Saxophonist Wally Shoup is a major talent on a new music scene. Drawing
equally from both free jazz and free improvisational notions of freedom, the
Wally Shoup Trio (Reuben Radding on bass and Bob Rees on drums) puts its
unique and overtly emotional stamp on a variety of spontaneous compositions.
Liberating passion from its moorings through a process of writhing
inter-play, the trio weaves sensitivity and harshness into whole-cloth
compositions with equal parts sophistication and gut-bucketry. Unhinged from
convention, the music both defines and follows its own peculiar structures,
giving the Inner Voice a chance to sing loud and clear.
Total time: 65'08.
Wally Shoup, expatriate Southern Tachist-cum-Surrealist, resident of the
Pacific Northwest since the mid 1980s, painter, alto saxophonist, lightning
rod, is one of my generation's premier practitioners of instant composition.
Although his discography is almost perversely obscure, Mr. Shoup has been
absolutely democratic in his associations with various underground music
practitioners. Whether locked into extended musical games with his Alabama
chums (LaDonna Smith and Davey Williams), brandishing fiery musical torches
at Thurston Moore's massed chord scrambles, or forcing percussionist Jeph
Jerman to unlock the energy of the stone, Wally is a tactician of great
charm and immense power. There is also a qualitative inclusiveness and a
wild geniality to his playing style that has too long been absent from the
post-Fire Music tradition. Perhaps this is why even the punks of Seattle
have been so open to receiving his sound. While his technical chops and
compositional gambits can seem daunting, much of his hornwork has a lilting
upful tone that is as inviting as tea on the lawn with Ornette.
In Seattle, Shoup has maintained several mutable combos, perhaps most
notably Project W, whose recordings have garnered much critical praise. For
this lovely session, he has assembled a traditional alto trio, with a young
rhythm section keenly attuned to the peregrinations of his muse.
Bassist Reuben Radding met Shoup during a five year sabbatical he took from
the Downtown NY scene. Living in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Radding played
in as many performance formats as possible, extending the dialectic of his
technique, and soaking up the rain. His beautiful pizzicato solo in
&Peloria& should make his mentor, Mark Dresser, proud, balancing itself, as
it does, between glowing golden melody and rippling waves of power. But Mr.
Radding's most glorious passages are probably those where he switches to
arco mode, effectively doubling the horn line, creating powerful surging
smoke-snakes that curl around and throughout Shoup's alto figures.
Drummer Bob Rees has lately been noted as the most versatile avant garde
percussionist in the region, excelling in every conceivable situation ‹ from
symphony orchestra to free rock and back again. His training and the subtle
calibrations of his ear are constantly in evidence, as he slides from Sunny
Murray sizzles to Bennink-like hardware-clucking to extreme press-pulse
dynamics. And rather than shift between these tropes as some sorta
tune-specific schtick (as so many of his peers seem wont to do), Mr. Rees
throws everything down like a collage, moving sideways through his entire
range, in the course of a single piece if necessary. &Lament& is a case in
point. From the Pan-African opening into a wig-tight, Mid Eastern-sounding
smoke-circle, into mallet-wielding new music clomps, Rees is there, laying
it down with power, beauty and all requisite telepathy.
It is Wally's gig, however; no matter how horizontal the implied focus is
inside this trio, it all comes back to him. And he is in fine form. The mass
and sheer cutting edge of his alto assemblages are unique, and his signature
sound manifests simultaneous forks of rough power and brainy sophistication.
Inside the weird modules of &Peloria& he almost comes off like a rogue
Tristano-ite collaborating with street thugs. For &CorkSkrewed& he is all
extended technique, clucking and splutting in the manner of a cheese-soaked
European. For &Laying Low& he reaches back to his smoky R&B roots, bar
walking elliptically through a lost roadhouse on a street to nowhere. If
Elmore James played alto saxophone and had a taste of psychedelics, he might
well conjure some of the same cracked sonics as Shoup.
Throughout this session, Wally's playing is superb. A combination of brains,
lungs and unknown-tongue-swing that will pick you up and drop you back onto
the curb, puzzled and enriched by forces that erupt from the universal
subconscious, as does all great intuitional art.
With fusillades and lamentations for all.
-- Byron Coley, Jalisco Mexico 2002