Cast of Thousands cs353









[…] With their nine-track CD stretched over 61 minutes, Glasgow-based alto saxophonist Raymond MacDonald and Edinburgh-based tenor saxophonist Graeme Wilson have more space in which to try out varied strategies. Swelling modulations and tensile vibrations are available from the saxophonists, both of whom are also affiliated with the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra and are noted academics, but balladic investigations aren’t neglected either. Like a domesticated pooch facing an untrained canine which the first wins over with calmness, “Thawing Out” for example starts with a combination of Wilson’s tongue slaps and MacDonald’s melodic exposition, with the tenor saxophonist’s in-between note squeals smoothed and harmonized with the alto saxophone line by the end. In another instance on “Slinking” sharpened altissimo cries and distracted air blowing into the body tune from individual horn players evolve into an alto saxophone aside that threatens to become “God Bless the Child”, as the tenor saxophonist splatters timbres so that a ghostly echo of “Wade in the Water” is advanced. Evan as episodes of circular breathing and constricted reed yelps follow as they move up the scale, the piece retains its harmonies, never becoming completely free. It’s as if it’s caterpillar and butterfly simultaneously. Other interjections range from reed stutters to searing snorts to improvising a half-step apart abound within the partnership. However for comic relief, “Bongo Billy Up a Tree” is another stand out, adding honks, pops and reverb to the narrative for a joyous upsurge, as the tonal focus remains. Distinctively and despite its title, “Romance Is Not Dead” is the CD’s most atonal and microtonal selection, where what could be whines from an unscrewed mouthpiece and reed snorts build up into a multi-hued theme of pitch-sliding variables. Overlapping sounds cement the interaction, which vibrates into silence, while not neglecting controlled movement. […] Ken Waxman (JazzWord)