AMN Reviews: Dan Phillips Trio – Divergent Flow (2018; Lizard Breath Records)

This Chicago-based trio consists of bassist Krzysztof Pabian and drummer Tim Daisy joining guitarist Phillips. No strangers to one another, these frequent collaborators share a familiar cohesiveness on Divergent Flow, their debut release.

Phillips works through knotty leads, mostly relying on a clean, undistorted sound that lands somewhere between blues, rock, and outside jazz. Pabian both plucks and bows, deftly accentuating Phillips’ lines while adding flourishes and statements of his own. Daisy’s cymbal-heavy approach rounds out the active rhythm section.

Five composed tracks are each centered around a brief melody or two that gets explored and rounded out spontaneously. The two remaining efforts are freely improvised, but this distinction is largely immaterial. Sure, the composed pieces are somewhat more tuneful than the latter, but neither style results in anything resembling the conventional or routine.

On the title track, for example, after briefly introducing a theme, Phillips spends the rest of the time soloing in an increasingly aggressive fashion over Daisy’s rolling fills and Pabian’s meanderings. Dip exhibits a degree of forethought and structure but is largely improvised and eschews rhythmic repetition. Extricated From, one of the fully-improvised pieces, starts slowly with the trio making judicious use of extended techniques. This builds in terms of complexity and tension over the course of several minutes.

Divergent Flow is a formidable power-trio showcase. Guitar-led improv is not common and it is gratifying to have Phillips and company to add their voices to the mix.