Tuesday, July 14, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Arts and Poise

Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians. 2007. Innova: 678.

performed by
Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble
Bill Ryan: director
Gwendolyn Faasen, Stacey Van Vossen, Mary Crossman: voices
Amanda Duncan: voice, marimba
Alexander Hamel: xylophone, marimba, maracas
Samuel Gould: xylophone
Nicholas Usadel, Tim Church: marimbas
Joshua Puranen: marimba, maracas
Gregrey Secor: vibraphone
Daniel Redner: piano, maracas
Craig Avery: piano, marimba
Shaun MacDonald, Kelly Rizzo, Kurt Ellenberger, Lee Copenhaver: pianos
Mark Martin: violin
Pablo Mahave-Veglia: cello
Charlan Mueler, Alexander Kolias: clarinets, bass clarinets

A knockout performance of one of the major minimalist works combined with near-flawless production values. Every instrument has incredible presence in this recording as the one hour pulsating tour through eleven harmonies engulfs the air and any beings held in its sway. The slowly evolving harmonic progression is incredibly satisfying here. One of the lessons of minimalist music is how "change" can become such a focus when there is relatively little of it. In this piece it takes on a grandeur similar to the change from dawn to dusk unfolding across the skyline. The shifting of shadows and the coastal breeze blowing through the open windows almost dances along with the contours of each change as it plays through the speakers. An accompaniment to mid summer existence.

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost [box set - disc 9]. 2004. Revenant: RVN 213.

Albert Ayler interview with Kiyoshi Koyama for Swing Journal.
July 25, 1970 in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France

Don Cherry and Mocqui Cherry interview with Daniel Caux.
1971, Paris, France

There's a sadness to these interviews. A sadness of knowing of Ayler's mortality. The demise that would take this artist too soon not long after his 1970 interview and the discussion of the artist lost in Cherry's 1971 interview. A glimpse into a life of one so spiritually and creatively ahead of his time struggling with the petty reluctance of a world that values little. The touching belief and naivete that staying true to his innate direction would pay dividends in this life coupled with a longing to perform in better venues. At this point, Ayler had grown weary of the night club scene and was demanding the respect that his concertized, "classical" creations deserved. Once again, the artist was right and the world was wrong. The contour of a life interrupted traced to its completion in a box set that begins with Ayler playing "straight" takes on Rollins and Gershwin in Helsinki ends with a conversation in France. In between runs a forceful sound that will continue to shape generations of improvisers to come.

Brad Jones' AKA Alias: Uncivilized Poise. 1999. Knitting Factory Records: KFR-247.

Brad Jones: acoustic bass, electric voice, vocals
Abe Fogle: drums, percussion, vocals
David Gilmore: guitar
Jeff Lawrence: keyboards, vocals
Bob Debellis: alto saxophone, flute
with -
D.K. Dyson: vocals
Beans: vocals
Curtis Fowlkes: trombone

Two things found in abundance on this disc is monster chops on every instrument and wide stylistic range. At times sitting squarely in the late-90s Knitting Factory "downtown" sound (back when the Knitting Factory mattered) before veering off into hip hop beats or straight ahead Jazz Passenger swing. Every turn is met with ridiculous musicianship right down to the spot-on vocals and terrifying ability of David Gilmore on electric guitar. Occasionally polished to a fault, but never dull.

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