Black Top with Steve Williamson - #One (4 stars)

Trio dazzle to produce inspired Afro-futurist free improvisation set

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Black Top with Steve Williamson - #One

(Babel Label)

An inspired set of Afro-futurist free improvisation, Black Top's #One sees the London-based duo of pianist Pat Thomas and multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson joined by the brilliant saxophonist Steve Williamson. 'There Goes The Neighbourhood' opens the set with Williamson on tenor, sounding relaxed and inquisitive as Robinson's marimba skips around him, before Thomas's deliberate piano jabs raise the tension. Subtle electronic beats are used for texture, with the musicians resisting the anchor offered by the dubby bass bubbles and bossa nova presets of Thomas' laptop to create their own off-kilter rhythmic momentum. On 'Guess Who's Coming To Dinner', Thomas lays faint electronic buzzes and whines under Williamson's beautiful Coltrane-via-Debussy harmonic inventions, before the saxophonist wryly comments in pinched, mocking tones over a submerged techno rumble. 'Archaic Nubian Stepdub' sees Thomas and Robinson vamping over Drexciyan bleeps and whooshes, while Williamson unspools tight clusters of soprano sax notes.

Orphy Robinson, Steve Williamson and Pat Thomas

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