Saturday, May 19, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Climbing Hills, Doing the Math and Bangin' on Cans

Nels Cline: New Monastery - a view into the music of Andrew Hill. 2006. Cryptogramophone: 130.

Nels Cline: guitar, effects
Bobby Bradford: cornet
Andrea Parkins: accordion, effects
Devin Hoff: contrabass
Scott Amendola: drumset, percussion
Alex Cline: percussion (on two tracks)

This one is an homage to the music of Andrew Hill played with joy and an ear for the spirit of these great compositions. Cline's arrangement of Dedication is just spot on. After spending some time recently with the original Hill recordings of many of these pieces lately it's a pleasure to hear them refracted through this piano-less ensemble. There's no question that this body of music will live on and inspire many who are part of this living tradition. This is just one view into the music of Andrew Hill.

The Bad Plus: Suspicious Activity? 2005. Columbia: CK 94740.

Reid Anderson: bass
Ethan Iverson: piano
David King: drums

"Anthem for the Earnest" has one of the hookiest of hooks ever found in the piano trio medium. I find it irresistible and deeply pleasant. The Bad Plus can groove, rock and keep the brain engaged as well. This disc is insanely cool.

Bang on a Can & Don Byron: A Ballad For Many. 2006. Cantaloupe Music: CA21036.

Don Byron: composer, clarinet
Bang on a Can All-stars:
Robert Black: bass
David Cossin: drum set, percussion
Lisa Moore: piano
Mark Stewart: guitars
Wendy Sutter: cello
Evan Ziporyn: clarinets

The Don Byron sound refracted through the aggressive-progressive lens of the Bang on a Can All-stars. The focus here is Don Byron the composer as this 6-piece chamber ensemble interprets two film scores and a handful of other pieces written by the intensely creative and wide-ranging clarinetist. To my ears, this is a rare meeting of two of the most vibrant New York music scenes. And it's not surprising that Don Byron would be a pivotal figure linking the "totalist" new music camp of Lang, Wolf, Gordon and company to the downtown improvised music scene. Nor is it surprising that Byron's musical ideas would display the same qualities as chamber works that one hears in his touring jazz ensembles.

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