Sunday, October 18, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Ghosts and Mentalists

Anthony Braxton: Piano Quartet, Yoshi's 1994 [disc 2]. 1996. Music & Arts: CD 849.

Anthony Braxton: piano
Marty Ehrlich: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet
Joe Fonda: bass
Arthur Fuller: percussion

With musicians this outstanding my expectations for this music is substantially higher than the level of satisfaction derived from hearing this disc. There's simply no way around the disappointment that comes off in waves from this set. Much of the playing is good to excellent. The material is a long set list of jazz standards with a long track record of great, bad and indifferent covers. Braxton's pianism is a bit of punch to the gut. But it's not that it's a misguided endeavor. It's just a shock that so much talent and greatness can fall so short. It's also a facinating study on how great playing can somehow not carry a listening experience.

Anthony Braxton 12+1tet: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 - disc 1. Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.

Recorded live: March 16, 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 1 = Composition 350 - dedicated to the artist Emilio Cruz
Ghost Trance music invariably envelopes my being and absorbs consciousness into the long-form textures of the large ensemble mirroring the synaptic firings of Anthony Braxton's creative mind. A rendering of his improvisational and intellectual landscape as collaborative enterprise. It is a staggering beauty with roots in deep thought, deep listening and deep trance states. Now that I've spent some time with Composition 350 I'm beginning to hear past the pulse structure states that held my attention for the first three encounters with this piece. The sometimes steady, sometimes fluctuating pulse states are now a familiar landmark as other details come to the foreground. But it is also the trance state, the mode of slipping into a conscious dream state, that has more gravity now. Short melodic lines develop and repeat before sublimating into the larger sound mass. Leaving behind a lingering sense of expansive materials unfolding within an ecosystem of ideas along with the implicit invitation to absorb this music and fold it into one's own sensibilities.

Fowl: InaStorMental. 2007. Noac: 2007.

Noah Campbell: electronics, bass, drums, guitar, piano

The audio illusion of InaStorMental is the over dubbed collaboration borne out of a singular mind. At times the illusion holds. At other times it careens and teeters along the abyss of internal collaborative improvisation. This careening is a key part of the sound - a sonic image of the mad scientist building a Frankenstein out of Captain Beefheart parts down in the basement. To Noah Campbell's credit, the focus is never on a polished, perfect-take sound. But rather a texture of rough edges and ragged grooves that come together and fall apart. What this music does, however, is eventually slam up against the limits of playing with so many imaginary friends and suggests possible worlds should these ideas come up against the give and take of other collaborators. An improvisation that eventually navigates resistance not easily manufactured within a solo overdubbing environment.

1 comment:

Jerrie said...

Nice description of Noah Campbell musical experience!