Saturday, June 27, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Cracked and Hanging By A Shoe String

Marc Ribot: Shoe String Symphonettes. 1997. Tzadik: TZ 7504.

Film scores by Marc Ribot:
Death by Unnatural Causes (1991) - directed by Karen Bellone and Lisa Rinzler
Marc Ribot: guitar, sampler
Greg Cohen: bass
Jill Jaffe: violin, viola

Landlord Blues (1987) - directed by Jacob Burkhardt
Marc Ribot: trumpet, banjo, guitar
Brad Jones: bass
Bill Ware: vibes
Curtis Fowlkes: trombone
Jim Nolet: violin
Roy Nathanson: saxophone
EJ Rodriguez: drums, percussion
Gregory Ribot: flute

Aelita Queen of Mars (1928) - directed by Yakov Protazanov
Marc Ribot: guitar
Paul Clarvis: drums, percussion
Dave Meric: keyboards
Phil Boyden: violin
Helen Thomas: cello
Mike Kearsey: trombone

Pieces From An Incomplete Project (1995 - 1996) - directed by Joe Brewster
Dave Douglas: trumpet
Vicki Bodner: oboe
Charlie Giordano: piano, keyboards
Mauro Refosco: percussion
Jill Jaffe: violin, viola
Maxine Neuman: cello
Tony Garnier: bass

Summer Salt (1993) - directed by Charlie Levi
Marc Ribot: guitar, e-flat horn
John Zorn: saxophone
Andy Haas: saxophone
Cyro Baptista: drums

An absolute gem. Often music composed for film - or any mixed media - has a tendency to feel incomplete or unnaturally malformed by the bullying exigencies of visual momentum. While many of these pieces are short, or subjected to abrupt jump cuts, these still feel like complete works. Sonic moments stretched taut with introspective beauty at one moment. Caricatures of idiomatic reference points served up with irreverence in the following moment. The focus that Marc Ribot brings to this - both as composer and guitarist - is unwavering regardless of the level of seriousness or serious mischief.

Paul Plimley Trio: Safe-Crackers. 1999. Victo: cd066.

Paul Plimley: piano
Lisle Ellis: contrabass
Scott Amendola: drums

A recorded documentation that captures exactly what makes each of these players so compelling in live performance. This disc gets a lot of spins in the rotation because it's so engaging to put it on and hear what these improvisers are doing. The complete lack of gravity in spite of the depth of musicianship is unbelievable. One of the great, under-rated piano trio recordings of all time.

Misha Mengelberg Quartet: Four In One. 2001. Songlines: SGL SA 1535-5.

Misha Mengelberg: piano
Dave Douglas: trumpet
Brad Jones: bass
Han Bennink: percussion

No recording can adequately capture the full-contact embrace of absurdity that marks Han Bennink's drumming style. What this one does preserve for aural posterity is an irreverent musicality willing to bolt scatter shot along the jazz continuum - or well outside such genre confines if need be. But when it's "inside," it's squarely in the pocket. And when it's "outside" it rarely upsets the furniture in its haste to get there. Paired with the understated humor of Misha Mengelberg's compositions this becomes a thrill ride of both virtuosity and careening "where-will-this-go-next?" dimensions. Adding the considerable improvisational chops of long-time collaborators Dave Douglas and Brad Jones (Douglas' trumpet playing being a peculiar addiction of mine) gives this quartet sound considerable personality. There's a sly mischief to this music that draws upon equal parts Thelonius Monk and Kurt Weill.

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