Wednesday, October 03, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Improvising for Change

Charlie Haden/Liberation Music Orchestra: Not In Our Name. 2005. Verve: B0004949-02.

Charlie Haden: bass
Carla Bley: piano, arrangements
Michael Rodriguez: trumpet
Seneca Black: trumpet
Curtis Fowlkes: trombone
Arnee Sharon Freeman: french horn
Joe Daley: tuba
Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone
Chris Cheek: tenor saxophone
Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone
Steve Cardenas: guitar
Matt Wilson: drums

Beauty as a form of contempt. Jazz in the face of mounting injustice. Carla Bley has fashioned some of the most shamelessly tuneful and astonishingly gorgeous arrangements of patriotic music in pure defiance of the ugliness flowing from Washington, DC. "This Is Not America" and the "America the Beautiful (Medley)" are an endless source of chills while the big band take on Bill Frisell's "Throughout" retains the formal crescendo of the original version and builds upon it. It may not change the world, but Not In Our Name offers hope that the human spirit will continue to be stronger than anything republican administrations bring about and that the desire to lift every voice and sing will eventually overcome the bleakest of days.

T.E.C.K. String Quartet: String 4tet. 2007. Clean Feed: CF089CD.

Tomas Ulrich: cello
Elliott Sharp: acoustic guitar, national tricone
Carlos "Zingaro": violin
Ken Filiano: double bass

Free improvised textures from the contrasting sensibilities of these four musicians as they form the unusual guitar/violin/cello/bass variant of the string quartet. The sonic sculpting works well even as it feels like the chemistry between these players hadn't fully coalesced at the time of this recording. The unfamiliarity and probing of one another adds an edge and an unpredictability to the overall sound as each player generously subsumes their own identity in favor of a group sound.

Gunda Gottschalk/Peter Jacquemyn/Ute Volker: Baggerboot. 2005. Henceforth Records: 102.

Gunda Gottschalk: violin
Peter Jacquemyn: bass
Ute Volker: accordion

"Improvisation is musical survival in the meta-cultural soundscape that is thriving, throbbing and sending new possibilities for relationships in a world littered with the millennial old patterns of argument as war. In this music there is negotioation, give and take in intimate and open spaces."
- Pauline Oliveros (from the liner notes)
The give and take of a range spanning from double bass up through violin with an accordion in the middle makes for a gritty, reed-tinged timbre for this trio of free improvisers. At times lyrical, at other times a wash of abstract textures and colors with generous space for each individual contribution this disc is a rewarding listen - even more so for this particular spin in the rotation.

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