Austin saxophonist/composer Carl Smith remains a tenacious champion of improvised music. Hosting countless live shows locally over a dozen years with ECFA, Smith's third LP also marks his most substantive recording, a trio affair with the leader on tenor sax, Holland Hopson on soprano sax, and Jason Friedrich on drums. Like the rich NYC scene of the late-1990s that inspired the group, ECFA plays structured free jazz, music with a blueprint that quickly opens into vigorous improvisation. Smith's five originals provide a semblance of order, but it's the trio's frenetic interplay that shines brightest on "Ergeben" and "Schygullplatz." Steve Lacy's sinuous piece "The Retreat" is revitalized with saxist Alex Coke replacing Hopson. Admittedly not music for everyone, adventurous listeners are sure to find favor in Smith's complex, evolving sound.
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