Wednesday, August 01, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Fugitive Axis and Prog

Reuben Radding: Fugitive Pieces. 2006. Pine Ear Music: PEM 002.

Reuben Radding: double bass
Matt Bauder: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Andrew Drury: percussion
Nate Wooley: trumpet

There's a quiet expansiveness to the music of Fugitive Pieces as this quartet of improvisers apply extended techniques toward mining sonic textures of microscopic detail. It evokes the open, unpopulated spaces of an Ansel Adams photograph along with a similar entrancing depth and beauty. These four individuals nearly fuse into a single entity as the all acoustic instrumentation yields such a focused, other worldly sound.

Jim Black: Alasnoaxis. 2000. Winter & Winter: 910061-2.

Jim Black: drums
Hilmar Jensson: electric guitar
Chris Speed: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Skuli Sverrisson: electric bass

Brief, episodic compositions arranged in a manner that keeps me smiling. This band is fluent in any number of genres and they're stylistically omnivorous enough to convincingly switch things up without falling into the jazz "postmodern" abyss that's been getting some discussion around the blogosphere. Instead, it feels like an extension of Jim Black's unique style of drumming translated into a compositional sensibility as the mixing of disparate elements sounds less deliberate than natural. Sverrisson's work on the electric bass is a wonder to behold on this one.

The Bad Plus: Prog. 2007. Do the Math Records/Heads Up International: HUCD 3125.

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

With about 100-times more energy than Tears for Fears ever had, The Bad Plus breathe intoxicating vigor into "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." And the odd choices for covers goes on with David Bowie's "Life on Mars," Rush's "Tom Sawyer" and Burt Bacharach's "This Guy's in Love with You." But it's the originals on Prog that keep the foot stomping and the brain wrinkled up with intrigue as "Physical Cities" by bassist Reid Anderson hits a real sweet spot of groove with plenty of detail and variation that appeals directly to my own sensibilities. And drummer David King's "1980 World Champion" ends this collection with some serious punch. The Bad Plus have found a jazz vitality that resonates with contemporary, real world influences that feels like the re-birth of a new cool.

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