General 7-19-2003

Music Review: Duets @ the Corner

Music by Phil Hey and Pat Moriarty at Brilliant Corners in St. Paul, Minnesota. This is a review of an impression, an impression of a review - an improvised expression of music in deep flow.

For the first time in over 20 years, two of Minnesota’s finest improvisers
joined forces for an evening of spontaneous composition and free
improvisation in a venue that could not have been more perfect for the
occasion. Percussionist Phil Hey and saxophonist Pat Moriarty first played
together in 1973, forming various ensembles with musicians such as drummer
Jim Pickrel (now living in San Francisco) and guitarist Anthony Cox (before
he began playing bass). But it was the Phil Hey / Pat Moriarty duo that
positioned them at the epicenter of free music in the Twin Cities.
Performing in coffeehouses, community centers, and at the dearly departed
Rainbow Gallery, Hey and Moriarty shook those dwellings to their foundations
with only the acoustic waves emanating from reeds, metal, skins, and wood.
Amplifiers they did not need.

With its 60’s-era retro coffeehouse décor, the diminutive Brilliant Corners
set the perfect stage for the reunion of these two players, whose
sensitivity to each other’s phrasing and dynamics could be heard (and seen)
by the pindrop-quiet crowd of attentive listeners sipping tea and Italian
sodas. The music roared, whispered, careened, glowed, flowed, jumped, and
glided through an opening 40-minute improvisation titled “Untitled
Composition.” After the set a listener told the pair that “there was a
Buddhist temple in there somewhere.” This reviewer concurs and would add
that also present were waterfalls, seismic shifts, sunsets, flocks of
blackbirds, good friends laughing, and more and more and more. That two
musicians could create such beauty from nothingness is an indication that
wonders still abound in this world, even at 4th and Wabasha in nearly
deserted downtown St. Paul on a Thursday night in July, 2003.