Sunday, February 22, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Original Concepts

Joe Henderson: Mode for Joe. 1966. (re-released in 1988). Blue Note Records: CDP 7 84227 2.

Joe Henderson: tenor saxophone
Lee Morgan: trumpet
Curtis Fuller: trombone
Bobby Hutcherson: vibes
Cedar Walton: piano
Ron Carter: bass
Joe Chambers: drums

The iconic title track - a staple sound when calling the sound of Joe Henderson to mind - is actually composed by pianist Cedar Walton. As is the excellent bop classic "Black." Given the incredible improvisational prowess of Joe Henderson, it's surprising how few Joe Henderson originals spring to mind when feeding the addiction to his tone. Mode for Joe offers a glimpse into the creative mind of Henderson's world with such originals: "A Shade of Jade," "Caribbean Dance" and "Granted." The rest of this disc is the impossible talent assembled for this session along with "Free Wheelin'" penned by the trumpet great Lee Morgan. All in all, a recording that belongs on even the shortest lists of jazz must-haves.

James Tenney: Postal Pieces. 2004. New Worlds Records: 80612-2.

The Barton Workshop
Jos Zwaanenburg: flutes
Alex Geller, Nina Hitz, Judith van Swaaij: cellos
Marieke Keser, Jacob Plooij: violins
Elisabeth Smalt: viola
John Anderson: clarinets
Gertjan Loot: trumpet
Krijn van Arnhem: bassoon, contrabassoon
Frank Denyer: melodica
Charles van Tassel
: baritone
Theo van Arnhem, Jos Tieman: contrabasses
James Fulkerson: conductor, trombone, live electronics
Tatiana Koleva, Tobias Liebezeit: percussion
Ulrike von Meier: harp

Maximusic (1965)
Swell Piece (1967)
A Rose Is a Rose Is a Round (1970)
Beast (1971)
Swell Piece #2 (1971)
Having Never Written a Note for Percussion (1971)
Koan (1971)
For Percussion Perhaps, Or... (night) (1971)
Swell Piece #3 (1971)
Cellogram (1971)
August Harp (1971)

James Tenney was a friend and an important mentor for me personally. His encouragement to keep one's ears open carries on as these Postal Pieces present the conceptual riches contained within "simple" - often singular - ideas communicated on a score no larger than a post card. Having Never Written a Note for Percussion is presented as a single note (with tremelo) notated with a crescendo and decrescendo underneath. In practice, this shape unfolds as a stunning texture of enharmonic partials rolling off of a cymbal struck repeatedly over a meditative duration. A conceptual idea that suggests endless permutations on gongs, electronics, ensembles or any other imagined instrumentation. For Percussion Perhaps, Or... is performed on trombone and live electronics by James Fulkerson on this collection. The beauty of this sound drawing its form and impetus from the bare essentials communicated from the small score. The Swell Pieces are exquisite, artful texture studies realized by the Barton Workshop. Each realization is a drama-free, taut study in focused listening and understanding that gently celebrates the wonders of human auditory perception.

Anthony Braxton: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 [disc 6]. 2006: Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.

Recorded live: March 17, 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 6 = Composition 355 - dedicated to the multi-instrumentalist/composer Gino Robair

Ghostrancendentalism from a hot, large ensemble. Instrumental big bands may be the most attractive medium of all - and few have worked out such a methodical application of multi-layered group free improvisation with as much rigor and result as Anthony Braxton. My slow ride through this multi-night stint at New York's Iridium has finally reached the sixth disc. So far each has been a wonder. Each has been a hour-long mural of vibrant color and detail. Music that begs for total immersion into its own, inner logics. Composition 355 offers up some heavy contrast between group unison and independence as well as pulse-state textures and wild flights of fancy.

No comments: