I was pretty excited when I had the opportunity book the tenor sax/drums band Jooklo Duo for a live session at WFMU. I've been a fan of their excellent Qbico releases and while together and separately Virginia Genta and David Van Zan have collaborated with many radical free jazz players working today, they seem a bit under the radar for how visceral and intense an experience they deliver. That might be partly from living in the Italian countryside where they're free to develop their raw and constantly searching musical methodology away from sucker influences of the urban elite. If the throw-back version of scree seems outdated to some free music fans, it's their loss; the holy ghosts of ESP-Disk' and BYG/Actuel live in Jooklo's sound, style, and unrepentant forward thrust, a stop-and-you-may-die kind of spiritual commitment to this music and lifestyle. Don Cherry's '70s global wanderings and Taj Mahal Travellers' zoned benevolence may be more appropriate touchpoints to Jooklo Duo, who are open to unruly and authentic musical experiences wherever they happen to occur and in whatever context.
When Virginia asked if we had a piano in WFMU's studio, I wasn't sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised when they brought John Blum along for the tussle. John has released records on Ecstatic Peace, Eremite and the German label Konnex, and played extensively with heavyweights like Milford Graves, Bill Dixon, William Parker, Sunny Murray and Denis Charles. I expected a physical approach to the keyboard but did not anticipate the full history of jazz influences in his playing. I heard the likes Cecil Taylor and Muhal Richard Abrams, yes, but also Jaki Byard (a personal fave) and even all the way back to Art Tatum, Jelly Roll Morton and James P. Johnson (I swear, listen for the stride!). This was the first time these three played together, which was a surprise to learn.
I asked Virginia about the origin of her tenor sound, tough and upfront, but also melodic and unpredictable. She was reluctant to name her favorite sax players. No matter, the playing on this session speaks volumes. Please enjoy!
Thanks to Mark Koch for engineering.