Insight into process is an attraction unique to improvised music. As well as absorbing the sonic outcome as finished art you are privy to the means by which that artwork came about. The re-release of the 1988-recorded Encounters provides a fine example of this. Pianist Mark Isaacs, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Roy Haynes had never collaborated in any combination before the former (from Sydney) joined the others in New York. Nor did they rehearse before the engineer pressed “record” for the first time. So you hear them feeling out how each responds, finding common ground and minimising any meandering while hunting for ideas, all in the moment.
You also hear them become more adept as a collective at spontaneously creating form, Incantation being a fine example. You can enjoy the way Haynes, a doyen among drummers, deploys his wondrous touch, taste and sounds in response to the flair for melodic beauty that Isaacs continually lays on the table. Holland’s thick-pile bass, meanwhile, generally has ready answers to Isaacs’ musical questions, and is sometimes the fabric helping bind the project. Fascinating.