlike phrasing, sound eerily like the human
Wong plays with a strong, clear tone and favors longer lines with more
complex contours than the stark outlines of Tchicai. On tunes like “T’s
Groove” and “The Boat Is Ready,” he works with the underlying beat or cross
cuts against it in beautifully paced solos that build to explosive climaxes.
Their complementary styles blend well in fluid, interlocking collective
improvisations on “Persistence” and “Alisha.” Bassist Adam Lane and drummer
Mat Marucci are relaxed and quick-witted; they tackle the grooves and vamps
in Tchicai’s compositions and the more spacious abstractions of the
word-and-music pieces with equal relish, and help the music flow wherever it
needs to. This is a small group with large ambitions, and they make music
for mind and body alike.