Bright Dog Red

In Vivo

Listening to a free-improvisation collective, it might seem difficult to discern the difference between a live recording and a studio session, as both stem from intuitive responses provided by the presence of musicians in the same space. Such is the case with Bright Dog Red — drummer Joe Pignato’s loose assembly of improvising musicians — and its latest LP, In Vivo.

Recorded during a single set at Brooklyn’s ShapeShifter Lab, In Vivo is a live recording for COVID times, featuring a conspicuously muted audience who had to tune into the performance online. The six-track album presents an unedited stream of musical consciousness shared between the five musicians onstage and bolstered by poet Matt Coonan’s vocalizations on the end of Donald Trump’s presidency — inspired by the set taking place as the results of the 2020 election were announced.

Opening track “To Be Born Into” showcases Eric Person’s serpentine saxophone (calling up Casey Benjamin or Terrace Martin’s work) backed by the spacious groove of Pignato’s drumming and Anthony Berman’s bass. The pace is heightened into a choppy concatenation on “We Ain’t Gotta,” featuring Person’s melodic ascensions, while “Under The Porch” burns with bop swing before “Since Yesterday” deconstructs around a question-and-answer refrain.

The presence of Cody Davies’ digital wizardry elevates In Vivo from loosely structured improvisation. Davies provides artful textures to Pignato’s cymbal work on “To Be Born Into,” while on “I Swear” he comps Coonan’s free associations with a groaning bass drone. It provides a re-listenable depth.

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October 2021
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