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The Psyche

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The Psyche album cover
Album Information

Total Tracks: 3   Total Length: 47:11

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Wondering Sound

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Steve Smith


Revolutionary Ensemble, The Psyche
2004 | Label: Mutable Music / The Orchard

Revolutionary in more ways than one. The combination of violinist Leroy Jenkins, bassist Sirone and percussionist Jerome Cooper was a model of democratic interaction. Each member offers a composition on The Psyche, a self-released album nearly impossible to find until the Mutable label rescued it from oblivion in 2004. “The Invasion,” by Cooper, demonstrates the group's knack for sustaining interest over long stretches with a chamber-music sense of organization; Sirone's “Hu-Man” offers bluesy swing,… read more »

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"Col Legno" is the kind of performance on which great band reputations are built. As Sirone hauls enormous, rip-sawing drones from his bass using the eponymous technique of striking its strings with the wood rather than the "hair" of his bow, Jenkins plays melodies that are both seductive and funky in the best AACM tradition. What is fundamentally a very simple, even minimal idea goads these three musicians into performances of marvelous textural, gestural, rhythmic, and harmonic complexity. The piece concludes with an arco solo from Sirone that is suffused with strontium-90 sunset hues. Gradually, the tiniest shafts of blue and white break through these garish bands of orange, pink, brown and purple in the form of high, delicate violin tones. Cooper introduces a press roll that overtakes the trio, and the piece ends not with complete darkness, but in a preserved twilight. (More? See: http://www.onefinalnote.com/reviews/r/revolutionary-ensemble/psyche.asp)

They Say All Music Guide

The Revolutionary Ensemble were an extraordinary trio who unfortunately has a very limited discography, and what they did record is rather difficult to find. The Psyche is a case in point, released in 1975 on the small, self-produced RE: Records label and, as of 2002, unavailable on disc. It’s a superb performance, however, consisting of three compositions, one by each group member, and can serve as a microcosm of what the band was about. Drummer Jerome Cooper was always the most concerned with extended and complex compositions. His lengthy “Invasion,” which occupies side one of the album, is an episodic suite where the solos are integral to the piece’s structure, not simply improvisations spun off of riffs. Even with the “limited” palette of violin, bass, and percussion (plus the composer on piano for a bit), Cooper is able to conjure forth a unique and fascinating sound world allowing both a clear exposition of his ideas as well as offering the personalities of the musicians to shine. Leroy Jenkins, the most soulful and bluesy of avant-garde jazz violinists, takes special advantage here in his extremely lovely solo feature. Sirone’s “Hu-Man” is a freewheeling piece with an implied cadence as natural as rolling down a hill, but also with a melancholy theme once again driving directly to Jenkins’ strength as he wrenches out another powerful, blues-drenched solo. Jenkins’ own “Collegno” is a gorgeous and delicate work, giving lie to the notion that bands like this were only about screeching. Using the lightest of frameworks, the trio limns an exceedingly fine tracery of clearly etched yet breathtakingly fragile improvisations, never drifting very far from the feeling established at the outset until Sirone embarks on an arco solo that may threaten the integrity of one’s woofers. The Psyche is a very fine recording by a wonderful and underrecorded trio; snatch it up if you’re lucky enough to come across it. – Brian Olewnick

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