Tuesday, March 24, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Quiet Fugitives

Kenny Dorham: Quiet Kenny. 1959 (re-released in 1992). Prestige/New Jazz Records: OJCCD-250-2.

Kenny Dorham: trumpet
Tommy Flanagan: piano
Paul Chambers: bass
Arthur Taylor: drums

These ears love a paradox. With Kenny Dorham one finds the odd balance of a be-bop master - a style of music marked by extreme command within the midst of complex harmonic structures and an almost machismo swagger at mastering one of the most demanding styles of music - with a trumpet player of such unassuming stature. His tone, his arrangements and his astonishing ability to spin such well-formed solos sounds natural to the point of effortlessness. Understatement within high achievement. Quiet Kenny shows off his solo chops within a set of standards and straight ahead charts backed by a quartet of hard-bop heavy weights.

Reuben Radding: Fugitive Pieces. 2006. Pine Ear Music: PEM 002.

Reuben Radding: bass
Matt Bauder: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Andrew Drury: percussion
Nate Wooley: trumpet

Desolate yet collaborative soundscapes. The exhale of breath, or friction of scraping brings the instruments into focus as large bodies projecting sound from the microscopic level. Physics in the service of sonic art. Upon repeated listenings - and repeated live experiences with many of these performers - the personalities and individual sounding sources become clearer even as they melt together into a singular image. The focus on detail in these improvised forms owing more to landscape than portraits. A space worth exploring.

Jim Black: Alasnoaxis. 2000. Winter & Winter: 910061-2.

Jim Black: drums
Hilmar Jensson: electric guitar
Chris Speed: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Skuli Sverrisson: electric bass

I forget just how pleasant this recording is. A good quartet with a healthy mix of oddness, inventiveness and musicianship. The pieces take peculiar turns through a range of tempos - often speeding up or slowing down as needed - while touching on a multi-stylistic sensibility. Hilmar Jensson grounds this sound with his steady electric bass while Chris Speed takes several understated flights of fancy across the texture. Music that grooves convincingly without lulling the mind into complacency.

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