LOUIS MOHOLO, drums EVAN PARKER, tenor & soprano sax PULE PHETO, piano GIBO PHETO & BARRY GUY, bass
Gateway Studio, England July 1995
While Phule and Gibo Pheto may not be household words among avant jazz fans, the other three members of this ensemble should be well-known to all. The mere presence of drummer Louis Moholo, saxophonist Evan Parker, and bassist Barry Guy should and do guarantee arecording of very high quality. Add to that Gibo Pheto's highly individualized style of bass playing (that's right, two bassists) and the wooly, explosive pianism of Phule Pheto and you have a quintet worth raving about.
Bush Fire is worth raving about for its execution certainly, but more important, it is the defined and near-symbiotic musical relationship between Moholo and Parker -- which drives these proceedings to their insanely feverish pitch -- that is perhaps most astonishing.
Indeed, on each of the ten selections here, it is difficult to tell whom is leading whom, and the identities of the two players seem to become liquid and switch. For Parker's cascading multi-phonics that are at the heart of the title track, "Baobab," and "For Chisa," Moholo rolls through a knotty attack of snare accents and rim shots, only to be followed by Parker screaming a series of arpeggios in return. When Moholo rides the crash cymbal in an 11/18 time signature for a full three minutes on "Flaming July," Parker courses to the top of his ostinato speed with a phrase that is so gnarly it accents the rhythm of the drums. Meanwhile the rest of the band responds, not in kind, but in extremis, trying to keep the dynamics fluctuating and liquid, adding color and space wherever possible and solo as well.
It's a breathtaking ride through the outer edges of free jazz, but it's one so musical, so lyrically brilliant, it could never be repeated. Thank the heavens for this recording. Thom Jurek