Thursday, May 08, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: From Big Red to the Fantasy Etudes

Killick: Bull****. 2007. Sol Ponticello: 00261 22074.

Killick: 38-string harp guitar "big red"

Big red is the focal point of this excursion. The vessel constructed for this particular voyage. With an intonation and several timbral forays into territory reminiscent of Harry Partch's Kithara instrument this solo music takes a winding journey that spins a sonic universe entirely of Killick's creation. By the end of the story he tells through steady, yet wide ranging improvisation, my enthusiasm for this music has grown. At turns ugly, at other times bathed in painful beauty, this is an acoustic expression that straddles guitar, harp and double bass with an introspective sense of solo freedom.

Clusone 3: An Hour With... 2000. HatHut: hatOLOGY 554.

Michael Moore: alto saxophone, clarinet, melodica
Ernst Reijseger: cello
Han Bennink: drums

Given the explosive potential found both individually and collectively with the members of this trio there is a remarkable tension in just how restrained this hour of music is. Touching upon original compositions and bird themed tunes by Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Saint-Saens and several others the medleys that make up the bulk of this material offer up a feathering of vibrantly nuanced interpretation. The strummed cello playing of Ernst Reijseger brings an attractively unfretted chordal layer to this rhythm section that allows Moore's melodic lines to take flight and soar.

William Albright/PRISM Quartet: Music for Saxophones. 2007. Innova: 687.

PRISM Quartet:
Timothy McAllister: soprano saxophone
Michael Whitcombe: alto saxophone
Matthew Levy: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone
Taimur Sullivan: baritone saxophone, alto saxophone
University of Michigan Symphony Band
H. Robert Reynolds: conductor
Michael Lowenstern: bass clarinet
Marilyn Nonken: piano
Matthew Herskowitz: piano

Fantasy Etudes for Saxophone Quartet (1993)
Heater: Saga for alto saxophone and band (1977)
Pit Band for alto saxophone, bass clarinet and piano (1993)
Doo-Dah for three alto saxophones (1975)
Sonata for alto saxophone and piano (1984)

This one is a fascinating collection of composed works for saxophone with strong pull toward jazz harmony and idiomatic gestures. William Albright polished these intricate, idea drenched pieces while still leaving space for humor and levity to come through. Fantasy Etudes in particular is an excellent, wide-ranging composition that exposes just how much untapped potential lurks within the saxophone quartet medium. With an uncanny sense of proportion and duration these pieces unfold with surprising variation contained within their economic formal constructions. And the gradual transition between overtly "classical" textures into swing era jazz harmonies and gestures over the course of Heater is incredibly satisfying.

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