Spring Garden Music


Recorded by Jack at home

Mastered by Alex Nagel, Philadelphia

Executive Producer Kevin Reilly

Cover and design by Barbara Upton

Released on Relative Pitch Records LLC: RPR 1162

Available for listening: Bandcamp

Alto sax solo on youtube March 9, 2024

Liner notes for What is What:

In 1983 I released my first solos on Free Life, Singing. At that time only a handful of musicians took free improvisation seriously, so I announced the record with a manifesto in two parts:

“THIS IS MUSIC, it is song that must be followed, listened into. It is made to be the center of your attention; without that it is an annoying interruption. It is meant to draw from you feeling in all its details. It plays with you, is a conversation with you, so open and frank it will embarrass if you try to separate what you hear from how you experience reality…There is a beat here that denies the ridiculous constancy of the clock; it traces movement as it really is, finding its drive within its own needs—a dance that taps the body not the foot….There is melody as well, identical with its process of creation, using everything as it appears--uncertainty, fear, finding its strength

There is a delicacy and a passionate hardness, stripped bare of cloying sentiment. Its rawness is the exuberance of sound overflowing, basking in its self-created luxury….It is, every bit of it, composed the same moment you hear it, with its birth still smelling as it is handed over. It is all growing, running wild, certainly it's laughing, our child. This tease scorns the yawning perfection of the finished replica, the cynicism of too much marketplace, wanting approval before it wants itself….This music encourages your activity and your reflection on what it is to be alive. It promises to give you what you offer.

WHAT I WANT IS THIS: a music that is the outer form, the appearance in the world, the reality of feeling, of desire, need, contradiction, suffering. I want a music deep into the present time, how we truly exist now, music that defines us and gives us the future we deserve. I want a music done for the sheer love of playing, which has to exist, is surrounded by its existence. A music of intense pleasure, polymorphous, naïve, risking itself for its own sake.

This music is here for us and won't deceive our hopes if we give everything to it.”


Review by Massimo, author of Touching Extremes:

Saxophone maverick Jack Wright provides us with four tracks of undiluted soloism. Two for soprano, one each for tenor and alto. These soliloquies are as bubbly as spring water, thoroughly intelligible, and straight to the point. Wright is the antithesis of the stereotypical improviser: his phrasing evokes by sketching rather than pompously asserting, hints at the sublime via grimacing, throws left hooks to the liver of obviousness instead of coming across as a pretentious high school essay. Above all, it leaves ample room for the breathing space of a listener, who has time to download the essential data into the ears and brain, and process it all to the fullest.

Listening to over three-quarters of an hour of solo sax without experiencing at least a few moments of distraction, or out-and-out boredom, is not a given. But Wright, with decades of anti-yawning antidotes stuffed in his soul, knows exactly where to fish out the notes, harmonics and sputtery vibrations that, in consistently effective combinations, drive those ugly ghosts from the audio landscape. His exercise of staccato and ostinato turns a fragment into a miniature declaration of independence. The amalgam of heart, lungs, and imagination that makes this material moldable by our perceptive equipment ensures that snippets of sonic novelty are felt in the skull first, and in the chest later.

In ultimate praise, subsequent to my second round with What Is What I had the urge to pick up my guitar after not doing so for quite a while, and played for several minutes in a fresh, unforced way. Wright's improvisational approach prevents the interpretive mechanisms of instinct from resorting to easy routes or, even worse, commonplaces. I don't know how much the protagonist is interested in what this reviewer is about to state, which perhaps will sound blasphemous for someone. However, this album — along with many other hidden gems containing little sparks of Wright's modest genius — should serve to add, once and for all, his name to the list of all-time greats, together with the Lacys, the (Evan) Parkers and the Colemans. The establishment's blessing is not required. It's never too late to learn that, in music, purity is everything.

Review in The Wire:

Now in his eighties, Jack Wright remains "an undergrounder by design," having devoted himself ro free music full time since 1979. Based in the Philadelphia area, he's a keen collaborator, seeking fruitful connections in the US, Europe, and Japan. What is What offers an arresting insight into his solo practice across the saxophone family, with pieces for soprano, alto and tenor. Wright opens "What is Soprano" with a series of vocalised whinnies studded with plosives. Tremulous long tones unfold into grainy whorls, a lyrical descant gives way to gruff sputter, His alto vocabulary is equally expansive, from playful melodic phrases to animalistic snuffles and grunts suggestive of Iberico pigs guzzling acorns.

for comments: jackwri555 at gmail dot com