Sunday, November 30, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Brothers in Exile

Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath: Bremen to Bridgwater. 1971, 1975. Re-released in 2004. Cuneiform Records: Rune 182/183.

Keith Bailey: drums
Harry Beckett: trumpet
Marc Charig: trumpet
Elton Dean: alto saxophone
Nick Evans: trombone
Mongezi Feza: trumpet
Bruce Grant: baritone saxophone
Malcolm Griffiths: trombone
Radu Malfatti: trombone
Chris McGregor: piano
Harry Miller: double bass
Louis Moholo-Moholo: drums
Mike Osborne: alto saxophone, clarinet
Evan Parker: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
Dudu Pukwana: alto saxophone
Alan Skidmore: tenor saxophone
Gary Windo: tenor saxophone

Is there such a thing as a cogent defense of South Africa's Apartheid policy? Was this just complete greed and racism overriding justice and idealism? Is there a more joy filled big band sound than what the Brotherhood of Breath put together? And their crime, their life lived in exile, was the "unthinkable" and "intolerable" act of playing with a mixed-race ensemble. I will never understand the complete deafness required not to hear past such petty racism. While in exile, these creative talents continued to "mix" things up with the European improvisers that pushed large ensemble playing into new territories. And this double-CD is a massive sampling of what emanated from this great ensemble. I hear no crimes in this music. Simply a massing of players putting on live performances filled with righteous electricity.

One of the better papers presented at this year's Guelph Jazz Festival and Colloquium was Karl Evangelista's The Blue Notes: Free Music and Exile in the Apartheid Era. An effort to bring ears and academic attention to the important slice of improvised musical history through the story of the Blue Notes (who would later form The Brotherhood of Breath while in exile). Other than providing a wealth of concrete examples of the absurdity of South Africa's past policy (absurdities that cannot be overstated) this attention to the sound these musicians formed is much overdue and immensely rewarding to the souls who seek out these recordings.

Forbes Graham: Another Return. 2007. CD-R available from the composer.

Forbes Graham: trumpet, laptop computer

The sounds of the human nervous system pulsating with electrical signal of that system were housed within the brass skin of a trumpet. Otherworldly. An imagined ecosystem of micro-noise and amplification realized with electronics. A realization of expansiveness within confined spaces. Intuition plays a role in realizing this music. It's all the more intriguing, and breathing with life for it.

Alireza Mashayekhi/Ata Ebtekar (aka Sote): Persian Electronic Music: Yesterday and Today 1966 - 2006. 2006. Sub Rosa: SR277.

Alireza Mahayekhi: electronics
Ata Ebtekar (aka Sote): electronics

Two composers with a voice and cultural grounding in Iran plying their considerable talent to electronic means. Each offers up an odd mix of computer and tape music aesthetics with an ear for music and sounds that are distinctly middle Eastern. Alireza Mahayekhi takes the musique concrete approach that succeeds when creating an environment and succeeds less well when the sonic texture turns toward instruments and synthesized patches. Ata Ebtekar offers a blend of environment, manipulated voice and instruments that takes several turns toward a severe sense of beauty.

Scale of the Day: G Dorian diminished 4 1% narrow

GDorianDiminished4-1PercentNarrow

The G Dorian diminished 4 1% narrow Scale. This time applying a slight intervallic compression to this altered Dorian.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Scale of the Day: G Dorian 3% wide

GDorian3PercentWide

The G Dorian 3% wide Scale. Featuring the biting dissonance of a 1236-cent wide octave as the interval of "harmonic equivalence."

Friday, November 28, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Spaceways Incorporated

Peter Apfelbaum & The Hieroglyphics Ensemble: Jodoji Brightness. 1992. Polygram Records/Antilles: 314-512 320-2.

Peter Apfelbaum: tenor saxophone, piano, organ, synthesizer, drums, percussion
Bill Ortiz: trumpet, flugelhorn
Jeff Cressman: trombone, pyramid bell, percussion
James Harvey: trombone
Paul Hanson: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, bassoon
Tony Jones: tenor saxophone
Peck Allmond: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, trumpet
Norbert Stachel: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, bass saxophone, clarinet, flute, piccolo
Will Bernard: guitar
Stan Franks: guitar
Jai Uttal: guitar, harmonium, dotar, percussion
Bo Freeman: bass
Joshua Jones V: drums, timbales, bass drum, congas, bata, vocals
Deszon X. Claiborne: drums, percussion
"Buddha" Robert Huffman: congas, bell tree, gongs, bata, vocals
Rachel Durling: violin
Steven Bernstein: trumpet
Sekou Heath: bata, percussion, vocals

A dear friend, and frequent companion in the rotation, to these ears. Wonderful ensemble writing. A pan-stylistic approach to jazz that folds in a world of materials with respect for the history and humanity running throughout its various roots. Never a phrase or nod that feels anything less than deeply felt and human. One of the great recordings due some kind of revival.

Sun Ra: Disco 3000: Complete Milan Concert 1978. 2007. Art Yard Records: CD 001.

Sun Ra: piano, organ, moog synthesizer, rhythm machine, vocals
John Gilmore: tenor saxophone, drums, vocals
Luqman Ali: drums, vocals
Michael Ray: trumpet, vocals
June Tyson: vocals

How did this dimension contain the force of Sun Ra for as long as it did? Sun Ra with a great band working the outer limits (and a bit beyond) over a prolonged live show in Milan. At the core of the analog technology, the free blowing freak outs and sonic excursions well into the ether is a solid sense of the tunes (or even the blues). Space is a friendly place and Ra owns a big piece of it on this session. Many kudos to the folks at Art Yard for getting this double-CD out where more earth folks can experience it.

The Peter Brötzmann Octet: The Complete Machine Gun Sessions. 1968. Re-released in 2007. Atavistic/FMP: ALP262CD.

Peter Brötzmann: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone
Sven-Ake Johansson: drums
Peter Kowald: Bass
Willem Breuker: tenor saxophone
Fred Van Hove: piano
Evan Parker: tenor saxophone
Buschi Niebergall: bass
Han Bennink: drums

The legendary European free jazz bombshell is still lethal. The relentless onslaught would send most running for cover long before one gets past the original LP material in this "complete" collection. A much needed reminder that jazz - and all musics - is entirely capable of working the relaxation-hostile end of the spectrum. Smoothing the rough edges of Machine Gun out would leave nothing in its wake. And it's a necessary and memorable experience for it. But then, they don't call it "pop gun" and these players aren't firing blanks.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Dorian 2% wide

EFlatDorian2PercentWide-interval-analysis

The intervallic content of the E Flat Dorian 2% wide Scale.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Double-ö Dönkey

Donkey Monkey: Ouature. 2007. Umlaut Records: UMCD 0005.

Yuko Oshima: drums, voice, sampler
Eve Risser: piano, voice, turntables

This one is completely ridiculous. And I say that in the widest sense of joy carried in that word. This one boogies off the track. Then woogies back on. All the while splashing a tight irreverence along a solid piano/drums duo plus turntables, prepared piano, voice and whatever else one can throw at a sound without losing a sense of joy an chops. In short: ridiculous fun! Highly, highly recommended.

Chicago Tentet: American Landscapes 1. 2007. Okkadisk: OD12067.

Peter Brötzmann: clarinet, tarogato, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
Mats Gustafsson: baritone saxophone, slide saxophone
Ken Vandermark: clarinet, baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone
Joe McPhee: trumpet, alto saxophone
Hannes Bauer: trombone
Per-Ake Holmlander: tuba
Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello
Kent Kessler: bass
Paal Nilssen-Love: drums
Michael Zerang: drums

What better way to observe the American traditional Thanksgiving Holiday than a pure blast of Brötzmann driven expression of humanity through a prolonged scream realized in free jazz style through the medium of the Chicago Tentet? A landscape of nuanced brutality. A single movement that snakes through the urban and the underground gritty sincerity of placing horn to mouth and blowing one's brains out the other end. Aggressive, jarring and unbelievably beautiful.

Peter Brötzmann/Michael Zerang: Live in Beirut. 2005. Al Maslakh Recordings: 03.

Peter Brötzmann: tenor saxophone, tarogato, clarinet
Michael Zerang: drum set, darbuka, percussion

Another concentrated dose of that Brötzmann intensity, this time paired down to the sax and drum configuration that he frequents. The setting of Beirut - something only audible through knowing this was recorded there - adds a dimension to the unflinching coarseness of this duo collaboration. The willingness to apply sandpaper to the eardrums when called for makes the expression more credible. Though there are moments of relative solitude. Often just long enough to allow for healing. This serves to heighten the overwhelming sense of not knowing where the next aggressive gesture will come from. A fitting aesthetic for a city constantly on edge with the unsettling violence that inevitably erupts.

HurdAudio Rotation: Railin'

Anthony Braxton 12+1tet: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 - disc 2. Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.

Recorded live: March 16, 2006 at Iridium Jazz Club, New York City.

The Anthony Braxton 12+1tet
Anthony Braxton: composer, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, sopranino saxophone, clarinet and Eb contalto clarinet
Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, flugelhorn, trumpbone, piccolo trumpet, bass trumpet, shell
Andrew Raffo Dewar: soprano saxophone, c-melody saxophone, clarinet
James Fei: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Mary Halvorson: electric guitar
Stephen H. Lehman: alto saxophone, sopranino saxophone
Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute, bass flute, piccolo, voice
Jessica Pavone: viola, violin
Reut Regev: trombone, flugelbone
Jay Rozen: tuba, euphonium
Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon, suona
Aaron Siegel: percussion, vibraphone
Carl Testa: acoustic bass, bass clarinet

Disc 2 = Composition 351 - dedicated to the composer/scholar Harvey Sollberger
The ghost trance music of Anthony Braxton is a compelling slice of the modular body of works that makes up the Baxton catalogue. The overall duration of these pieces - at approximately an hour each in this box set - in conjunction with the collectivist sound of the ensemble achieved through improvisative means pulls at a sense of ritual through a number of approaches toward linear and pulse logics. A textural wash along an ambitious canvas with endless threads of detail woven in from these individual players. A cerebral swing with meditative intent. These ears dig it and offer up a respectful nod to the staggering ideas Braxton has set into motion through sound.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Symphonies [disc 1]. Recorded in 1994. The International Music Company: 205297-305.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Symphony No. 1 in C Major (op. 21)

Barry Wordsworth: conductor

Symphony No. 2 in D Major (op. 36)
James Lockhart: conductor

As far as historical referential points go, the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven are about as dense a gravitational center one can expect to find. It is possible to effect a renewal with any work of art. But this is more so with the highly fetish-like works from this canon. There is a reason so many ears ret
urn to these familiar works - and it's more than the familiarity at work. Starting my own "renewal" with the first two symphonies marks a return to the Hayden-esque roots of Beethoven. The churning, classical sound with a larger sense of polished momentum lurking underneath. The harmonic turns that rattle the chains - but don't actually break them the way later works would.

Marty Ehrlich: News on the Rail. 2005. Palmetto Records: PM 2113.

Marty Ehrlich: alto saxophone, clarinet
James Zollar: trumpet, flugelhorn
Howard Johnson: tuba, baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
James Weidman: piano, melodica
Greg Cohen: bass
Allison Miller: drums

The fact that this six-piece ensemble sounds so much larger - treading often into big band textures - speaks to the versatility of Ehrlich's writing for ensemble. The salient echoes of Andrew Hill, among other influences, courses through this jazz-rich sound. The versatility of materials also speaks volumes about the quality of composition as well as the outstanding collection of improvising players assembled for this recording. One would be hard pressed to find a Marty Ehrlich project that was less than stellar, and this one offers many layers of deeply thought, felt and played ideas. Layers that call for repeated listening.

Scale of the Day: G Dorian diminished 4 2% wide

GDorianDiminished4-2PercentWide

The G Dorian diminished 4 2% wide Scale. Featuring the opposing forces of contraction (diminished fourth interval) and expansion (2% wide).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Put Your Quarter In and Watch the Chicken Dance

Beck: Guero. 2005. Interscope Records: B0003841-02.

I drank this one in with some reservation in the last two spins in the rotation. But the party is on with this one. Working from the aesthetic school of constantly changing a groove without removing the pulsating consistency of the beat this one churns through moments of inspired high production. Beck's better-than-average lyrics and song writing is the backbone that allows this material to work from multiple angles at once. And when the brain grows weary with puzzling out the pastiche of sounds that make up this recording the party is on.

Thomas Chapin Trio: Menagerie Dreams. 1994. Re-released as disc 4 from the Alive box set in 1999. Knitting Factory Records: 35828 02482 2.

Thomas Chapin: alto saxophone, flute, baritone saxophone, mezzo soprano saxophone
Mario Pavone: bass
Michael Sarin: drums, gongs
guests -
John Zorn: alto saxophone
Vernon Frazer: poetry

There was a time when the Knitting Factory label mattered. Menagerie Dreams is squarely from that time when the New York jazz scene was well represented by a roster of creative improvisers with groups at the top of their game. Menagerie Dreams lurches with the animated qualities of the animals referenced in the titles. The squawking birds emulated on saxophones in "Bad Birdie." The lurching "Night Hog" or the unsteady, unsymmetrical gait of "A Drunken Monkey." The musing of a performer comparing himself - via poetry - to a performing animal in "Put Your Quarter in and Watch the Chicken Dance." Somewhere along the way a satisfying whole emerges from the sum of this listening experience. Imaginative play that withstands the test of time and represents Chapin's all too short legacy as an artist.

Anthony Braxton: Piano Quartet, Yoshi's 1994 [disc 3]. 1996. Music and Arts: CD 849.

Anthony Braxton: piano
Marty Ehrlich: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet
Joe Fonda: bass
Arthur Fuller: percussion

The least jagged of the 4-disc set of standards funneled through the ragged and dynamically coarse piano playing of the multi-instrumentalist and genius that is Anthony Braxton. While this collection as a whole does not live up to the lofty expectations set by other Braxton projects, this particular disc produces a hand full of redeeming moments. The quartet's take on Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" in particular offers up Ehrlich's inspired playing along side a lighter touch at the keys from Anthony Braxton. While there are still waves of plodding from the ivories that leave an unsettled wake behind these achingly familiar standards there is much to be said for taking risks - and falling short - as being preferable to playing things safe.

Scale of the Day: G Pythagorean Dorian 1% wide

GPythagoreanDorian1PercentWide

The G Pythagorean Dorian 1% wide Scale. 3-limit just intervals tweaked to fill an octave 1212-cents wide.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Scale of the Day: G Dorian mapped to the Cube-root-of-2

GDorianMappedToTheCubeRootOf2

The G Dorian mapped to the Cube-root-of-2 Scale. Note the Dorian-esque symmetry of intervals reflected within the confines of an equal tempered major third.

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.

HurdAudio Rotation: Hippies, Accordions and Rigor

Terry Riley: Atlantis Nath. 2001. Sri Moonshine Music: 001.

Terry Riley: compositions, voice, midi programming, piano, synthesizer
Luc Martinez: sound design, recording
Frederic Lepee: acoustic fretless guitar
John Deaderick: spoken text
Nice Opera String Quartet

A late Terry Riley concept album and a frequent orbit in the HurdAudio rotation. This is a profoundly flawed creation and I wouldn't change a thing about it. Aside from the tracks filled with midi-esque timbres and the sometimes difficult vocal intonations of Terry Riley (not to mention the hippie overtones) one finds these hardened, well arranged gems that are revealed within the symmetrical sequencing of tracks. At the center is the pearl, the "Ascencion" for solo piano, that holds the entire creative journey in place and easily forgives the trespasses in taste (to the point of embracing them whole). The flaws become inspired details that the intellect is willing to accept along with all parts of the journey.

Pauline Oliveros: The Roots Of The Moment. 2006. Hat Hut: hatOLOGY 591.

Pauline Oliveros: accordion in just intonation in an interactive electronic environment created by Peter Ward

This is one from the unfathomable vaults of the Pauline Oliveros collection of recorded works. Originally recorded in November of 1987 this solo accordion music is the Pauline Oliveros sound that first greeted these ears at a live performance at the Portland Center for the Visual Arts around that time. Always a deep listener, Oliveros sculpts and thrives within the austere, sand-swept drone landscapes built upon the reedy just intervals of her accordion. And like so much of the music of Pauline Oliveros - it rewards the deep listening experiencer in unexpected ways. The sound yearns with longing and large-scale beauty.

Alban Berg: Wozzeck: An Opera in 3 Acts. Libretto by Georg Buchner. Live recording of the Peter Konwitschny production. 1998. EMI Classics: 7243 5 56865 2 7.

Chor der Hamburgischen Staatsoper
Steffen Kammler: chorus master
Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg
Ingo Metzmacher: conductor

It is possible to greet the Sunday morning sunrise without opera. But adding a little German opera rife with Viennese angst practically chases the solar one up with cries of "Ein Feuer! Ein Feuer!"

Like the inevitability of a new dawn, Alban Berg gave a forceful shove to nineteenth century operatic conventions at the onset of the twentieth. The music that helped make "rigor" into an academic buzz word in music faculties for decades makes for fantastic - if heavy handed - opera. Though for all its forceful presence, gravity and repulsion this piece is rife with several moments of striking tenderness and delicate arrangements. This recording gives Wozzeck every opportunity to display its dizzying tapestry of textures with a combination of "rigorous" performance and great live acoustics. It's amazing how Alban Berg's ability to bring out so many of Romanticism's excesses (to the breaking point of that aesthetic) has left such an incredible work in its wake.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Dorian mapped to the 3/2

EFlatDorianMappedToThe3-2-Interval-analysis

The intervallic content of the E Flat Dorian mapped to the 3/2 Scale.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Scale of the Day: G Dorian diminished 4 mapped to the 3/2

GDorianDiminished4MappedToThe3-2

The G Dorian diminished 4 mapped to the 3/2 Scale. The altered equal tempered Dorian resized to fill a just perfect fifth.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Feel Each Day

Anthony Braxton/Taylor Ho Bynum: Duets (Wesleyan) 2002. 2002. Innova: 576.

Anthony Braxton: sopranino saxophone, soprano saxophone, F alto saxophone, Eb alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, Eb clarinet, Bb clarinet, contalto clarinet
Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, trumpbone, shell, mutes

This is a performance and improvisation between teacher and student. Each leaves an impression through conversation and creative spark that makes this disc well worth hearing. Anthony Braxton has taken his mentoring role at Wesleyan as an opportunity to collaborate - and learn - from creative forces such as Taylor Ho Bynum. Bynum's own compositions carve out clear trajectories from the trunk of Braxton's considerable body of work and ideas to find new spaces that bear his mark. The shift between cornet and trumpbone keeping pace with Braxton's dizzying multi-instrumental acrobatics and extended technique. Braxton's compositions provide plenty of evidence of the depth of his accomplishments and pool of ideas. Between the two lies the improvisation - the conversation - that holds these ears in rapt attentiveness.

Dave Douglas: Charms of the Night Sky. 1998. Winter & Winter: 910 015-2.

Dave Douglas: trumpet
Guy Klucevsek: accordion
Mark Feldman: violin
Greg Cohen: bass

Every move - and this CD has accompanied me through some large swaths of geographic shifts - involves an increasing number of boxes of CDs to shuffle from old home to new home. This is one of discs I pause involuntarily over when packing or unpacking. A heart filled with regard for the music contained on its silvery sheen. The weaving of trumpet, accordion, violin and bass with equal nods toward jazz tradition and Eastern European music performed with a mastery that is never flashy in the service of unfolding these excellent compositions. Dave Douglas' tone takes on a sheen that is unlike the sound he employs with his numerous other ensembles. The dedications he attaches to many of these pieces are clear nods toward heroes acknowledged. "Dance in They Soul" - dedicated to Charlie Haden - makes perfect sense as tribute in both the substance of the music and the subject of the sound.

Elliott Sharp/Terraplane: Blues for Next. 2000. Knitting Factory Records: KFW-285.

Terraplane core quartet:
Elliott Sharp: electric guitars, console steel guitar, National steel guitar, tenor saxophone
Sim Cain: drums, electronic percussion
Sam Furnace: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone
David Hofstra: electric bass, acoustic bass

guests:
Dean Bowman: vocals
Eric Mingus: vocals
Hubert Sumlin: electric guitar

Elliott Sharp has a relationship with noise. He brings it on the guitar. He brings it on the saxophone. He brings it in his thorny compositions. With Terraplane, he also puts his relationship with the blues to the front and center. And while the "noise thing" gets turned on with many of his signature textures, licks and blasts from his timbre toolbox he actually brings a relatively light touch to this genre. It doesn't sound like he's holding back. He's simply allowing the dynamic - particularly the group dynamic - to drive this music forward with more than a measure of respect for the history running through the blues. The guest tracks take wonderful turns and offer bits of poetic observance. While the "quartet" disc of this double set drives straight for the groove with plenty of space for noise and solo.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Pythagorean Dorian mapped to the Square-root-of-2

EFlatPythagoreanDorianMappedToTheSquareRootOf2-interval-analysis

The intervallic content of the E Flat Pythagorean Dorian mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Scale of the Day: G Dorian augmented 4 mapped to the Square-root-of-2

GDorianAugmented4MappedToTheSquareRootOf2

The G Dorian augmented 4 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. The alteration of the augmented fourth adds a nice gap between the third and fourth degree of 150-cents that is offset by the 50-cent "quarter-tone" between the fourth and fifth degrees.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Flat Dorian augmented 4

EFlatDorianAugmented4-interval-analysis

The intervallic content of the E Flat Dorian augmented 4 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Ramboy in the Elephant Sanctuary

Dave Douglas: Sanctuary. 1997. Avant/Disk Union: AVAN 066.

Dave Douglas: trumpet
Cuong Vu: trumpet
Yuka Honda: sampler
Anthony Coleman: sampler
Hilliard Greene: bass
Mark Dresser: bass
Chris Speed: saxophone
Dougie Bowne: drums

This one is a much revered recording in the rotation and in the land of HurdAudio. The nod toward Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz comes across in a downtown take on the almost double ensemble. Part of the joy of listening to Sanctuary comes in the moment-to-moment unfolding of this improvised texture as it ranges freely between pulse and open rhythmic ripples. More joy still comes from puzzling which of the two trumpets, which of the two samplers and which of the two bassists are making the individual layers of this sound. The familiarity I have with these players adds a dimension to that part of the listening. One of Dave Douglas' more "avant" projects and one of his best.

Clusone Trio: Trio Clusone. 1991. Ramboy: 01.

Michael Moore: alto saxophone, clarinet, melodica
Ernst Reijseger: cello
Han Bennink: percussion

Given the kinetic force that is Han Bennink combined with the tight-yet-free skittering through a wide spectrum of jazz and creative music styles that marks the Clusone Trio's sound I'm still struck by the pockets of unhurried calm that form within the tapestry of music found on this recording. The trio that could veer off into any direction is equally adept at delivering a solid cover of Hermeto Pascoal's "Bebe" or stretching out long sheets of freely improvised tranquility. But it's the expectation of wild flights that keep the ears reaching for this disc. And it hardly disappoints on that front. It's the tension of that potential energy lurking in the sound - with explosive bursts into kinetic - that makes for a standout listening experience with this one.

Jack DeJohnette - featuring Bill Frisell: The Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers. 2006. Golden Beams Productions: GBP-CD-1116.

Jack DeJohnette: drums, percussion, vocal, piano
Bill Frisell: guitar, banjo

Bill Frisell gets to play with all the best drummers. In a list that includes the likes of Joey Baron, Ginger Baker, Kenny Wollesen, Elvin Jones and numerous others, adding Jack DeJohnette to that list is a natural. Recorded live in Seattle at the Earshot Jazz Festival in 2001 and touched up with some light post production work from Ben Surman, this one continues Frisell's track record of outstanding recordings. The range of textures (DeJohnette is a fine pianist - as evidenced by a sensitive rendition of John Coltrane's "After the Rain") and musicianship is staggering. Individually these players inspire awe. As co-conspirators they've turned in a great record for the ages.

Baum-ing A Ride Down the Third Stream

Jamie Baum Septet @ An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jamie Baum: flutes
Ralph Alessi: trumpet
Doug Yates: alto saxophone, bass clarinet
Chris Komer: french horn
Aaron Goldberg: piano
Johannes Weidenmueller: bass
Jeff Hirshfield: drums

Jamie Baum is a composer. The flute is her instrument, and the septet is her medium for fleshing out conceptual structures that turn on heady ideas, odd metric turns and arrangements that feature the New York caliber talent that can swing with the best of them. Pianist Aaron Goldberg in particular often built up solos out of fragments and patterns from the compositional form that displayed a knack for building solos out of large slabs of ideas with Monk-like ingenuity and impishness. The ensemble writing featured interlocking parts with a strong focus on the ideas, rhythm and melodic impulse behind the music.

The highlight of the evening came in the second set with an exceptionally creative arrangement and adaptation of The Unanswered Question by Charles Ives - a work that is sacred in the HurdAudio canon. The impulses that animate this orchestral work were adeptly applied to the septet with a recording of speeches and musings on questions and answers as the spiritual application of the off-stage elements employed in the symphonic piece. Hearing the signature trumpet line of The Unanswered Question transformed into a riff over a pulsing ensemble texture was incredibly satisfying.

G Pythgaorean Dorian diminished 4

GPythagoreanDorianDiminished4

The G Pythagorean Dorian diminished 4 Scale. I'm always struck by how the Pythagorean diminished fourth (8192/6561) is so close to the 5-limit major third (5/4). The two fall within 2-cents of one another and the ear would probably hear it as the major third in most contexts. In this case it is the interval that breaks up the Dorian symmetry of intervals.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Standards and Lies

Anthony Braxton: Piano Quartet, Yoshi's 1994 [disc 1]. 1996. Music & Arts: CD 849.

Anthony Braxton: piano
Marty Ehrlich: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet
Joe Fonda: bass
Arthur Fuller: percussion

As an interpretation of jazz standards this one is a train wreck. I keep coming back to these sessions - and there is plenty to gleam from the experience - but I have to admit to finding Braxton's pianism troubling. Marty Ehrlich's playing is outstanding. One can imagine the mix of curiosity, joy and confusion present at Yoshi's as these familiar Coltrane and Gillespie tunes get churned through the brittle and plodding churn of this quartet. The old standards are open to all different kinds of interpretations, and they are an unmistakable launching point for these ruminations. There's an irreconcilable disappointment that the twin forces of tradition and free improvisation was delivered with such a heavy pair of hands on the ivories.

The Flying Luttenbachers: ...the Truth is a Fucking Lie... 1999. ugEXPLODE Records: GR61cd/ug10.

Weasel Walter: drums, trumpets, electronics, mellotron
Kurt Johnson: bass guitar
Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello
Chuck Falzone: electric guitar
William Pisarri: bass guitar, shriek
Michael Colligan: reeds, etc.
Dylan Posa: conductor, casio
Julie Pomerleau: violin

There is a clenched fist quality to this music that steers this sound - and by proxy the ears tuned to it - away from even the slightest shade of the sentimental. Sounds driven by sheer necessity and brutal allegiance to sonic textures fueled by rage and unflinching layers of dissonance. Propelled by the raw kinetic drive of drummer Weasel Walter as he draws upon the considerable forces of Chicago free jazz and hard-core musicians this is an expression that is both ugly and necessary.

Ellery Eskelin: Forms. 2004. Hat Hut: hatOLOGY 592.

Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone
Drew Gress: double bass
Phil Haynes: drums

This one is more of an oblique approach to the idea and ideal of jazz tradition and its "standards." Other than an interpretation of Duke Ellington's "Fleurette Africaine" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Bebop" these are Ellery Eskelin originals cast within a standard tenor saxophone trio instrumentation and titled after deep stylistic nodes of the tradition: "Blues," "In Three," "Ballad," "Latin" and "Vignettes." The sound that comes out of this trio isn't overly steeped in tradition and the overall sonic voice retains much of the fresh qualities and individuality of these three improvisers (along with the high degree of musicianship each brings to this session).

Scale of the Day: A 3, Square-root-of-2, Construct #1 - Lydian Mode

A3-SquareRootOf2ConstructNo1LydianMode

The A 3, Square-root-of-2, Construct #1 - Lydian Mode - Scale. Taking an all otonal approach toward tuning with 3 and the square-root-of-2, 3 yeilds a perfect fifth +1.96-cents (relative to the equal tempered perfect fifth and adjusted to fit within an octave) and the square-root-of-2 adjusts this interval by a 600-cent "tritone" - resulting in the 101.96-cent minor second.

Thursday, November 13, 2008