Tuesday, June 05, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: If you've not been fed, be bread

Brian Sacawa: American Voices. 2007. Innova: 675.

Brian Sacawa: saxophones
DJ Dubble8 (Erik Spangler): turntables
Wenli Zhou: piano

"Piece in the Shape of a Square" by Philip Glass
"Pre-Amnesia" by Lee Hyla
"pastlife laptops and attic instruments" by Erik Spangler
"Netherland" by Chris Theofanidis
"Bacchanalia Skiapodorum" by Derek Hurst
"Voice Within Voice" by Keeril Makan
"The Low Quartet" by Michael Gordon

These all-saxophone arrangements of "Piece in the Shape of a Square" and "The Low Quartet" bring a new texture to these familiar works. And they reveal some new dimensions to pieces I thought I knew well. The smooth tone Sacawa brings to these pulsating, looping compositions brings out sonic character that Glass and Gordon may not have realized was lurking within their ideas. This same tone is subjected to an extreme focus in "Bacchanalia Skiapodorum" as the accompanying electronic part tugs and pulls at a universe of saxophonic timbres. "Voice Within Voice" mines a territory beyond tone as a focused study of breath and vocalizations that draw the ear toward the peculiar physics of the vibrating column that makes up the baritone saxophone. The quiet intensity of that work is staggering and beautiful as the ear is drawn into the micro-sounds of both human and instrument.

Myra Melford/Be Bread: The Image of Your Body. 2006. Cryptogramophone: CG131.

Myra Melford: piano, harmonium
Brandon Ross: electric guitar, banjo, voice
Cuong Vu: trumpet, electronics
Stomu Takeishi: electric bass, acoustic bass, electronics
Elliot Humberto Kavee: drums

The inspired combination of Myra Melford on piano with Stomu Takeishi on bass takes another spin in this Be Bread ensemble with Elliott Humberto Kavee filling out the rhythm section on drums. Cuong Vu and Brandon Ross trade roles as the fourth member of the two quartets and there's an odd continuity between the silky smooth unison melody lines between piano and trumpet, and piano and guitar that runs through this disc. Vu's use of electronics with trumpet adds a sweeping, atmospheric quality that is compatible with Melford's melodic sensibility. There are several poetic additions to the Myra Melford songbook on this disc as well as great arrangements of "Equal Grace" and "Yellow Are Crowds of Flowers, ii."

Ornette Coleman: Sound Grammar. 2006. Sound Grammar: SG 11593.

Ornette Coleman: saxophone, violin, trumpet
Denardo Coleman: drums, percussion
Gregory Cohen: bass
Tony Falanga: bass

Recorded live in Ludwigshafen, Germany - October 14, 2005.

I don't need a committee to recognize this disc as a stellar live outing for this outstanding quartet. As far as I'm concerned, the lifetime achievement Grammy and Pulitzer Prize are all just stepping stones toward the international holiday that will find us all humming "Song X," "Lonely Woman" and "Una Muy Bonita" in harmolodic tranquility every March 9th.

All the melodic qualities and improvisational intensity of Ornette Coleman are there and then some in this snapshot of the master playing live. The two-bass rhythm section, with one plucked while the other is bowed, sets a perfect grounding for Ornette's vibrant creativity. And this one really has much of the same spark that set the jazz world on fire in 1959 with The Shape of Jazz to Come.

2 comments:

the improvising guitarist said...

Rather than making it an international holiday, how about setting up multiple (spontaneous?) double quartet performances around the world? Might make for some interesting (good and bad, but that wouldn’t really be the point) cultural exchanges.

S, tig

Devin Hurd said...

That's a great idea. I couldn't have come up with a better annual ritual than that.