Sunday, August 30, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Bassoons, Grooves and Harmolodics

Wayne Horvitz/Gravitas Quartet: Way Out East. 2006. Songlines: SA1558-2.

Wayne Horvitz: piano, electronics
Peggy Lee: cello
Ron Miles: trumpet
Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon

Composed jazz from the melodically centric - and deceptively ingenious arranger - Wayne Horvitz. Each one of these pieces bears the harmonic turns and phrasing that marks so many of Wayne Horvitz's pieces. And that is a good thing given the addiction my ears have built up for that sound. Added to that is the "chamber jazz" quartet of piano, cello, trumpet and bassoon. An instrumentation uniquely suited for (and to) these pieces. Given the luminescence each of these players brings to the session this music hovers in the air along a sinewy strain quirky beauty. This one meets my high expectations for Wayne Horvitz and adds bassoon.

Miles Davis: The Complete On The Corner Sessions [disc 3]. 1972 recording, 2007 release. Sony/BMG Entertainment: 88697 06239 2-D3.

Miles Davis: trumpet
Carlos Garnett: soprano saxophone
Cedric Lawson: organ
Reggie Lucas: guitar
Khalil Balakrishna: electric sitar
Michael Henderson: electric bass
Al Foster: drums
Badal Roy: tablas
Mtume: congas
Dave Liebman: soprano saxophone
Pete Cosey: guitar

Such large sheets of funky material like this is best served by the box set format that allows for so many alternate takes and sprawling expanse of jam sessions. This one fills the ears and the soul with heavy jams. The louder you listen to these, the closer you get to 1972. As expansive as this material is - and it comes off in enormous sheets - there's also the detail and variety within this sound. "Peace" and "Mr. Foster" building up from smaller units in the wake of thick textures makes for striking contrast. And sewn into the wicked pulse of this music are these spectacular solos. Rich material that call for soaking within them.

Ornette Coleman: Beauty is a Rare Thing [disc 2]. 1959 (1993 re-release). Atlantic Records: R2 71410.

Ornette Coleman: alto saxophone
Don Cherry: pocket trumpet
Charlie Haden: bass
Billy Higgins: drums
Ed Blackwell: drums

On a pair of October afternoons in the Radio Recorders studio of Hollywood in 1959 the Ornette Coleman Quartet forever changed the course of jazz with material that eventually ended up on Change of the Century. Music that still crackles with "it" factor to spare decades later. The second disc of the Atlantic Records Beauty is a Rare Thing opens with "The Face of the Bass" as the ears are reminded of the "it" factor of Charlie Haden. The aural treasures continue from there. Don Cherry's halting solo on "Forerunner" is astonishing. The sound rolling off of Billy Higgins' cymbals behind that solo is another fascination. The spark that this quartet possessed in these early recordings is understood. Yet it's still a jolt to confront the ears with just how rich this music is.

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