Saturday, June 02, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Music from 3 Eras

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets. - disc 1. 1989. Performed by The Orford String Quartet. Delos International: D/CD 3031.

String Quartet in F Major op. 18 no. 1
String Quartet in E-Flat Major op. 127

Andrew Dawes: violin
Kenneth Perkins: violin
Terence Helmer: viola
Denis Brott: cello

By straddling the late Classical and early Romantic eras Beethoven's music has opened my ears to the two musical periods that have, at times, felt most distant to my own sensibilities. The Romantic Era in particular had seemed remote as many works from composers following Beethoven veer into an opaque chromaticism motivated by an emotional energy long since lost over time. The late Beethoven works (which the opus 127 is one) is a long way from the heavy-handed music of Wagner that would be composed later in the peak excesses of the Romantic Era. But in the juxtaposition of the early and late, which this CD does with opus 18 and 127, it is abundantly clear how Beethoven helped transition away from the clinical neatness of classical forms - something he was already starting to stretch the boundaries of in his early works - and usher in a new creative direction.

Don Byron: Do the Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker. 2006. Blue Note: 41094.

Don Byron: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
David Gilmore: guitar
George Colligan: Hammond B-3 organ
Brad Jones: bass
Rodney Holmes: drums, tambourine
Curtis Fowlkes: trombone
Chris Thomas King: vocals, guitar
Dean Bowman: vocals

Anyone who follows the "downtown" scene of New York City will recognize that personnel lineup as one smokin' band. Add to that the versatility of reeds man Don Byron and a soul tribute to Junior Walker on the Blue Note label one can only have high expectations for this listening experience. So I was a little surprised that it wasn't until "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)" - the second to last track on this disc - that I was finally won over. Like Beethoven's Classical/Romantic genre, the 1960s R&B/Motown sound is a musical sensibility that feels remote to my ears and it takes a push from the likes of Don Byron for me to focus my attention on unfamiliar territory such as this. I'm curious how this one will affect me when I revisit it later.

Available Jelly: Monuments. 1993. Ramboy: 07.

Eric Boeren: tumpet, alto horn
Jimmy Sernesky: trumpet
Michael Moore: alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Tobias Delius: tenor saxophone
Gregg Moore: trombone, tuba, mandolin, electric bass
Alexei Levin: piano, accordion, organ
Eric Calmes: bass, bass guitar
Michael Vatcher: percussion

Now here's a sound and an era I feel an immediate affinity for. This is the second time I've applied ears to this disc and this time I'm hearing new layers to the excellent arrangements for this 8-piece ensemble. The final track, "Dorthy," in particular is one composition I might have to transcribe and work up for solo piano one of these days. Overall, there's an animated charm to the music on Monuments.

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