Sunday, June 15, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Soundtrack for a Revolution

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost [disc 4]. 2004. Revenant: 213.

Albert Ayler Quintet - April 17, 1966 @ La Cave, Cleveland, OH
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Don Ayler: trumpet
Frank Wright: tenor saxophone
Michel Samson: violin
Mutawef Shaheed: bass
Ronald Shannon Jackson: drums

One of the best aspects of the Holy Ghost box set is its documentation of these La Cave sets from 1966. This is an Albert Ayler led ensemble at the top of its game that draws the ears to the great interactions working on all levels with this group. I remain fascinated by Michel Samson's contribution to this sound and even more impressed with Ronald Shannon Jackson's drumming sensibilities within these Ayler compositions.

Iva Bittova/Bang on a Can All-Stars: Elida. 2005. Cantaloupe: CA21027.

Iva Bittova: violin, voice
Robert Black: bass
David Cossin: drums, percussion
Lisa Moore: piano
Mark Stewart: guitars
Wendy Sutter: cello
Evan Ziporyn: clarinets

An almost absurdly pleasant listening experience. Elida ripples with playful color and an ear for arrangements that buoy the Czech poetry and striking range of extended vocal technique employed by Iva Bittova. It's hard to believe that there's some intense violin playing working in parallel with the singing by this singular performer. The earthy, folk-rich materials are woven into a tapestry of smart textures animated by a balance of feel and technical accuracy by the All-Stars.

Louis Andriessen: De Staat. 1991. Elektra Nonesuch: 9 79251-2.

The Schoenberg Ensemble
Reinbert de Leeuw: conductor

I'm always floored by how much I dig this piece each time I revisit it. Louis Andriessen artfully turns Plato's pessimism about the power of particular modes and scales to undermine political power into a longing for sounds that have such potency to topple the entrenched and corrupt. If there really was such a politically viral harmony it seems as if Andriessen was searching for it in this forceful, pulsating music. An anarchistic Rite of Spring directed at the tone-deaf brokers of power. If "any alteration in the modes of music is always followed by alteration in the most fundamental laws of the state," then we should all be altering our modes until the walls come tumbling down. In the meantime, De Staat continues to be a HurdAudio indulgence.

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