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Working in a different ensemble   altogether, Fields’ playing turns into a different animal altogether. Double trio that he put together sometime around mid 90’s, provides the leader ample opportunity to stretch out as a composer and improviser. Competing with him on guitar is Jeff Parker, while the rhythm section is made up of Jason Roebke and Hans Sturm on bass and Michael Zerang and Hamid Drake on percussion. Best thing is each player has its own channel to play into, thus giving perfect chance to hear point-counterpoint between what the other partner is doing at the same time. Fields here sounds more relaxed. In fact, his playing is akin to his better Music & Arts records from mid 90s. A little on the angular side, but still romping up a healthy dose of all over the map picking. At times bluesy, while other times completely free, it’s difficult to imagine all of these pieces were actually composed. Much of the guitarist’s work sounds somewhat similar to what James Blood Ulmer used to do in the mid 70s. Roebke and Sturm complement each other quite well, shifting between pure arco and some nasty finger picking action, while both percussionists keep a firm beat on the proceedings. Each takes a turn at soloing, while Drake is master of keeping his distinct personality on the record. Originally released in limited quantities on Fields’ own Geode imprint, the record is finally seeing a much deserved reissue. Glowing with a warm heart and ideas to spare, it’s safe to put Dénouement as re-issue of the year so far. — Tom Sekowski,   Gaz-Eta



This may very well be   the year that puts Chicago guitarist Scott Fields firmly on the improvisational map. His Clean Feed Records debut, Beckett, occupies a tense poise between measured and somewhat theatre-inspired movement and free immediacy. Joining him on the tightrope walk are percussionist John Hollenbeck, tenorman Matthias Schubert and cellist Scott Roller. On the heels of Beckett is the reissue of Dénouement, a double-trio recording initially waxed in 1997 for Fields’ tiny, now-defunct Geode label. He’s joined by guitarist Jeff Parker (here in a pre-Thrill Jockey guise), bassists Jason Roebke and Hans Sturm, and drummers Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang (who appeared with bassist Michael Formanek on Fields’ excellent Delmark disc Mamet).

Fields characterizes the music as “the bastard child of King Sunny Adé and Ornette Coleman” and he might not be incorrect in that assertion. Luckily not recorded in mono, each trio is audible in separate yet interweaving channels, Fields, Sturm and Drake on the right and Parker, Roebke and Zerang on the left. From the opening plinks and strums of “Her Children,” plaintive and nearly detuned, Parker and Fields underpin, addend and fragment their own dialogue, a delicate conversation in language about to collapse on itself. Pulled out from dissipation by a seemingly abrupt arrival at martial swing, the twin rhythm sections offer a steadily oppositional groove, basses and guitars walking in contrasts and a unison of throaty grasps, linked mostly by absence. After all, one reason for using two bassists or drummers in opposing rhythms is that the contrast will, rather than stagnate create a third and less deterministic pulse, stemming from “both” and “neither.”

Like musical forebears the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, these lengthy improvisations (albeit with brief written signposts) should be taken as a whole, with individual areas popping out and grabbing one’s senses — dueling arco-ponticello basses catch the ear mightily, percussion hanging overhead in implied fits of near-waltz as Fields and Parker skitter from the front porch to somewhere way, way underground. A charged, fuzzy rock phrase is worried in damning repetition, Sharrock-like overtones brought out as basses, toms and a second guitar both goad and placate. It’s the simultaneity of sounds, phrases and rhythms and their conflicted outcomes — or, rather, the space between these things — that makes Fields’ ensembles work. Luckily for us, this early example of his music is available again.— Clifford Allen,   Paris Transatlantic Magazine



Scott Fields’ compositional world is   forbidding at best, almost impenetrable at worst. Billed as a double trio and actually recorded ten years ago, Dénouement lends itself more easily to immediate comprehension because of the stereo placement of the six players. Additionally, or maybe as a result, the textures are somewhat thinner, or more accessible,than on more recent releases. The opening guitar duo breathes with refreshing transparency, and when the other instruments enter, it is as if each, aware of his doppelganger, is extra careful not to tread on any toes. The compositions themselves, structures rather than always strictly notated, also allow for more space and silence; simply listen to Nothing had been Wrong to spot the aesthetic. A beautiful bass glissando opens a meditative full group exploration, Kline and Parker’s guitar styles of a piece, even combining with high arco playing from the bassists to eerie effect. The album swings and lopes with downright pleasantness, not that any of the sure-fire improvisational prowess of other efforts is sacrificed — far from it! All complement each other quite nicely in what might be described as a harmolodic journey through structured improvisation.— Marc Medwin,   Cadence Magazine



Guitarist and composer Fields assembled   a double trio to interpret the complex nuances of his half-written, half-improvised scores, giving the players circumstantial instructions in order for the compositions to sound like “puzzle pieces,” the six instrumentalists effectively intertwining rhythms and phraseologies yet resulting as a coherent, and ultimately delightful whole. No wonder that this stuff remained unpublished for years, while — to quote the author — “label owners fell in and out of love with the music”: this is fairly difficult material, which in its presumed calmness offers many and one points of observation for a series of crosscurrents mixing modern jazz and quasi-chamber apparitions, spiced by mostly clean-toned if pretty dissonant guitars (Fields and Jeff Parker — yes, Tortoise‘s), elegantly austere, beautifully sustaining basses (Jason Roebke, Hans Sturm), swinging-but-also-pensive drumming (Hamid Drake, Michael Zerang). Divided into seven tracks, whose names are a joy to read — take a look at the full title of “…His late wife…” to have an idea — the 72 minutes of Dénouement do not carry excessive weight at any moment, being instead gifted with considerable musicianship which transports the ensemble towards those heights where the rarefied air of clever interplay is present and easily breathable. Minimal in a way, communicative at various levels, these arrangements show Fields‘ lucid vision and ability to remain within the realms of circuitousness while avoiding those sterile dialectic supplements that uncork the bottles of vintage listlessness typical of dead-end jazz. This is a commendable album to savour delicately, repeatedly, consciously.— Massimo Ricci,   Touching Extremes



This session, featuring two trios   of guitar, bass and drums, was cut in December 1997. Chicago based guitarist Scott Fields hawked the recording around for two years, and the labels that bit either backed out or went broke. In desperation he pressed some copies and issued them through his own short-lived label, called Geode.

It would have been easy for the members of the twin trios to get locked into some kind of contest, but Fields chose colleagues aware and willing enough to co-operate rather than compete, and the two winds of the ensemble dovetail superbly into an integrated unit. Fields’s co-guitarist is Jeff Parker, the bassists are Jason Roebke and Hans Sturm, the drummers Michael Zerang and Hamid Drake: it would be hard to distinguish them in a blindfold test, as the players echo, interweave (and listen to) each other with considerable subtlety.

For the session, Fields devised related but dissimilar pitch sets for the two trios, and specified time signatures equal in length but divided differently. If this suggests the music is dry, it isn’t though it is often contemplative and a little opaque. Those, and there seem to be many, who hated Jeff Parker’s sometime gig in Tortoise and the 2005 Fields/Parker collaboration Song Songs Song (Delmark) are perhaps unlikely to connect with Dénouement, but for my ten cents it’s inventive and consistently engaging.— Barry Witherden,   The Wire



Chicago-based guitarist Scott Fields most   successful projects, such as Mamet (Delmark, 2001), and Beckett (Clean Feed, 2007), offer a novel merger of structured improvisation inspired by literary sources, this album included. Recorded in 1997 and previously available only on Fields’ own tiny Geode label, this session sat dormant for ten years before this Clean Feed reissue.

Dénouement features a unique double ensemble; two electric guitar trios playing in tandem, but rarely in unison. In 1997, Fields’ working trio consisted of bassist Hans Sturm and drummer Hamid Drake. Fellow Midwesterners, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Michael Zerang pilot the second trio with guitarist Jeff Parker. Five years before his solo debut, Like-Coping (Delmark, 2003), Parker demonstrates the lyrical finesse and adventurous risk-taking that has brought him acclaim as part of the new Chicago scene.

Using multiple pitch sets and compound rhythmic figures to create an off-kilter sensibility, Fields creates a complex mosaic of contrapuntal lines and cross-rhythms. Modulating dynamics with nuance and relaxed pacing, the ensemble meanders from austere chamber-esque duets exploring pointillist dialogue to dense collective passages that unfurl knotty tendrils of abstruse commentary fueled by angular, interlocking rhythms. To his credit, these layered compositions feel unforced, belying their structural intricacy.

Intertwining with graceful subtlety, the two trios navigate similar paths without drifting in cacophonous discourse. Drake and Zerang’s elastic rhythms skirt between skittering harmonic accents and fulminating energy, while Roebke and Sturm occasionally alternate techniques, bowing fractured double stops and sonorous arco glisses or plucking metered pizzicato.

Fields and Parker offer a kaleidoscopic array of scintillating tonal colors and subtle electronic textures. Less EFX dependent than many electric guitarists, they rely on sensitivity of touch and phrasing for their sound, rather than twiddling knobs on stomp boxes. Employing a variety of approaches, from pensive, linear patterns to blistering fretwork exuding jittery bursts of atonality, they complement and contrast each other with remarkable restraint and a seething undercurrent of roiling energy.

Fields’ darkly humorous song titles allude to the uncertain resolutions of morose, convoluted narratives, much like his own compositions. Intricate, but not overly esoteric, Dénouement is a welcome reissue and a high water mark in Fields’ varied discography. — Troy Collins,   All About Jazz



The listener is placed in   the midst of a complex of layered dialogues, in which the two guitarists seem most apparent but in which underlying threads of bass and percussion gradually rise to prominence. The levels of clarity and transparency are surprising for a group of this instrumentation, and the ultimate feeling is both abstract and contemplative. —   Stuart Broomer, Coda



The music is marked by   its dynamic sensitivity and unforced flow. The forms are elastic enough for the musicians’ characteristic voices to emerge, but there is far less polarity than empathy between them. While Fields generates some atonal lyricism, almost an extension of Jim Hall, and Parker can insinuate blues connotations into the most abstruse discussion, what stands out is their affinity, the ease of their give-and-take. — Stuart Broomer,   Signal to Noise



Each performer preserves a distinct   identity as the music unfolds. The lines frequently converge as a phrase or harmonic configuration is picked up and echoed in the course of another current, but those nodes never arrest the forward motion, or blur the internal contours of the music. It’s a long album, arguable, after the first few listens, a little too long given its evenness, But it is also insidious, spiked with subtle temptations to play it again. — Julian Cowley,   The Wire



An austere chamber-like atmosphere informs   most of the numbers, augmented by the metallic amplification of the guitars and the muted contrasts between percussion and strings. Together the six move over an angular landscape of fractured melodic fragments, skittering harmonics and lopingly morose themes pausing along the way to sculpt a strong succession of enigmatic improvisations. Those who value music that challenges and incites rumination will find a great deal to decipher in the riddles of Field’s sound collages. — Derek Taylor,   All About Jazz



Publicado en 1999 por el   sello propio del guitarrista Scott Fields, de nombre Geode, Dénouement es reeditado por Clean Feed en 2007. En este álbum, el ensamble adopta la forma de un infrecuente doble trio de guitarra, incluyendo al guitarrista Jeff Parker liderando el segundo trio. Evocando el doble cuarteto con el que Ornette Coleman grabó el seminal Free Jazz, Fields sostiene en las notas que su idea de algo doble son conjuntos en los que uno fuese la imagen del otro reflejada en un espejo, uno en cada canal. Quería gemelos que encajaran como piezas de un rompecabezas. Las composiciones son inasibles, esquivas, estructuralmente complejas y sin resolución aparente, donde los elementos simétricos son yuxtapuestos y enfrentados en singular contrapunto. El tono de los guitarristas es limpio y la interpretación está enraizada en el free jazz, los contrabajistas tienen una fuerte presencia utilizando el arco o el pizzicato y los bateristas mantienen firmemente el pulso sobre intrincados ritmos. four stars—   Jazz en la Web