‘Stop Time,’ A Crucial Archival Release of Barry Altschul, David Izenzon and Perry Robinson Live Performance Documents a Peak Moment of NYC Free Jazz 

An archival release from 1978, 'Stop Time' is a potent time capsule of NYC free jazz | Cover art (cropped)

Formidable but wholly invitational, Stop Time is an impressive time capsule of high-potency NYC free jazz.

On the track “Untitled III,” the trio of drummer Barry Altschul, double bassist David Izenzon and clarinetist Perry Robinson bring the goods and then some on this 1978 previously unreleased live performance. The players were progenitors of the ’60s free jazz and ‘70s loft scene. A fiery collaborator, Altschul amongst other permutations, enjoyed an intense ‘60s association with Anthony Braxton; Izenzon brought a savvy abstraction to the music of Ornette Coleman and also a scorching session with pianist Jaki Bayard and drummer Elvin Jones; while polymath Robinson was an early syncretic explorer of what is now considered pan-global music.

Produced by the trio’s contemporary cohort Peter Kuhn (a stellar reedman in his own right), the 15-minute performance finds the trio putting their instruments through the paces, yet never allowing their collective virtuosity to hinder the elemental shapes they release. Altschul and Izenzon open “Untitled III” with pulsating drum-and-bass clicks and clacks as Robinson prods and coaxes the pair into an accelerated triple-time rhythm. A marching groove arrives at midpoint, Izenzon and Altschul folding and collapsing the performance into a space where Robinson meets them with a buttery blues that evokes Sidney Bechet. At song’s end, the band briefly reexamine the opening theme, then shut down “Untitled III” as confidently as it arrived.

Stop Time is another notable release from Lithuanian label NoBusiness Records, who have released equally important archival documents of other visionary players including multi-instrumentalist Sam Rivers, guitarist Derek Bailey and bass-magus Earl Freeman.

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