AMN Reviews: Andrew Cheetham & Alan Wilkinson – The Vortex of Past Time (2020; New Wave of Jazz)

Percussionist Cheetham and reedist Wilkinson, veteran improvisers of the UK scene, collaborate here on four tracks of dense explorations. Ostensibly “free jazz”, the album features the push and pull of that rough genre between creativity and control. Wilkinson trades off saxes and clarinet (but mostly saxes), and has a wailing, punctuated style with rich textures and colors. Cheetham is busy on and off the drum kit, bringing into the fore various objects to generate multi-rhythmic and arhythmic rattlings.

Across four tracks (two of which are in the 20-minute range), Wilkinson provides rolling lines and oscillations with staccato bursts. This combines well with Cheetham’s aggressive cymbal-work. But when not going all out, this duo slows things down to a more atmospheric level with distorted drones over unstructured drum patterns, and the occasional tortured vocalizations from Wilkinson.

This is very much a “live in the studio” recording that could have easily passed as a live performance. The Vortex of Past Time comes out on April 15.