by Human Feel

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released January 1, 1991

Andrew D'Angelo - alto saxophone
Chris Speed - clarinet, tenor saxophone
Kurt Rosenwinkel - guitar
Joe Fitzgerald - bass
Jim Black - drums

recorded live to DAT by Peter Karl, assisted by Nathan Forman
Executive Producer – Gunther Schuller GM recordings
produced by Human Feel
assistant producers – Stephanie Stathos, Bruce Millard

AllMusic Review
Human Feel's sophomore album, Scatter, is filled with tremendous and passionately performed avant jazz, but its importance comes mainly from being the first widely available CD (thanks to Gunther Schuller's GM Recordings label) featuring then-newcomers Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar), Chris Speed (tenor sax), Andrew D'Angelo (alto sax), and Jim Black (drums). The presence of bassist Joe Fitzgerald is also noteworthy for a couple of reasons: he's a highly skilled and expressive player here (as he would also prove years later in Ballin' the Jack, and he left Human Feel after this CD and was not replaced. Human Feel went on to record its most defining work as a quartet without bass, so Fitzgerald has the somewhat peculiar distinction of having been the bassist in a group that most people remember as not having one. Human Feel used the later absence of a bassist to open the band's music up and redefine the expected roles of drums, electric guitar, and saxes. On Scatter, the roles are more traditional, but that is not meant to suggest ordinary or undistinguished. Rosenwinkel is astonishing on the leadoff and title track, Speed's "Scatter," with a guitar solo dominated by Django-like chords, thick and tinged with distortion -- hot club jazz meets Seattle grunge. Rosenwinkel's soulful and bluesy "Eyes Cries" has a "Lonely Woman" flavor, revealing the guitarist's Ornette-ish side. Speed's "Kortone" is a highlight too, taking off from a seven-beat rhythm in the bass and drums, adding off-kilter sax riffing and a five-beat two-chord vamp from Rosenwinkel. D'Angelo's "United/Music" is comparatively easygoing at the beginning, with an almost Caribbean lilt, before the tempo is loosened into a rubato ballad led by D'Angelo's wailing alto, which rises into a multiphonic scream, joined by Speed's bittersweet tenor. The steady midtempo swing of Black's "Low Joe" is just about the most straight-ahead thing he's ever done, and provides nice soloing room for everybody to show their chops. Rosenwinkel's speedy "Rumplestiltskin" is filled with boppish angularity as its lines tumble rapid-fire from the saxes and guitar, and Black's "Numb" ends the disc on a nicely ruminative note. The best was yet to come for these musicians, and yet anyone familiar with the later work of Speed and D'Angelo might marvel at how well-defined their respective tones and styles were even at this early date. As for Black, he had nowhere to go but up -- on this recording he is about as good as any jazz drummer going, whether more conventionally swinging, rolling, and tumbling through free jazz rhythmic terrain ("Older Sports"), or exploring texture and color. But his explosive talent wasn't on full display yet, as it suddenly would be on the next Human Feel release, Welcome to Malpesta, where, without Fitzgerald's bass in the rhythm section, Black's role completely changed and he fully rose to the challenges of the band's new quartet architecture. Scatter is a beautifully accomplished CD: varied, expertly paced, and astonishingly mature for a group of such young cats. And yet it shouldn't be sought out as an introduction to Human Feel -- it doesn't really represent the band's identity as can be heard on Welcome to Malpesta and Speak to It, or the band's 21st century reunion effort, 2007's Galore. Scatter is a great record by any standards of creative jazz, but it's not quite Human Feel yet.
- Dave Lynch



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Human Feel Brooklyn, New York

Jim Black
Andrew D'Angelo
Kurt Rosenwinkel
Chris Speed


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