in performance: wrest

jack wright of wrest.

jack wright of wrest.

It seemed strangely fitting that the final word at last night’s performance from the free jazz trio Wrest at the Bryan Ave. performance space formerly occupied by The Bazaar should come from the streets.

After two spacious, set-long improvisations that often sounded like distinct yet complimentary monologues, veteran Eastern Pennsylvania improviser Jack Wright started to wind down the evening with patient but puncturing jabs on alto saxophone that triggered guttural sounds more indicative of a tenor. Having initiated numerous squall-like effects and clarion call rings earlier in the set, his final alto run was like an exhale, an approachable coda to a performance loaded with dissonant immediacy.

Then you heard it. With the door to the now-nameless venue open, the quiet of a spring Saturday evening was interrupted by an automobile that plowed down North Limestone. The trio – completed by percussionist Ben Bennett and bassist Evan Lipson – held the   concert’s gradual disassembly as the car roared with an even longer fade into the night. It was a finale as unexpected as the rest of the performance.

In the first of six recently announced programs to be presented by the Outside the Spotlights Series and WRFL-FM over the next two months, Wrest offered what could best be described as purposeful abstraction. Nothing from the stage simulated even a fractured groove or rhythm with all three players shifting between stunning tone and animalistic expressions seemingly intent on working against the instruments’ inherent voices.

Lipson attached clothes pins to his strings and slapped his acoustic bass with a drumstick, but would also create a quiet, punctuated richness when playing under his bandmates. Bennett sat on the floor with a series of small drum heads, what appeared to be a bodhran and pair of bricklaying trowels used as cymbals. There was also a tin can with a latex glove stretched as a lid that he blew into for sounds that oddly harmonized with Wright’s more caustic playing.

Wright anchored the performance on alto and soprano saxophones. While just as adventuresome as his co-horts (he used his leg to muffle a few alto blasts and, briefly played the soprano against the stage floor), Wright largely avoided expected free jazz turns of volume, intensity and speed. He instead luxuriated in all the discoveries around him, seemingly intent on enjoying the pace and purpose of this journey into bedlam.

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