Freedom Of The City 2002 (Spa)


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Review Text Freedom of the City 2002 is the London Improvisers Orchestra's third "official" album (because the two-CD set Freedom of the City 2001: Large Groups, on which the LIO has 90 minutes of music, should count as their "real" third album). The seven pieces presented here have been taken from the performance at the 2002 Freedom of the City Festival. While not strong enough to top the studio set The Hearing Continues, this album still lives up to expectations and delivers a hearty 77 minutes of focused group improvisation to prove once more than this ensemble is unique (yes, the star-studded roaster speaks for itself, although it goes way beyond that) and that large-scale structured improvisation is possible after all. Simon H. Fell's "Too Busy" adds pre-recorded sounds to the orchestra, but the blend is seamless and the piece ranks as a highlight -- thanks to the laboratory that is the LIO; Fell is becoming a first-rate composer for improvisers. "Ruthless" features an energetic Terry Day spitting out a poem about punk attitude and the temptation of fame. The piece gets almost violently eventful. A bit disappointing is the "Concerto for Paul Rutherford," part of Steve Beresford's ongoing series of improvised "conductions" with a featured soloist. The trombonist develops a nice parallel discourse, but somehow the piece lacks some spirit. Paul Rutherford's own "Phone In" is much more interesting, and not only because it takes a bite at the existence of mobile phones by using them -- actually, the short phone episode two-thirds in is its weakest feature. The piece has stamina, movement, and wittiness, all core qualities of the LIO. Dave Tucker's unusually quiet "Giallo," essentially an 11-minute crescendo, also deserves mention: however simple the idea, Tucker leads the orchestra through it with brio, reaching a riveting finale. ~ François Couture

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Too Busy - 16:29
  2. 2. Ruthless - 7:12
  3. 3. Concerto for Paul Rutherford - 17:55
  4. 4. Mamosa - 9:56
  5. 5. Phone In - 12:54
  6. 6. Giallo - 11:51
  7. 7. Fanfare for L I O - 5:02

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