The Jeff Gauthier Goatette turns in some very quiet and delicate playing on One and the Same, and when Gauthier plays either four- or five-string electric, it’s for dynamics. Nils Cline’s electric guitar is not used to make any greater noise than could be expected from a big-toned acoustic on his dead-slow “A Corner of Morning”, and David Witham’s piano is played pianissimo in a movement from delicacy to the threshold of audibility. From there, the music stirs into something bigger and more impassioned, a drawing of ever heavier breaths, though still quiet. Witham moves into silence on piano and emerges in the electronic echo of the guitar. Or is it all done by guitar, and are the nearly 39 minutes worth waiting for?
Categorizing this set as jazz can be questioned; it’s a matter of how far an absorption of complex and European influences that leaves only instrumentation (electric guitar, bass drums) is characteristic of jazz, even if there is improvisation. The nine minute opener is highly organized, but while there seem to be a couple of jazz statements, Gauthier’s solo work over Alex Cline’s drums could be the cadenza of a twentieth century classical concerto. Eric von Essen’s “Solflicka” is delivered as post-Coltrane jazz, and Witham is clearly in a jazz idiom, followed by further jazz solo contributions of increasing internal integration, all at a fair pace from violin, bass and guitar. Introverted but swinging, mighty nice, not protracted like the passage of electronica in or maybe before Benny Maupin’s “Water Torture”. Even when a bass figure is going astray, strange, quiet noises—acoustic and otherwise—are all that come out for several of the twelve minutes. If I took this music as seriously as it appears to take itself, I’d fail to review it, but I can only suppose the theme of Cline’s “Don’t Answer That” is the little passage which crops up in the middle of more unusual sounds, and again at the end. Gauthier plays jazz for about a minute between something similar to what the lately departed Derek Bailey used to play.
There’s more straightforward playing on the Gauthier and Witham composed “Heart Wisdom”, where piano and violin breathe deliberately over a slightly alarmed heartbeat of bass and drums. The slow build allows for some beautiful music, and perhaps I need to say more, certainly the performers here did. “Rina, Pt. 1” opens with guitar announcing a jazz performance, and then develops some intriguing chorded work, becoming at first more dissonant, and then easing into an alternation. Witham does nice things on delicate electric piano, but it’s par for the course for Cline to go on a bit on electric guitar. Imagine I have something else to say which could sum up One and the Same, and that I will get round to saying it at the end of another five hundred words. Actually I have just summed it up. Isn’t it, too, tautologous?