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Track listing:
1. Livin' Large (duo)
2. Liivin' Large (trio)
3. Zephyr Revisited
4. CX3
5. Times That Bond
6. Eel Annod
7. Parabola
8. Empty Now Full

Michael Bisio (bass)
George Muscatello (guitar)
Dean Sharp (drums)

click here for audio samples or to purchase this CD


by Jeff Waggoner

If you are inclined to see free jazz as something careless and unstructured, something like aural splatter painting, then the 2009 download release by bassist Michael Bisio, “Collar City Createology,” might change your mind.

It would be difficult to find a bassist with more precise articulation and a clearer vision than Bisio, and his vision as a leader on this album is brilliantly fulfilled by guitarist George Muscatello and percussionist Dean Sharp.

The fact that this music is “free” requires that the listener get engaged with the sounds. This isn’t your father’s elevator music. But that engagement doesn’t come without its rewards. While the patterns are there, Bisio turns the kaleidoscope often, and active listening is required.

Collar City Createology was released in the winter of 2009, appropriate for this album’s quiet and chilly soulfulness. You can find spare landscapes with solitary, mournful notes provided by Bisio, humming , almost organ-like chords from Muscatello ; and the popping of ice shards by Sharp. The leaves rustle. The crows get cranky.

“Free” isn’t programmatic, but the images are distinct. Close your eyes and you see a landscape or a scene from a movie.

In his program notes, Bisio says that “these pieces reflect my ongoing interest in form, not from its being predetermined but in how it is created and evolves from given material. These works are not ‘free form,’ but are freely formed by the individual and collective consciousness, (and subconsiousness), of the artists involved.

All the compositions are by Bisio, except one, “Parabola,” by George Muscatello. The longest piece, at 11:17min, is CX3, what Bisio describes as a “spontaneous group composition,” is an exceptionally tasty confection of beautiful sounds.

Jeff Waggoner has written book, CD and concert reviews for publications such as Down Beat, Jazz Times, Blues Access and The New York Times.