Pam and Gary Windo

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Reviews of Pam and Gary Windo


10/07/2008 Donald Elfman

One second into this collection of '70s performances—one of a small slew of Windo compilation discs released over the past decade—and there's absolutely no question about the kind of terrain these adventurers would be negotiating. Or perhaps to be more accurate, there's every question that this kind of freedom continues to ask.

Both Windos—pianist Pam and reedman Gary, who passed away in 1992—were from Brighton in the UK and were part of the explosion of free-form energy that occurred there in the '70s. They were connected with people like Robert Wyatt, Nick Mason (of Pink Floyd) and Chris McGregor and later, in the Woodstock area of New York, even hooked up with NRBQ! But here, in '70s England, the emphasis is on finding regions deep in their musical psyches that pulse in a kind of chaos but truly liberate as well.

There are three groupings on this disc: the first is just the duo; the second adds percussionist Frank Perry and the last is a quartet with bassist Harry Miller and drummer Louis Moholo.

The duet section—recorded at an art college in Kent—opens at full throttle with Gary exploring the range of his tenor and Pam finding a way both to complement and find new spaces. It's an uncompromising workout and listeners need to attend to it fully to avoid being put off by what might be oversimplified as 'noise.'

The madness expands to take on Perry for five tunes that continue the sense of an almost archaeological dig into the origin of sounds. For those listeners looking for order or structure, you're advised that you need to find your own. Perry is a colorist and is often oddly restrained but never fails to find his place. For the final selection, "Maiden Stone," South Africans Moholo and Miller join for what is the most 'orderly' romp of the disc. Though the story is still one of creation unfolding, the bass and drums help find more of a shape for the disorder.

On none of these performances is there really a traditional sense of soloing. These are players who are trying to talk together while getting to truly difficult yet elemental areas of communication.


07/08/0008 Nic Jones ~ AllAboutJazz.com

"This release raises the profile of Pam Windo's piano playing considerably, and it's clear from the opening track, “We're On Our Way/Primal Stream,” that any further attention this might afford her is long overdue. The couple is sympathetic to the point of pronounced empathy, and the resulting music, for all of its intensity, has a highly personal air, making for the notion of a really close duo engaged in constructive dialog.
This notion of self-containment within the duo is also valid in the setting of the trio with percussionist Frank Perry, who performs on both “Roarin'” and “Shepp Heard.” Perry's extended percussive palette lends the music an expansive air while the Windos both deny logical flow and highlight the joys of free play. Perry alone produces some surprisingly serene music on the coupling of “Frank 'n Myrrh” and “Incensed” which only goes to highlight the pratfalls of pigeonholing before Gary Windo imposes his will on his tenor sax and Pam Windo gets galvanic at the keyboard. Again, the effect is both incendiary and considered.
In the company of bassist Harry Miller and drummer Louis Moholo, the Windos are as close as they ever gets to convention on the closing “Maiden Stone, but the rhythm duo has more than sufficient ability to give the music an incendiary edge. The results are again remarkable—not least because the music remains considerably more than the kind of macho posturing that is sometimes the sole hallmark of this approach. There is an abundant range of dynamics on offer here, justifying the importance of historical delving when it comes to documenting that multi-faceted thing which is the music."


22/02/0008 Clifford Allen, All About Jazz

The set opens with a two-part duo improvisation recorded in 1976 at Maidstone College of Art in Kent, Pam Windo's glassy pointillism slowly morphing into rolling churchy block chords, an eliding transition that recalls Bobby Few or Jaki Byard in a glass enclosure. She's a good foil for the saxophonist, empathetic to his often turn-on-a-dime whims, and able to coax gruff, velvety blues out of the skronk. She lets him hang in the air unaccompanied for “Primal Stream” as he brays, shouts, digs and whinnies, his vocal cry slipping out alongside the horn. There's almost—almost—a purr, then a moan, then one last eviscerating run before it's over.

Frank Perry, normally a very detailed percussionist, sounds positively Hans Bennink-like, tumbling over the toms on “Roarin'” as Pam roils in the lower registers and Gary's tenor practically splits in half out of the gate, as though he were pushing everything out at once. There's a processional for gongs, temple blocks, piano and bass clarinet in “Shepp Heard,” measured and tense that leads into the brief-but-raw unaccompanied bass clarinet of “Bass Space.” To say Gary Windo's world is intense is an understatement— it's as if he's taking one look into the primal void and, with a yelp, jumping in naked. Thankfully, part of his journey was captured on tape.


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