Saturday, July 07, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Canvasing the Jazz, Classical and Rock Sections of the Music Store

Andrew Hill: Point of Departure. 1964. Blue Note Records: 7243 4 99007 2 1.

Andrew Hill: piano, composer
Kenny Dorham: trumpet
Eric Dolphy: alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet
Joe Henderson: tenor saxophone
Richard Davis: bass
Tony Williams: drums

The music and the players on this classic Blue Note is an endless source of awe. Andrew Hill wrote these great compositions, and then he has performers the caliber of Eric Dolphy, Joe Henderson and Kenny Dorham improvising within his formal structures. The alternate takes on "New Monastery," "Flight 19" and "Dedication" add new insight into these pieces. And they're every bit as vibrant as the versions from the original album. I'm so taken by "Spectrum" that I wish there was an alternate take on that one as well. The additional material tacked onto the end does alter the beautiful arc of the original sequence. Perhaps these special editions should program a respectful pause before the bonus tracks to preserve the experience as it was originally issued.

Morton Feldman: Works for Piano. Recorded in 1990. Hat Hut Records: 6035.

Marianne Schroeder: piano

"Intermission 5" (1952)
"Piano Piece - to Philip Guston" (1963)
"Vertical Thoughts 4" (1963)
"Piano" (1977)
"Palais de Mari - for Fancesco Clemente" (1986)

Morton Feldman's affinity for the paintings of Cezanne or Degas (or the drawings of Philip Guston) is made audible in these exquisite, intensely quiet piano compositions. Listening to this CD is like entering a spacious wing of a large art museum set aside for displaying these five modern works. "Intermission 5," "Piano Piece" and "Vertical Thoughts 4" are small-scale, beautiful sketches that lead into the larger canvases of "Piano" and "Palais de Mari." Each is rendered with the fewest, most carefully selected strokes possible. I am struck by the vast tranquility of this music and the attractive remoteness of breathing in the midst of soft gestures that barely ripple across the prevailing silence.

Beck: Guero. 2005. Interscope Records: B0003481-02.

I seem to be in a 2-year delay in keeping up with Beck's output as this is the first time I've given this disc a listen. Guero feels like a tame version of Odelay. There's the attention to production detail that one expects from Beck's studio efforts. But this one pulls up short for my tastes as my ears craved wider extremes of sonic variation - or at least hearing some of the sonic territory pushed a little further than the arrested trajectories that box in the sound on this one. However, Beck has a knack for song writing and there's a solid core at the center of each track. Ultimately, that's where Guero succeeds and delivers a quality listening experience in spite of the pitfalls and warts.

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