In 1964, Albert Ayler titled his revolutionary free-jazz behemoth LP Spiritual Unity. Nearly half a century later, Little Women—a rising quartet that represents a stellar cache of Brooklyn avant-gardists storming DIY hubs—follows a similar bohemian paradigm. Sure, intrepid individuals like Weasel Walter, Brandon Seabrook and Kevin Shea continue to alter the improv landscape. But Little Women—saxophonists Darius Jones and Travis Laplante, guitarist Andrew Smiley and drummer Jason Nazary—are conjoined as a singular cathartic being, and the just-released Lung (AUM Fidelity) serves as proof.
Whereas 2010’s Throat offered fire-breathing sonic obliteration, the 42-minute-continuous Lung is a monumental exercise in both subtle restraint and skronky fireworks. The album is devoid of trite genre pick-and-choose. A true collective, the group pursues an ecstatic yet violent aesthetic, tantamount to a meditative experience as gazed through a tragic lens that the ensemble describes as “Shakespearean.”
The quiet-loud–themed Lung follows a poetic narrative, complete with jarring bumps and bruises, that began with 2007’s punk-jazz assault Teeth and continued with Throat. But the new disc is where Little Women crystallize a deconstructed jazz vision. The minimalist, ritualistic piece begins with relaxed breath sounds, before Jones and Laplante’s dueling-yet-melodic horns converge, sever and erupt. There’s droning hum-sing and Smiley’s postpunk-style slice ’n’ dice riffage; Nazary pilots the fray with aplomb. The group’s spiritual unity will be on display tonight as it performs Lung, preceded by a set from avant-metal guitarist—and Little Women cover artist—Mick Barr.—Brad Cohan