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Madison, Wisconsin acoustic guitarist Scott   Fields, Vancouver, Canada clarinetist Fran├žois Houle, and Ann Arbor, Michigan bassist Jason Roebke get together for 18 selections that have little to do with the title. Where you would expect polyphonic buzzing, you instead hear patient, respectful free improvisation, generally without time signatures, reflecting a deep emotional and spiritual center. Fields has quite a clean tone, reminiscent of Ralph Towner sans harmonics; Houle is very tonal and melodic; while Roebke ably fills in cracks, sets occasional rhythmic preludes, and gives the other two a sounding board to bounce ideas off of. Five of the pieces are spontaneous compositions: “Fur” is a skittish shortie; “Furrier” is calm and loose; “Furious” is a snippet more steaming than livid; “Former” is reflective, and “For Her” is searching. Houle’s compositions exude sheer beauty. “Second Degree of Light” features Roebke’s two-note bass ostinato buoying a meditative guitar and clarinet; “Alliance” has a fluttery clarinet, with bass and guitar swirling about, and “Sheridan Snow” shows Houle in a pensive mood. Roebke also proves an intriguing composer. His “Last Long Love” has a beauty that rivals “Second Degree of Light”; “Places” displays the most melodic invention on this disc, but moves into pure improv; “In Life” works in an intro bass that sets up Houle’s introspective clarinet; while “When She Speaks, She Speaks” is more hyperactive. Fields does not stick to tonality. His piece “You Call That Constructive Criticism?” is a near-14-minute excursion through many changes, variations, and phases of improvisation, with raked guitar and overblown clarinet sounds. “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been…” has sawing bass and clarinet-pad pops leading to a choppy march beat. “Put That Hose Away" again returns to melodic interplay, with clarinet on top. The spontaneity of the trio has an edge, yet is eminently listenable. There’s some real-world psychodrama and even-keeled peacefulness taking place throughout this fine recording, which sports a vision and clarity lacking in the some of the noisier, less musical avant-garde. Recommended. 3 stars — Michael G. Nastos,   All Music



Overall, Hornets Collage is lyrical,   enduring, spacious yet subtly captivating as the Trio pursue layered themes and sweet-tempered choruses while the music breathes life and conjures up vivid imagery proportionate to an impressionist painter of landscapes or dreams…. Hornets Collage is an authentic synthesis of interminable patterns as the musicians keenly and vividly conceptualize the notions of nature, hard at work. Recommended! 4 stars — Glenn Astarita,   All About Jazz



The affinity isn’t about particulars,   but rather the quiet intimacy, economy and evanescent lyricism (both composed and improvised) of this remarkable group. Fields’ classical guitar playing is just that, richly sonorous, bell-like and subtly nuanced, and the three-way playing here is a continuous weave of thoughtful linear threads. — Stuart Broomer,   Coda



Like all CDs on the   nuscope label, this one is extremely well recorded, so one can rapt attention to the smallest or quietest detail. From ultra sparse sections to busy portions, there is an absorbing thread that holds this all together. “When She Speaks…” recalls that quirky Giuffre type of excursion with tight little flashes of notes that quickly erupt. Five of these pieces are collective improvs and each is an adventure unto itself, open ended, boisterous and mysterious, yet somehow connected through deep listening and reacting. The majority of these pieces are (well) written and involve a variety of strategies and textures. Concentrated, thoughtful and provocative sounds to ponder. — Bruce Lee Gallanter,   Downtown Music Gallery



A chamber music delicacy in   the improvisations cloaks an underlying incisiveness, which in turn cleaves cleanly through airs of pretension. Roebke’s supple bass is the rhythmic fulcrum for the group. His crisply plucked lines ripple outward and surround the music in gentle waves of aqueous support. Field’s choice to employ only acoustic strings is essential to the group’s sonic palette. Even without the aid of amplification, he devises a startling display of guitar techniques, everything from jangling string-bending discord to dulcet lyricism. — Derek Taylor,   Cadence Magazine