Jack Wright and Ben Wright

The Dragon's Den

April 04, 2005

Funny that I should see Jack and Ben Wright at The Dragon's Den Monday night. That afternoon I was talking to Jay, the drummer for El Radio Fantastique, about the definition of free jazz. Jay gave me the perspective I needed on free music to enjoy and have a greater appreciation for the music of the saxophone and upright bass duo. The conversation allowed me to view Jack and Ben's spontaneous excursions outside of the jazz idiom and instead think of it as music that urged creativity--and it did.

Saxophonist Jack Wright and his son, bassist Ben Wright, introduced new sounds and didn't use conventional song structure. This made their music emotionally forceful. Jack produced overblown, screeching sax noises while Ben attacked the bass with his bow for a similar grating noise. The amplitude, force and novelty of the sounds made them raw and beyond rebellious. An appropriate background for the creation of poetry.

Poetry--that's what Ben and Jack made, anyway. They played four "songs," but each one ended only when it seemed like it naturally should have. Like the idea the duo was exploring had been exhausted.

They didn't stick on one theme for long, and they were very focused on each other's movements. When one got softer the other followed and louder vice versa. The great thing about the duo was that they always found new ways to approach different directions. With the bow, Ben tapped his strings in anger. He also attacked his strings with vigor as the only rule when things got hot. Ben was always the second string, though. Jack was the focus of the performance. I've never heard sounds like the ones Jack made. He sucked into the sax and took the reed off and blew without it. What he created was disturbing yet exciting. All those repressed emotions coming out his conduit. If I can go so far as to say Jack manifested humanity.



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