On Barclay, the third in a series of Scott Fields releases inspired by Samuel Becket, guitarist and composer Fields is joined by Matthias Schubert (tenor saxophone), Scott Roller (cello), and Dominik Mahnig (percussion). The result is a fine and playful take on contemporary free jazz. In ways, it evokes the abstract and fragmented marches of Anthony Braxton and his prodigy. In other ways, it is more melodic, less densely layered, and more rooted in a jazz vernacular, and, in that sense, fits right in with some of the label’s recent ensemble releases from Marc Ducret and Joelle Leandre.
Fields and co. do not shy from rests and silence. Rather, they effectively integrate frequent stops and starts, unpredictable wends and wafts into their compositions. Barclay’s three tracks are composed of brief phrases, woven together into calico tapestries of sharp, syncopated bursts of energy and harmony. Rather than flowing smoothly, the first track, “Krapp’s Last Take,” sounds as if the musicians are carving their song out of a craggy medium rather than constructing it from the inside out. Track two, “…but the clouds…” develops more organically around a series of guitar and saxophone melodies, but nevertheless remains stilted and jarring. The closer, “Catastrophe,” similarly grows around a series of truncated melodic runs overlaid with ambient clicks, whistles, and percussive fluttering, though to a slightly smoother effect. This is complex and exciting music. It is, as the third title indicates, a catastrophe, but in the word’s older sense of sudden, unexpected twists and turns. A fitting homage to Beckett and a fine addition to the Ayler catalogue. — Free Jazz Blog