Tuesday, January 22, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Dreaming the Long View

Marty Ehrlich: The Long View. 2002. Enja Records: ENJ-9452 2.

Marty Ehrlich: composer, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, bass clarinet
Sam Furnace: alto saxophone, flute
Ned Rothenberg: alto saxophone, bass clarinet
Robert DeBellis: tenor saxophone, clarinet, soprano saxophone
JD Parran: tenor saxophone, contrabass clarinet
Andy Laster: baritone saxophone, clarinet
Eddie Allen: trumpet
James Zollar: trumpet
John Clark: french horn
Clark Gayton: trombone
Marcus Rojas: tuba
Mark Dresser: bass
Michael Sarin: drums
Mark Helias: conductor, bass
Mark Feldman: violin
Ralph Farris: viola
Erik Friedlander: cello
Eddie Bobe: bongos, cowbell
Bobby Previte: drums, bass drum, tambourine
Wayne Horvitz: piano
Ray Anderson: trombone
Pheeroan AkLaff: drums

One of Ehrlich's better efforts - and he hasn't had any weak creative outings that I've heard. With a long form mix of through-composed and improvised music for ensembles ranging from duo to 14-piece bands this is an ambitions and deliriously satisfying work of chamber jazz. With so many key players from the New York "downtown" scene this one is a must-have and must-hear from the personnel list to the multi-hued timbres that blow through the speakers. The rockin' tuba of Marcus Rojas to kick off the sixth movement is reason enough to put this one into regular rotation.

Dave Douglas Quintet: Live at the Bimhuis. 2002. Greenleaf: Paperback Series vol. 1.

Dave Douglas: trumpet
Rick Margitza: tenor saxophone
Uri Caine: fender rhodes
James Genus: bass
Clarence Penn: drums

It's odd how when the Bad Plus play covers of pop tunes they find themselves falsely accused of being "ironic" while the Dave Douglas Quintet can put a spin on Bjork, Beck and Rufus Wainwright without similar charges. Right or wrong, the Bad Plus have developed a reputation for "cheeky covers" despite the strength of their original charts. While the Dave Douglas Quintet does take some sidelong swipes at pop culture - and transforms it onto something else entirely - it's the Dave Douglas originals that deliver the sonic goods with this ensemble. One of the advantages of running his own label (long live Greenleaf Music!) is the ability to lavish plenty of attention on this quintet's live sound. Having seen this group live a couple of times in two different cities I know first hand how incredible the live experience is with this quintet.

Ursel Schlicht/Reuben Radding: Einstein's Dreams. 2005. Konnex Records: KCD 5165.

Ursel Schlicht: piano
Reuben Radding: bass

There are many reasons why improvisers record so many duo projects - not the least of which being the sonic gem of Einstein's Dreams that unfolds within the focused interaction between two individual performers. With the creative minds in alignment, the piano and bass fold together as two large instruments with strings. The textures of extended techniques building outward in the aptly named "Unexpected Vision" is counterbalanced by the melodic fragments that fly in "Modulation of Light." Schlicht and Radding seem to push each other on as they answer textural shifts with new challenges of their own. One compelling reason for duo projects such as this is the stunning and rare kinship struck between like minds exploring such expansive territories and the clarity of such independent sonic identities finding immediate recognition within such spontaneous creation.

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