Wednesday, July 25, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Some String Theory, Some Chicago Deep-dish Dissonance and Some Bop

Laurie Anderson: Life on a String. 2001. Nonesuch: 79539-2.
Laurie Anderson: vocals, keyboards, violins, gongs
with various (small) combinations of:
Elena Barere: concert master - Joey Baron: drums, percussion - Martin Brumback: percussion arrangement - Vinicius Cantuaria: percussion - Mino Cinelu: percussion - Timothy Cobb: bass - Greg Cohen: acoustic bass - Jill Dell'Abate: orchestra conductor - Enrico DiCecco: violin - Jonathan Dinklage: violin - Karen Dreyfus: viola - Barry Finclair: violin - Danny Frankel: percussion, hand claps, "box-o-toys" - Eric Friedlander: cello - Bill Frisell: guitar - Jean Ingram: violin - Mitchell Froom: keyboards, claviola, mellotron, wurlitzer - Liheng: baritone banhu - Vincent Lionti: viola - Eyvind Kang: violin - John Kelly: background vocals - Ann Leathers: violin - Jeanne LeBlanc: cello - Dwight Mikkelsen: copyist - Heidi Modr: violin - Jan Mullen: violin - Tom Nelis: vocals - Van Dyke Parks: string arrangements, conductor, keyboards - Ellen Payne: violin - Joel Pitchon: violin - Sue Pray: viola - Lou Reed: guitar - Ben Rubin: bells - Peter Scherer: keyboards, percussion - Jamshied Sharifi: additional keyboards, strings - Ricky Sortomme: violin - Skuli Sverrisson: bass, little organ, percussion programming, high bass, sounds, bowed guitars, keyboards - Chris Speed: saxophone - Cuong Vu: trumpet - Carol Webb: violin - Judith Willmer: viola - Hal Willner: turntables, samples - Mocean Worker: beats, keyboards - Fredrick Zlotkin: cello

I'm unusually sensitive to the brevity of the song forms upon this particular listening. Even within these tight, almost haiku structures Laurie Anderson finds plenty of room to disrupt expectation. The vernacular language of popular musics bend under all the deviations and odd twists upon the timbres as even the poetry takes some halting turns in the service of Anderson's unique story telling method. There's a lot going on in this studio set and the quality of the players makes for a rewarding listen.

Chicago Tentet: American Landscapes 2. 2007. Okkadisk: OD12068.

Peter Brötzmann: composer, clarinet, tarogato, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
Mats Gustafson: baritone saxophone, slide-saxophone
Ken Vandermark: clarinet, baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone
Joe McPhee: trumpet
Hans Bauer: trombone
Per-Ake Holmlander: tuba

Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello
Kent Kessler: bass
Paal Nilssen-Love: drums
Michael Zerang: drums

It takes several minutes for the steady crescendo of energy, intensity and volume to build in this second landscape. After more than 12 minutes most mere mortals would have peaked. But this is a Peter Br
ötzmann composition, so there's plenty of rocket fuel to throw onto the fire as he brings a unique intensity that has become a point of fixation in the HurdAudio landscape for the past few months. When things eventually do crest this music continues to surge with a quiet dissonance that fills out this long-form composition. There's plenty of room within these thick textures for the individual qualities of the improvisers to cut through. Sometimes ugly beauty such as this possesses the greatest degree of honesty.

Kenny Dorham: Trompeta Toccata. 1964 (re-issued in 2006). Blue Note: 0946-3-62635-2-6.

Kenny Dorham: trumpet
Joe Henderson: tenor saxophone
Tommy Flanagan: piano
Richard Davis: bass
Albert Heath: drums

While on an Art Blakey listening binge last year I began to focus on the great compositions, arrangements and playing of "Messenger" Kenny Dorham. A 1964 session with Dorham as the leader and the great Joe Henderson on tenor, this one is every bit the can't miss Blue Note bop record of that era I expected and then some. The title track in particular is a knock-out. The technical re-mastering for this Rudy Van Gelder Edition is also right on target as the balance between this great rhythm section and horns draws the ear right into these inviting bop soundscapes.

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