Boomkat Product Review:
Wounded free-jazz expressionism by sax-wielding Paul Flaherty and double bassist Zach Rowden, taking prisoners and serenading them with gnarly atonalities and smeared pitches in the first side’s relatively succinct blasts, then stretching out for a sort of unsettled, groggy lounge jazz on the final 20 minute jag.
“As Far As Death is the cross-generational debut of fire music evangelist and saxophonist Paul Flaherty with double bassist and composer Zach Rowden. The Connecticut natives forge an album of dynamic free jazz interplay that also draws on imporous textures of contemporary music – an ecstatic reflection.
After a half century of blowing the alto and tenor saxes, Flaherty’s playing continues to molt and electrify. Whether solo, or with collaborators (Joe McPhee, Chris Corsano, Bill Nace, Daniel Carter, etc.), his blues-based, lyrical melodies anchor lung-bursting gallops.
Rowden – whether as Tongue Depressor (a string duo with Henry Birdsey), in performance with cellist Leila Bordreuil, or his own musique concrète constructions – balances harshness and elegiac drones. His past releases resemble resolute exploration into acoustics and noise.
Together, Flaherty’s monstrous howl is perfectly matched by Rowden’s subterranean pitched drone and glacial pace. Each offers weeping lurches of tune, gasps of balladry and microtonal fields of interplay on five pieces. The side-long “Thrown Shadows” is an epic passage of avant jazz vs minimalism, as Rowden’s low-register bowing offers a blackened landscape for Flaherty’s most mournful notes.”