All music written and performed by Four Letter Words, except track 9, written by John Dowland.
Matt Piet - Piano
Jake Wark - Tenor saxophone
Bill Harris - Drums & percussion
1. But Does It Float? (Harris)
2. Dr. Faustus In Space (Piet)
3. Expletive 1
4. Interrobang (Wark)
5. Expletive 2
6. Deep Eddy (Harris)
7. Expletive 3
8. Basement (Wark)
9. Come Again!? (Dowland)
10. Radio Silence (Piet)
Recorded live on September 12, 2016 at belAir Sound Studio by Todd Carter.
Mixed and mastered by Bill Harris.
Artwork by Lewis Achenbach.
© & ℗ 2017 Amalgamusic (ASCAP). All rights reserved.
Reviewed by Peter Margasak for the Chicago Reader:Last fall I wrote about the vitality of Chicago’s jazz and improvised music scene after discovering the playing of pianist Matt Piet, who’s part of a new wave of players melding the rigor of free improvisation with the oblique rhythms and harmony of 60s postbop. That soon led me to other locals on the rise, like tenor saxophonist Jake Wark and drummer Bill Harris, who work with Piet in a trio called Four Letter Words. On the group’s strong new album Radio Silence (Amalgam Music)—which the performance tonight celebrates—mournful, bittersweet melodies float over roiling, thrumming grooves in a manner that reminds me of the David S. Ware Quartet at its best. Wark wields a rich, full-bodied tone marbled by biting vibrato, his sobs punctuated by lower-register honks as he unfurls epic improvisations. And where Piet’s playing in his own trio relies on spry, fractured lines, he here favors slowly cycling lyric chording and sorrowful filigree. Harris makes a simpatico fit, maintaining a firm pulse while jabbing his partners with sputtering lines that suggest he could keep time even as he and his kit tumbled down a flight of stairs. Three short improvisations titled “Expletive” are scattered among the album’s ten tracks, demonstrating a sharp rapport, but the trio still sounds best during the sturdy themes each member contributes in writing (also included is a soaring interpretation of the John Dowland madrigal “Come Again”). During certain moments the players are somewhat subsumed by their influences (Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Matthew Shipp), but I have no doubt that they’re well on their way to standing out on their own merits.
Read the review on the Chicago Reader
All music was performed live by Four Letter Words.
Four Letter Words is:
Jake Wark - Tenor saxophone
Matt Piet - Piano
Bill Harris - Drums and percussion
Recorded in August of 2015.
Engineering, mixing and mastering by Bill Harris.
Designed and produced by Four Letter Words.
Special thanks to Mike Reed and Constellation, Paul and Mary Piet for the recording space, and our friends, families, and listeners.
© & ℗ 2015 Amalgamusic (ASCAP). All rights reserved.
Reviewed by Budd Kopman at All About Jazz:Four Letter Words is a trio consisting of tenor saxophonist Jake Wark, pianist Matt Piet and drummer Bill Harris, and Blow is their highly intelligent, extremely intense and deeply rewarding debut recording.
As usual, labels are almost useless. Their music manages to sound quite free while simultaneously being organized around motifs, if not full melodies. Aural imagery is strongly projected, with each track exploring a particular area of emotional complexity as well as creating an almost concrete listening space.
Piet sounds like the leader; his playing is very strong, particularly his left hand, which supplies the bottom normally given to the bass. His compositions make up half of the eight tracks. Wark's saxophone always has a high- pressure feel to it in its fullness and projection, even when he is not playing loudly. Harris is recorded back in the mix, but he is always felt, if not heard, as an equal voice in music that does not have, for the most part, a steady groove.
The album has a clearly conceived arc, with the short title tune, "Blow," beginning and ending the album. The word "blow" has many meanings (listed in the liner), with the most obvious here being play an instrument, not necessarily a horn. A concise compendium of Piet's compositional methodology and the band's sound, the tracks end before ever seeming to get going.
The interior tunes are all long (seven to over nine minutes) intense explorations, with the band in the end creating a recognizable sound, despite the differing emphases of each track. The middle three tracks, "Lugubrious" (Harris), "I Heard You Singing In A Tree" (Piet) and "The Vampire" (Wark) could be thought of as the core of the album, or at the very least that which is representative of the group.
The music on Blow can pin you back in your seat one moment and then turn on a dime to become beautiful. It is at turns funny, dangerous, overwhelming and in the end very rewarding listening for anyone who cares to take the plunge and immerse themselves in the sound world of Four Letter Words.