Wednesday, September 19, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: From A Window I Can See A Beautiful and Pastoral Day

Wayne Horvitz/4+1 Ensemble: From A Window. 2001. Disk Union: Avan 080.

Wayne Horvitz: composer, piano, prepared piano, hammond B-3, pump organ, synthesizers, toy piano
Eyvind Kang: violin, viola
Tucker Martine: live electronic processing, live drum machine
Julian Priester: trombone
Reggie Watts: keyboards, vocals, live drum machine, piano
Skerik: baritone saxophone

Wayne Horvitz nails such a unique balance on this disc. An exquisitely quiet sound filled with so much electronic detail and live sound manipulation with plenty of breathing room for the melodic contours and great arrangements to weave throughout the sound. And for all its restraint and brittle, quiet details, there's a deeply satisfying sense of rhythmic groove that keeps the ears buoyant and the foot tapping.

Andrew Hill: A Beautiful Day. 2002. Palmetto Records: PM 2085.

Andrew Hill: piano
Scott Colley: bass
Nasheet Waits: drums
Aaron Stewart: tenor saxophone
John Savage: alto saxophone, flute
Marty Ehrlich: alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute
Greg Tardy: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
J.D. Parron: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
Ron Horton: trumpet
Dave Ballou: trumpet
Laurie Frinck: trumpet
Bruce Staalens: trumpet
Charlie Gordon: trombone
Joe Fiedler: trombone
Mike Fahn: trombone
Jose D'Avila: tuba

A beautiful day indeed. The crowd seems severely under-enthused given the caliber of playing and arranging being presented in this live set at New York's Birdland. But then, Andrew Hill's genius is found in the understatement that marks so much of his work. These pieces are packed with so many ideas that it's amazing how light and unencumbered they feel. With so much to focus on with this 16-piece ensemble - with generous helping of sub-groups and solos - I find my ears drawn to the drumming of Nasheet Waits this time around. Outstanding. Not to mention the tasty flute and bass clarinet timbres.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F major (op. 68) "Pastorale". Recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1993. Conducted by Mark Ermler. The International Music Company: 205298-305.

Of all the Beethoven Symphonies, the appeal of the sixth seems the least immediate somehow. First of all, it's the most familiar, the most abused by "background music" operations and advertising by far as it gets diced and excerpted as some kind of shorthand for "idyllic" or "tranquil." Then there is the whole "pastoral" element, standing in sharp contrast to the explosive energy of the fifth symphony. It seems "less serious." Though as it turns out, the whole pastoral, peaceful quality is deceptive. Because when taken as a whole - as Beethoven wrote it long before Madison Avenue stripped it of all formal consequence - this one sneaks up and slowly reveals itself for the brilliant orchestration, compositionally balanced conception and beautiful harmonic development that it is.

uTopian Turtletop recently shared his listening experience with this work.

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