Nagual & Carl Mitchell
Improvisations I & II [CS; Cabin Floor Esoterica]

Jazz is a fickle beast, much like the domesticated cat that pretends to put up with you. Sure, there’s a bit of love and loyalty exchanged in meaningful purrs and satisfactory pettings but there are fangs and claws on that fur ball. It’s cute but hurtful, turning on a moment’s notice. The care taken to keeping this finicky animal at ease is tiring: feedings, brushings, litter box maintenance. Yet the bond generated over years of treating each other with mutual mistrust leads to something much more fond and endearing. Cats aren’t bred to grow friendlier through bloodlines, so they carry an edge with them through generations. I’m sure jazz is allergic to such a generic metaphor, but it too bares its fangs and claws with each iteration. It has endured decades of slow growth and stunted attention from an audience that would rather take up the ease in caring for a dog. Dogs are pop music, accessories to sunny afternoons in parks and cars with the windows rolled down. How the duo Nagual and Carl Mitchell will feel about all of this preening is up to their discretion but hopefully they are cat people, because their two sides of improvisational free-jazz are the stormy stretches and midnight bellows of a cat taking over the house after the masters have fallen asleep on guard duty. Kernels of litter are sprinkled throughout the home, fur falls off in clumps on the piece of furniture they aren’t to dare to sleep on in the day, and a general sense of ennui is erased by bursts of ecstatic energy to pounce on an unsuspecting shadow under the guidance of moonlight. Improvisations I & II take equal liberties, skewing the normal relationship between human and animal kingdom to embrace the primal qualities of jazz in its continued stunted mutation. It has been neutered and rendered secondary by a society too enamored with impatience to care for its matriculation, so it buys a dog that shits in the yard and is loyal to only its needs. Those adept enough to put time in with a cat will get their just rewards; so goes Improvisations I & II.

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