Abstract (adj.): Existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.
Tangible (adj.): Perceptible by touch
Tenor saxophonist Patrick Breiner‘s music is not abstract, yet tangible, it is very strongly both of those things simultaneously. Last night, as with every time I listen to any of Breiner’s groundbreaking groups, I learn something about myself or the world around me. Breiner is an artist who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable. Breiner’s great teacher, Tony Malaby, once asked him “have you ever tried to sound like a wounded animal?” This sentiment seems to be ever present in Breiner’s work. When he plays, he bears his soul to the audience and curious onlookers have no choice but to be swept up in it. It’s his enthusiasm and the fearlessness that are so enticing. Once we has drawn his audience in, he can lead them anywhere: marching boldly through landscapes yet unseen. And while the images he evokes retain a level of abstraction, they also engulf us like a wave and we are beckoned to swim to the darkest and fiercest depths.
Double Double features two bassists: Adam Hopkins and Will McEvoy. Both bring intense energy, concentrate bursts, cross-cutting bow work. If the bass is the heartbeat of an ensemble, here we get a double dose of vitality. Hopkins and McEvoy never seem to tangle with each other and rather they seem to provide each other space, when needed, but also dive and surge around each other when directly engaged with one another. Dancing upon this energy field is drummer Flin van Hemmen, doing some of his most impressive work to date. The Netherlands-born percussionist draws constant connections with the other three players, crisply delivering his sparks above the surging deep beneath.
Last night’s hour-long piece, “Sing, Blow, Whistle” came with those three simple instructions. From that, the band displayed a remarkable emotional cohesion, led by Breiner. When he surged, the band countered, when he took a mournful turn, they followed suit. In the final part of the piece, each instrument became a wind instrument–adding breath to the heartbeat that had carried us along on the journey. Double Double released its first record in April of this year, Mileage. Indeed the band has already come a long way as the title suggests. But even in the past six months, they have reached a new level of mutual understanding and have given us every indication that that they will continue their intrepid push further into the unknown.
Thanks to James Carney for organizing this wonderful series at Korzo in Brooklyn.
–Cisco Bradley, October 1, 2014