Four months after its opening, New Paltz’s Muddy Cup coffeehouse lent its high ceilings to the high art of Wet Paint, an improvisational unit formed in 1995 by percussionist, vocalist, and visual artist Doug Elliot. The live recording Periphery is energy music at its best. On the day of this recording, Elliot and band members master saxophonist, trumpeter, and flautist Daniel Carter, guitarist Tilman Reitzle, bassist Don Pate, and drummer Mark E. Johnson (aka Rhythm Man), reacted instinctively to the bodies and forces within their surroundings.
The opener, “Triumph Ant,” awakens with Carter on flute, breathing out rounded, caressed phrases as Elliot rumbles on various hand-percussive instruments. As the tune bleeds into the title track, both are shaped by Elliot’s and Carter’s free associations with man-made space. Elliot vocalizes on several songs, like the blues-seasoned “Hover Shoes.” He’s ever so reminiscent of the late vocalist Richard B. Boone as he scats from within; nothing feels contrived or confined. Reitzle casually picks at notes as he winds up for a flurry of fuzzy solo lines in the middle to the end of the piece. The effervescent Carter bubbles and swivels on saxophone during “Reveal Her Reign in Light,” as Elliot lays down a soulful plea. In recording live music, it isn’t just about documenting sound. It’s about containing a feeling, a mood—minds and music in motion. Capturing the force and flow of Wet Paint and its Periphery was great luck. www.wetpaint.net.