Saturday, November 03, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: The -man Edition - Feldman/Coleman

Morton Feldman: Works for Piano. 1990. Hat Hut Records: CD 6035.

Marianne Schroeder: piano

Intermission 5 (1952)
Piano Piece to Philip Guston (1963)
Vertical Thoughts 4 (1963)
Piano (1977)
Palais de mari for Francesco Clemente (1986)

These piano works consist of the barest of strokes as each gesture recedes into the stillness. The silence is barely intruded upon by the soft ripples set in motion by a deliberate quietness. Like much of Morton Feldman's music, these pieces demand a unique space that stands in sharp contrast to a noise filled world. The long, languid durations of Piano and Palais de mari exist in a rarefied open space that effortlessly draw the attentive listener toward serene meditation.

Morton Feldman: Complete Works for Two Pianists. 2002. Alice Musik Production: ALCD 024.

Mats Persson: piano
Kristine Scholz: piano

Vertical Thouhts 1 for Two Pianos (1963)
Intermission 6 for One or Two Pianos (1953)
Projection 3 for Two Pianos (1951)
Intermission 6 for One or Two Pianos (1953)
Two Pieces for Two Pianos (1954)
Piano (Three Hands) (1957)
Intermission 6 for One or Two Pianos (1953)
Piano Four Hands (1958)
Work for Two Pianists (1958)
Ixion - For Two Pianos (1958)
rmission 6 for One or Two Pianos (1953)
Two Pianos (1957)

Even the air stands still in the midst of Feldman's piano music. The presence of two pianos and/or three to four hands adds only color while the sense of size is strictly temporal. Spare gestures come and go, occasionally repeating, without the slightest nod toward formal development. This is a music of proportions and suspended states as opposed to narrative drive. It is other worldly and painfully beautiful. And it is a music that is so close in spirit and practice to the abstract paintings that Feldman admired as to distance itself from centuries of cumulated assumptions about musical practice.

Ornette Coleman: Beauty is a Rare Thing - [disc 1]. Recorded in 1959, re-released in 1993. Rhino/Atlantic Jazz: R2 71410.

Ornette Coleman: alto saxophone
Don Cherry: cornet
Charlie Haden: bass
Billy Higgins: drums

I'll just start by stating the obvious: if you have a genuine love for jazz then you already own this box set. Beauty is a Rare Thing is mandatory listening as it's hard to imagine the history of jazz from 1960 on if these sessions hadn't been recorded.

Disc one presents the chronological recordings from May 22, 1959 and part of October 8, 1959. These are the sessions that produced The Shape of Jazz to Come (both literally and in title) as well as tracks from The Art of the Improvisers, Change of the Century, Twins and To Whom Who Keeps a Record. Given the astonishing quality of this music and way it continues to affect these ears with each new listening the set list reads like poetry:

Focus On Sanity
Lonely Woman
Monk And The Nun
Just For You
Una Muy Bonita
Bird Food
Change of the Century
Music Always

Each title stirring the heart and mind with reverence and passion. Each performance filled with even more nuance and brilliance that shifts into focus with increasing clarity with every listening. It's amazing how all the different parts of this music lock into place. From the melodic contours of these enduring compositions to the free improvisations that infuse every second with human vitality to the inspired interplay between four awe-inspiring musicians, this music will continue to shape jazz to come as time shades deeper into the 21st century.

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