Saturday, December 15, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: From Mumbo to Ionisation

Jim Staley: Mumbo Jumbo. 1993. Einstein Records: 004.

Jim Staley: trombone
with various trio configurations of -
Wayne Horvitz: piano, DX-7, RX-11 drum machine
Elliott Sharp: double-neck guitar/bass, soprano saxophone
Shelley Hirsch: voice
Samm Bennett: drums, percussion, electronic percussion
Bill Frisell: guitar
Ikue Mori: drums, drum machine
Fred Frith: electric and acoustic guitars, vocals
John Zorn: alto saxophone

A sonic glimpse of a golden age of downtown free improvisation. Recorded in 1986, this is a sampling of several exciting improvisers at an early stage of their sound. "Swale" opens with the Elliott Sharp guitar sound that initially drew my ears this scene and at nearly 8 minutes it is the track on this collection of predominantly short, episodic bursts that features some improvisational stretching between Staley, Sharp and Horvitz. The shortness of these pieces is both the greatest strength and failing of this release. At turns exquisite bursts - and the short form is the best showcase of Shelley Hirsch's voice - there are times when one craves a more epic burst from the talents assembled for these trios.

Roscoe Mitchell Sextet: Sound. 1966. Re-released in 1996. Delmark Records: DE-408.

Roscoe Mitchell: alto saxophone, clarinet, recorder, etc.
Lester Bowie: trumpet, flugelhorn, harmonica
Lester Lashley: trombone, cello
Maurice McIntyre: tenor saxophone
Malachi Favors: bass
Alvin Fielder: drums

In an unusual re-ordering of tracks this edition begins with an alternate take of "Ornette." This so-called outtake is as good as anything else from this collection and a good appetizer for the main course of "Sound 1" and "Sound 2." The re-ordering is actually a chronological presentation of the order these pieces were recorded over two sessions in 1966. The vitality of the music yet to come from the AACM scene is in evidence here and the Lester Bowie material is outstanding. This is a significant document from one of the giants of improvised music.

Edgard Varese: The Complete Works. 1994. Decca Record Company: 289 460 208-2.

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
ASKO Ensemble
Riccardo Chailly: conductor

It's always a good idea to touch base with the rich sonic universe of Edgard Varese. This one is a sound that plays a prominent role in the HurdAudio sensibility. While I'm generally not a big fan of musique concrete works, Poeme electronique is an exceptional work that continues to sound fresh and more vital than more contemporary works within the medium.

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