Sunday, August 19, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: What Next? Managing the Instances

Don Byron/Bang on a Can All-stars: A Ballad for Many. 2006. Cantaloupe Music: CA21036.

Don Byron: composer, clarinet
Robert Black: bass
David Cossin: drum set, percussion
Lisa Moore: piano
Mark Stewart: electric guitars
Wendy Sutter: cello
Evan Ziporyn: clarinet, bass clarinet

The Don Byron sound passes through the lens of the Bang on a Can All-stars as this collaboration between New York-based composer and New York-based performing ensemble results in these brilliant interpretations of Byron originals. "Eugene" and "Music from The Red-Tailed Angels" were both written to accompany moving picture as Byron's score expertly adapts to the unseen jump-cuts and narrative demands with results that endure well as stand alone compositions. This is an inspired collaboration that highlights the intelligence and sonic beauty of Don Byron's creative ideas.

Elliott Sharp/Orchestra Carbon: Abstract Repressionism: 1990-99. 1992. Victo: CD019.

Elliott Sharp: composer, double guitar-bass
Gregor Kitziz: violin
David Soldier: violin
Wendy Ultan: violin
Ron Lawrence: viola
Michelle Kinney: cello
Margaret Parkins: cello
Mary Wooten: cello
Lindsay Horner: bass
Joseph Trump: drums, electronic percussion

Creating music means constantly confronting the question of what next? and where does this sound go from here? Each composition and improvised performance offers a possible answer to the voracious appetite of those questions. Abstract Repressionism offers a compelling large-scale answer that has strong parallels to big bang theory. The entire work begins with an explosive onslaught of dissonance and fury that immediately confronts the what next? question with an expansive energy emanating from the dissipation of that initial force. With clear melodic themes and consistent core ideas woven throughout this piece providing a strong sense of coherent unity coupled with a willingness to unleash sonic violence from time to time this is a piece that continues to influence my own thinking about how one approaches the question of what next?

Misha Mengelberg: The Root Of The Problem. 1996. Hat Hut Records: hatOLOGY 504.

Misha Mengelberg: piano
in duos and trios with:
Steve Potts: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone
Thomas Heberer: trumpet
Michel Godard: tuba, serpent
Achim Kremer: percussion

Recorded over a 3-day stint at the Loft in Koln, these roots offer a glimpse at the small scale duo and trio approach toward "instant composition." Instant takes on the dual role of instantaneous improvisation and a navigation from/to/between instances in a manner that eschews formal symmetry in favor of a reactive dialogue between players. At times this sound favors sparse, yet colorful strokes along a canvas while at other times shards of surprisingly idiomatic jazz emerge from within these abstract textures. What keeps this music engaging is that each performer is willing to stand back, well clear of becoming the focal point as a "soloist," and allow the composition to develop and form under its own momentary logic. This works particularly well when the dialogue is between piano and brass as the duo between piano and tuba and the trio of piano, trumpet and tuba offer some of the most striking textures found on this disc.

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