Sunday, September 16, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Tenor, Alto and Latin Prayers

Ellery Eskelin: Vanishing Point. 2001. Hat Hut Records: hatOLOGY 577.

Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone
Mat Maneri: viola
Erik Friedlander: cello
Mark Dresser: bass
Matt Moran: vibraphone

Ah, the sweet sounds of Eskelin's tenor with strings. But this isn't the saccharine, faceless wash of backing strings over sinewy show tune melodies any more than Matt Moran's vibraphone is a "heavy metal" addition to this sound. This is a meeting of five equals as each spontaneously contributes to the final sound. And putting five great improvisers in a studio together is a winning formula. This one even more so. There's some big ears, big chops and lot of surprising moments on this disc.

Ornette Coleman: Sound Grammar. 2006. Sound Grammar: SG11593.

Ornette Coleman: saxophone, violin, trumpet
Denardo Coleman: drums, percussion
Gregory Cohen: bass
Tony Falanga: bass

We should all sound this good at age 76. Ornette Coleman keeps the harmolodic fires burning with this great quartet. With a melodic sensibility and improvisational genius that has never stopped evolving as Coleman is completely "on" for this live set in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The texture of one arco bass, one pizzicato bass, and the loose-yet-centered drumming of Denardo Coleman is an ideal sonic bed for Ornette's sonic language. Everything he's ever done will always be compared to those breakout Atlantic recordings. One should not be blinded by his brilliant past when drinking in his thrilling recent outings.

Giacinto Scelsi: Natura Renovatur. 2005. ECM: New Series 1963/476 3106.

Francis-Marie Uitti: cello (on all tracks)
Munchener Kammerorchester:
Christoph Poppen: conductor
Muriel Cantoreggi, Max Peter meis, Romuald Kozik, Clara Baek, Michaela Buchholz, Viktor Konjaev, Bernhard Jestl, Mary Mader: violins
Kelvin Hawthorne, Nancy Sullivan, Stefan Berg, Aidan Pendleton: violas
Peter Bachmann, Michael Weiss, Benedikt Jira, Claudia Weiss: cellos
Veronika Papai: double-bass

Ohoi for 16 strings (1966)
Ave Maria for violoncello solo (1970) from: Three Latin Prayers for solo voice
Anagamin for 11 strings
Ygghur for voiloncello solo (1961) from Trilogy - The three ages of Man
Natura renovatur for 11 strings (1967)
Alleluja for voiloncello solo (1970)

While each work in this collection is an astonishing piece of shimmering beauty - each well recorded and superbly performed - it is the solo pieces played by Francis-Marie Uitti that are the most devastating in this collection. Ygghur for solo cello being the most intense, focused work of them all. Given the unique working relationship formed between Uitti and Scelsi and the depths of Scelsi's creativity and spiritual focus that Uitti plumbs with so much authenticity I can only wish that ECM had had the courage to make this a full length CD of solo cello music. But given a choice between exquisite versus devastatingly exquisite this is a small complaint. The strains of Alleluja from Three Latin Prayers for solo voice that Uitti lovingly unfolds at the close of this listening experience painfully superb.

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