Saturday, September 22, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Razumovsky and Jalapeno Diplomacy

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets, volume III. Performed by the Orford String Quartet in 1986. Delos: DE 3033.

String Quartet in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1 ("Razumovsky")
String Quartet in A Major, Op. 18, No. 5

Andrew Dawes: violin
Kenneth Perkins: violin
Terence Helmer: viola
Denis Brott: cello

Opus 59 is the main attraction for me on this disc as this first of the three "Russian" quartets is such an outstanding mash-up of Classical and Romantic sensibilities. There are some abrupt transitions, unresolved dissonances and arrested harmonic transitions that keep this one interesting. In the wake of that piece, the Opus 18 feels like a polite, after-dinner work that squares away with familiar Classical conventions.

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost [box set] disc 2. 2004. Revenant Records: 213.

Albert Ayler Trio - June 14, 1964 at the Cellar Cafe, NYC
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Gary Peacock: bass
Sunny Murray: drums

Albert Ayler Quartet - September 3, 1964 at Cafe Montmartre, Copenhagen, Denmark
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Don Cherry: cornet
Gary Peacock: bass
Sunny Murray: drums

Burton Greene Quintet - February 1966 at Slugs', NYC
Burton Greene: piano
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Frank Smith: tenor saxophone
Steve Tintweiss: bass
Rashid Ali: drums

Once Ayler found his sound and his signature tone on the tenor he augmented the entire experience with the kindred spirits of his ensembles. This time through disc 2 I'm simply floored by Gary Peacock. How cool would it be to have Peacock and Sunny Murray in your rhythm section? And then you add Don Cherry for the Copenhagen set and come away with some outrageous creative fire. The loss of Ayler in 1970 seems more acute when you consider the careers of Peacock, Murray and Cherry over the span after 1964. The single track from the Burton Greene Quintet is a raging torrent of sonic fury with Ayler screaming (via his tenor) in the thick of it.

Tim Berne: Mind over Friction (collection, the): A re-issue of the classic Science Friction Live and Studio Recordings. 2001, 2003. Screwgun: sc700018.

Tim Berne: alto saxophone
Tom Rainey: drums
Craig Taborn: rhodes piano, laptop computer, virtual oragan
Marc Ducret: electric guitar, acoustic guitar

I've heard precious little of Tim Berne's music, but what little has hit my eardrums has been profoundly enjoyable enough to prod a deeper listening. And with this triple-CD re-issue of the Science Friction material I have a chance to drink from the fire hose of Berne's creative output. Or in this case, take a direct shot at point blank from a Screwgun.

With tightly wound compositions, improvisations, and dense, shifting textures Berne crafts a loud musical territory that is as much progressive rock as it is jazz - if not more on the prog side of the equation. The live sets found on discs 2 and 3 stretch the material out along much longer durations than the studio recording of the first disc. But there's a surprising continuity of sound between the David Torn post-processed mixes and the live recordings with Craig Taborn's electronic sounds and rhodes piano balancing well against Marc Ducret's intense guitar material. I'm stunned at how relentless this music is and how profoundly appealing it all is. These four players are incredible musicians. Music this complicated would be a complete disaster with anything less than what these guys bring to the mix and I'm anxious to hear more.

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