Made up of a sprawling three pieces which clock in at a little bit south of 45 minutes, Live at Westport starts off all jungle style with Bamboo Interlude Texas Driveway Holding Pattern. Wooden flutes chatter, flutter, and scrawl as all members of this quintet dive in together. Bass guitarist Henry Fording Eddins picks up the harmonics and summons in the sax of Russell "Fairweather" Thorpe and really cool bowed upright bass from John Nichols. Drummer leader UN RA Arnold Young swiftly joins in the fray, and suddenly the listener it transported to the American mid-West as the group improvises in a manner that sounds quite AACM or BAG in its approach: lots of space within the interplay, marching rhythms, scattershot percussion leads and lots of clearly attentive listening. A bit deeper in, trumpeter Nick Howell coaxes great big gut bucket bleats from his horn as he mixes things up with Young's drumming commentary. Bamboo Interlude drifts into a Bluesy ending section, with all members going collective yahoo as they lose the holding pattern and set their ship out onto a deep, muddy river of composed-sounding jam.
The second piece, Outerlude Joshua, continues with said mid-Western feel as Eddins, Thorpe and Young languidly wrap their tones around each other. This relaxed feel allows for an opening through which everyone begins to collectively strut, with Young pushing all hands on deck and into some really satisfying playing, Howell and Thorpe doing a call-and-response dance as the basses clip and click in their lower registers. Joshua has the kind of spaciousness that has Disaster Amnesiac's head spinning in a gooey bliss, and as the individual solos commence, I'm all ears. Young's accompaniment is tight and tasty as he weaves with Eddins and Nichols. This trio warps and wraps their sounds in all manner of stop-start zones, and the horns respond accordingly, moving up, down, and around their registers as they make their statements. Eventually, things boil down to duo statements before the collective comes roaring back to walk things home by way of whispered goodbyes. Twenty four minutes of highly enjoyable intimacy. It's what you want from your Jazz, yes? Well, it's surely what Disaster Amnesiac wants from mine.
Live at Westport Coffee House Theater concludes with a short piece, FlavorMix Drums, in which Young gets his Funk ya ya's out as the basses push him and the horns shout their encouragement. He takes a short solo, stops abruptly, almost as if he realizes that he's suddenly alone, and that's it for the set. Don't buy the modesty, though, he's kicking ass as he stomps out his changes.
Fat, hip, and juicy, Arnold Young & Flavor Mixing Systems Live at Westport Coffee House Theater is a fine set of grooving, spacing, and all out enjoyable slice of Heartland Jazz, coming at the listener real and hot. Fans of the polyglot truth of the music will want to drink from this mixture.