Wednesday, November 05, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Of Repetition and Harmolodics

Miles Davis: The Complete On The Corner Sessions [disc 2]. 1972 (re-released in 2007). Sony-Legacy Music: 88697 06239 2-D2.

Miles Davis: trumpet
Carlos Garnett: soprano saxophone
Bennie Maupin: bass clarinet, flute
Herbie Hancock: electric piano, organ
Lonnie Liston Smith or Harold Ivory Williams: electric piano
Colin Walcott: electric sitar
Michael Henderson: electric bass
Al Foster, Billy Hart: drums
Don Alias: kalimba, African percussion
Badal Ray: tablas
Cedric Lawson: organ
Reggie Lucas: guitar
Khalil Balakrishna: electric sitar
Mtume: congas

An absolutely delirious, funky mess. The combination of way-above average musical chops (in crazy abundance) with deep grooves leaves this music hovering just above the indulgences of an all out jam session. Surprises routinely emerge from this thick, repetition heavy texture. More than anything it's the gravity of the pulse that leaves the deepest impression.

Ornette Coleman: Beauty is a Rare Thing: The Complete Atlantic Recordings [disc 1]. 1993. Atlantic/Rhino Records: R2 71410.

Ornette Coleman: alto saxophone
Don Cherry: cornet
Charlie Haden: bass
Billy Higgins: drums

Beauty is a Rare Thing is still the model of what makes a great jazz box set. This first disc delivers the same jolt that vaulted the harmolodic genius - and his other worldly quartet - into the collective consciousness. From a session recorded May 22, 1959, everything about this music crackles with discovery and confidence in a new sound that endures. A music that runs so deep in my own psyche that the personnel and set list reads like poetry. Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins. And those twelve pieces: Focus on Sanity, Chronology, Peace, Congeniality, Lonely Woman, Monk and the Nun, Just for You, Eventually, Una Muy Bonita, Bird Food, Change of the Century and Music Always. Much of this session found its way onto The Shape of Jazz to Come. A title that risked pretension before becoming prophecy.

Michael Gordon/Alarm Will Sound: Van Gogh. 2007. Cantaloupe Music: CA21044.

Michael Gordon: composer
Alarm Will Sound -
Alan Pierson: conductor
Sarah Chalfy: soprano
Matthew Hensrud: tenor
Clay Greenberg: bass
Elisabeth Stimpert: clarinet, bass clarinet
Payton MacDonald: percussion
Dennis DeSantis: percussion
Courtney Orlando: piano
Ryan Ferreira: electric guitar
Caleb Burhans: violin
John Pickford Richards: viola
Steffan Freund: cello
Miles Brown: bass

A minimalist setting of the letters of Vincent Van Gogh to his brother. A piece teased out of a long gestation period as it was originally composed in the late 1980's before being re-arranged for Alarm Will Sound in 2005. The immediate sonic details are the aesthetic offspring of Louis Andriessen and Steve Reich - familiar composers within the Bang on a Can pantheon co-founded by Michael Gordon. Van Gogh is a rich and beautiful portrayal of innocent madness. An expressive account of bewilderment and commitment to artistic muse at the expense of pragmatic survival. The music itself nearly begs to be hung on the wall like a Van Gogh painting and admired for its detail and color.

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