This double CD set contains two versions of the same piece. The first performance occurred on May 5, 2015 at The Lescar in Sheffield; besides Linda Sharrock’s vocals and Mario Rechtern’s reeds, it features Derek Saw (trumpet), John Jasnoch (guitar) and Charlie Collins (drums). Fifteen days later in a studio of Issy-Les-Moulineaux, Sharrock and Rechtern gathered a larger ensemble comprising Itaru Oki (trumpet), Eric Zinman (piano), Makoto Sato (drums), Yoram Rosilio (bass), Claude Parle (accordion) and Cyprien Busolini (violin). Listing all the participants appears the correct thing to do, for this music is an excellent sample of collective free jazz animated by an ancient spirit. The live session is perhaps the most raw and brutal, whereas the studio recording is variegated in terms of timbres, and relentlessly cathartic in its unequivocal energy. Overall, the quiet spots are few and far between.
Falling into commonplace when talking about Sharrock is easy. Her current vocalism — after the stroke which left her partially disabled in 2009 — is not for the faint of heart. She often screams to the point of making us feel her lungs shake, sometimes almost in a beastly manner. Those climaxes are usually preceded by emissions ranging from basic probing — like little children do when testing their young cords — to alarmed glissando, to peculiar punctuations as to comment what the other musicians are doing. Practically speaking, she has involuntarily applied Joan LaBarbara’s principle (“the voice is the original instrument”) to a concrete necessity. No word is sung; just those long, strong, desperate, raging outbursts that mean much more than a chain of “revolutionary” sentences. The cohesion among the players is remarkable: contrapuntal subplots, intersecting solos, frantic chords, sections where a joint cry against all kinds of iniquity seems to emerge. But — it goes without saying — Sharrock’s ferociousness is what keeps demanding our attention. A reminder of how life can kick anyone in the face, putting a human being down in a matter of seconds; but, especially, an example of gut reaction derived from a primal instinct of survival. Similarly to her late husband Sonny, Linda Sharrock is a true fighter; observing how she counterpunches adversity is nothing short of inspiring.