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Western Free

by Olson St. Clair

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On their debut EP "Western Free," Texas-based free-jazz combo Olson St. Clair explores the boundary waters between genre and anti-genre music. Composers Jeffrey Olson and Michael St. Clair capture the poetic settings of American "western" music - the sweeping emptiness of the high plains, rolling Texas hill-country, blistering desert heat, urbanesque bustle of driven cattle - without relying on genre idioms that would chain the music to time or place. At the same time, they seek to subvert the sonic fabric of early free-jazz recordings while respecting the precedent set by Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, and Pharoah Sanders. The key timbral departure is the addition of monophonic synthesizer to the early-Ornette two-horns-bass-and-drums paradigm. Wiley Greene's swirling Moog acts at times as a third horn conversing with St. Clair's trombone and Dave Sayers' saxophone, while also pulling the band farther afield with brooding textures and soaring gusts of modulated wind. On compositions like Olson's "Bodies in Motian," - a tribute to the late great Paul Motian - Olson and bassist Sam Pankey skirt around each other playfully before settling into a trance-like groove, while "Cats in the Garden" brings the quintet together as a single, though fragmented, voice as they navigate St. Clair's morose and searching melody.

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released February 24, 2021

Michael St. Clair - trombone
Dave Sayers - tenor saxophone
Wiley Greene - moog subsequent-37, yamaha cp-25 on track 5
Sam Pankey - double bass
Jeffrey Olson - drum set
Bob Hoffnar - pedal steel guitar on track 5

produced by Jeffrey Olson and Michael St. Clair
engineered and mixed by Spencer Garland
recorded at the Olson Family Compound, January 2019
mastered by Justin Douglas at King Electric Recording Co.


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Olson St. Clair Austin, Texas

free jazz quintet founded by ATX composers Jeffrey Olson and Michael St. Clair

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