Sunday, November 23, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Works for/with Piano and A Good Church Organ Freak Out

NOW Orchestra & Marilyn Crispell: Pola. 2005. Victo: cd 097.

Marilyn Crispell: piano
Kate Hammett-Vaughan: voice
Bruce Freedman: alto saxophone
Graham Ord: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
Saul Berson: alto saxophone, clarinet, flute
John Korsrud: trumpet, bugle
Kevin Elaschuk: trumpet, bugle
Rod Murray: trombone
Brad Muirhead: bass trombone
Ron Samworth: guitar
Paul Blaney: bass
Clyde Reed: bass
Dylan van der Schyff: drums
Coat Cooke: baritone saxoophone, tenor saxophone, flute, artistic director

Vancouver group improvisation meets Marilyn Crispell of Woodstock, NY. And the results are every bit as intoxicating as the combination of these elements would suggest. This has the feel of a NOW comprovisation with generous splashes of Crispell's pianistic sound. Though Paul Plimley - NOW's regular pianist - is also a favorite of mine and the chance to mix those two contrasting forces on the ivories feels like a missed opportunity. Not that any part of this recording is empty or lacking. The ensemble shifts generously between large and small subgroups with plenty of free swinging from every angle.

The Sun Ra All Stars Band - Stars That Shine Darkly: Hiroshima. Recorded in 1983. Released on LP in 2007. Art Yard: LP 2007.

Sun Ra: piano, pipe organ
John Gilmore: tenor saxophone
Marshall Allen: alto saxophone
Archie Shepp: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
Don Cherry: pocket trumpet
Lester Bowie: trumpet
Philly Joe Jones: drums
Richard Davis: bass
Don Moye: drums, percussion
Clifford Jarvis: drums

That's a serious list of "all stars" to contend with. And that's just the crew on the "B-side" of this vinyl wonder. "Hiroshima" is Sun Ra painting in deeply explosive hues on the church organ with some light percussion accompaniment. It's a performance that treads into extremes of expressive Ra and heat with all the expansive duration of a single side. And it leaves a mark. Then there's the formidable cast on the flip side playing "Stars that Shine Darkly." Different Ra canvas featuring a medium of collaborative creation pointed toward the same severity of Ra-ism. Heavy, luminous and every bit the real, surreal and undiluted deal. This is a tough entry point for those unfamiliar with the Saturnian great one. But an excellent document for those already riding the Spaceways.

Dane Rudhyar: Works for Piano. 2004. Hat Hut: hat[now]ART 140.

Steffen Schleiermacher: piano

Jagged, dissonantly beautiful solo works for piano from the underrated composer and astrologist. Steffen Schleiermacher plumbs the range between quiet and blisteringly loud in these demanding works that leaves the ears ringing with this resonant force. The harmonic language is that remarkable, early twentieth century American sensibility that feels out dissonance through intuition over system. The titles bear the images of star signs and pentagrams that suggest an overtly mystical side to this music. Rudhyar is a long standing fascination for these ears.

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