Thursday, October 4, 2012

PAUL FLAHERTY ‎– Voices (solo alto and tenor sax) 2001




Label: Wet Paint Music – 3002
Format: CD, Album; Country: US; Released: 2003; Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded Sept 18, 2001 and mastered Nov 23, 2001 at PBS Studios, Westwood, MA.
Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Producer, Artwork – Paul Flaherty
[Prepress], Design – Mark Saunders; Photography By – Deborah Everett
New Design by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA - 2012, (collage of fragments of drawings by Paul Flaherty); Designer - Vitko Salvarica
Recorded By, Mastered By – Peter Kontrimas


From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003) 

Saxophonist Paul Flaherty has been playing free-improvisational music for many years and was introduced to us in the past year through his collaborations with drummer Chris Corsano and with Corsano and trumpet player Greg Kelley. Flaherty's latest effort is a 70 minute solo set of free-improv jazz played on alto & tenor saxophone. This is an album that has grown on me over multiple listens, the power of the music lying in Flaherty's passionate and expressive playing style. His sax can be beautifully melodious or sonically harsh. Music that grabs you by the throat.... and caresses you. I like the considered moments of silence. They're typically barely a second, but are noticeable. It's like Flaherty is allowing himself and the listener an instant to breathe, or maybe even a moment of reflection before he launches into the next phrase. I also like the technique used on "Little Death", which sounds like Flaherty talking through his saxophone. And there's "But We Will Keep The Secret", on which we hear vocal yelps at the beginning that preface one of the most frantic pieces on the album.

Improvisational music typically consists of very personal statements that come from the depths of the artists' soul, and in the liner notes of Voices Flaherty has chosen to share some inner thoughts that let us into the details of his musical world and make for a richer listening experience. It's interesting to learn that of 20 albums he has been involved in, Voices is his first solo release. However, this is far from being his first solo experience, having performed thousands of times alone, usually between 1:00-4:00am on the streets of his native Hartford, Connecticut. Listening with the headphones on I imagined myself walking under a bridge at night and spotting a lone man with a saxophone filling the night air with strange but seductive sounds.

Recommended to fans of the free-improv avant-garde . If you're in the mood for one man's moving and passionate musical explorations, then surrender yourself to Voices.

— by Jerry Kranitz 


The pictures Paul Flaherty paints of himself , both figuratively and literally, in the liner notes of Voices, show a man divided, a personae which Flaherty describes as the meeting of the conscious self with other personalities, namely that which bursts with the emotional medium of improvisation and that which melds the conscious self and emotional self into the music that's produced. Listeners have had little chance to meet Flaherty's conscious self; during the past twenty-five years, he's been involved in the release of twenty scattered albums and rarely left the NY/New England area, but Voices, his first solo release, gives the public a chance to encounter all sides of his musical personae all at once.

Flaherty uses the alto and tenor saxophones over the course of Voices' nine tracks to produce over seventy minutes of live, free improvisation. A solo release of such duration is an intense proposition for most musicians, but, seeing as this is Flaherty's first solo release, it seems appropriate that he takes as much time as he needs, regardless of whether it's easy to make it through Voices in one listen. Any allusion to this difficulty is surely not a sign of a weakness in Flaherty's technique or ability. In fact, Voices proves him to be extremely flexible, creative, and full of a musical passion that many of his contemporaries might wish for. His melodic work is jagged but encircled by a strong pathos, and Flaherty easily forces a melodic line to dissolve into a noisy, red-cheeked fury before coaxing it back out, unharmed, into focus. He sometimes locks into small minimalist permutations that coil around themselves tightly before exploding into molten aural lava or ever so slightly coming untwined and shifting shape into something new. Comparisons to Peter Brцtzmann seem apt at times, especially in regards to the blustery tone that even many of Flaherty's more balladic pieces give off, but there's nothing in the way of mimicry or hat-tipping to be found here. Flaherty's saxophone explores plenty of sonic ground that's little comparable to anything but inspiration in the outside world: crying babies, the whinny of a horse, or a distant jet engine.

Paul Flaherty has waited a long time to release his first solo album, and the countless hours of public performance (sans audience) on the streets of Hartford, CT, have paid dividends in an album of improvisatory fire which doesn't wane over the course of the album's duration. That such intensity and skill can seem commonplace by the end of Voices may seem to detract from the album's quality, but it's a signal that Flaherty is a force to be reckoned with, and one whose voice should be heard by far more people than it has thus far.

-- Adam Strohm, fakejazz.com


In his liner notes to Voices, Paul Flaherty admits: "I don't know who I am. That's where the music...comes alive." Most people, even avant-garde jazz fans, don't know who Paul Flaherty is. He rarely stepped out of his native Hartford, CT. But his Voices album speaks more than the busy careers of run-of-the-mill saxophonists. It speaks of human emotions, raw and sometimes violent, of the unfairness of life, of artistic expression as a safety valve. One could use the fire music tag to describe these solos — there's fire for sure in his raspy horn and there's a highly personal understanding of free jazz, too, but this moves beyond jazz or under it, into something almost atavistic, primal but not primary. Flaherty blows. His lungs are so powerful and his use of multiphonics so peculiar that it sounds as if he is pushing too much air into the instrument; it is about to burst at the joints, every piece of metal vibrating at its own frequency (the listener waits for the explosion during "Our Tears Are Always Young"). And then he turns to a soulful melody, irresistibly moving, just to prove to you that there are more voices in him than what could meet the ear at first. He can push his tenor sax into the range of a baritone (in "You Can't Go Home Again") and make his alto sax cry in a plaintive high-pitched tone reminiscent of a suona (the aptly titled"Little Death"). Music like this lives and dies on the notion of honesty, and on the involvement of the artist. These voices are very much alive.

~ François Couture, All Music Guide



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  1. PAUL FLAHERTY - Voices (solo alto-tenor sax) 2003
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