Sunday, December 14, 2008

Going Micro

Alexander Bruck with Jacob Wick/Andrew Greenwald Duo @ The Red Room, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, December 13, 2008

Alexander Bruck: viola - solo and in a trio with
Jacob Wick: trumpet
Andrew Greenwald: percussion

The solo viola works featured by Alexander Bruck venture into a suspended state where the smallest gesture brings enormous gravity. This was particularly the case with Hiram Navarrete's wonderful Untitled piece recently composed for Bruck. Within a generous expanse of time, the angle of the bow as either hair or wood make slight contact with the string runs along an expansive sense of timbre within a sonic set confined to minute details. Son de la Roma by Carlos Iturralde exposes a similar, stark soundscape with a mix of plucked and bowed timbres at the core. Zona 2, for viola and electronics, by Ivan Naranjo brings amplified materials into the mix while still retaining a focus on sound emerging from the smallest details. Bruck offered focused, intense performances that pulled the ears into profoundly quiet spaces that nearly merged with the sound of passing cars outside the building or the slight hum of the refrigerator in the back of the Red Room.

Jacob Wick and Andrew Greenwald opened the evening with a short set of improvised material similarly focused upon a texture of slights. Wick explored the passage of air through a trumpet, at times obstructed by a turned valve or mute. At other times the rush of breath was released through the dissembled pieces of the instrument. Greenwald added the sound of friction-based percussion to the soundscape. Much of this music existed at a volume level that often signals the perceived "ending" in free improvisation. This pair managed to sustain these textures with confidence while navigating several organic textural shifts.

The evening concluded with an improvised trio of focused, microscopic sound. A collaboration that came naturally with these talented improvisers so well matched together. The sounds of music from passing cars outside offered a sharp contrast that melted in with the sounds of the plumbing in the building and the bowing of a wood block set upon a drum head.

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