Saturday, November 08, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: The Evolving Sound of Jazz

Erik Friedlander: Topaz. 1998. SIAM Records: SMD-50003.

Erik Friedlander: cello
Andy Laster: alto saxophone
Stomu Takeishi: bass
Satoshi Takeishi: percussion

Revisiting this disc is always a pleasure. Erik Friedlander's timbral range and lyrical qualities as an improvising cellist is well known (and celebrated) by these ears. The compositional quirks and turns of these pieces are something to anticipate. The rhythm section of Takeishi and Takeishi is a great sound on its own. But this time through this standard of the late 1990's New York jazz sound I'm struck by Andy Laster's alto saxophone playing. His playing compliments Friedlander's so well - often receding into the sonic canvas with a tone evenly matched against bowed and pizzicato lines - and weaving along melodic contours with such tight articulation that the cello and alto saxophone nearly become a single instrument running in counterpoint to the fretless electric bass and percussion.

Ellery Eskelin/Andrea Parkins/Jim Black: Five Other Pieces (+2). 1999. Hat Hut Records: hatOLOGY 533.

Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone
Andrea Parkins: accordion, sampler
Jim Black: percussion

Ellery Eskelin gets a sound - particularly with this trio - that takes odd turns through expansive textural territory. With Five Other Pieces (+2) that range is applied to the anchoring reference points of five "covers" contrasted against two originals. The result is a compelling argument for Eskelin's evolving place in jazz history and the sonic fabric of its ever expanding traditions. "The Dance of Maya" retains the visceral thrill of the McLaghlin original within the stripped down (and accordion driven) instrumentation while Coletrane's "India" holds its characteristic beauty after a long, freely improvised introduction. This one continues to grow on me with each pass through the rotation.

Jewels & Binoculars: Floater. 2003. Ramboy: 20.

(plays the music of Bob Dylan)
Michael Moore: alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, melodica, bells
Lindsey Horner: bass
Michael Vatcher: percussion

My listening history puts me at an odd perspective with Jewels & Binoculars in that I haven't spent any time getting familiar with the music of Bob Dylan - the compositional source and inspiration for the music performed by this trio. What I do hear is the inspiration. The reverential yet playful vibe at work in performing and improvising around these melodic beauties. These particular players are worth paying attention in any context. That they choose to ply their ability to this particular body of work makes for fascinating vibrations.

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