Monday, October 26, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Suspicious Dancing

The Bad Plus: Suspicious Activity. 2005. Sony/BMG Music Entertainment: CK 94740.

Reid Anderson: bass
Ethan Iverson: piano
David King: drums

For all the immediate appeal the Bad Plus offer with polished and nearly flawless performances on this disc there is also the deft use of form. This trio knows how to shape a musical idea with a triumphant crescendo that pours organically out of quiet development. After multiple spins through the rotation this disc grows more enjoyable. This trio is a great band.

Stefan Wolpe: Enactments: Works for Piano. 2005. Hat Hut Records: 161.

Stefan Wolpe: composer

March and Variations for Two Pianos (1933)
Joseph Christof: piano
Steffen Schleiermacher: piano

The Good Spirit of a Right Cause (1942)
Steffen Schleiermacher: piano

Enactments for Three Pianos (1953)
Josef Christof: piano
Benjamin Kobler: piano
Irmela Roelcke: piano
James Avery: conductor

The blurring of three pianos in Enactments for Three Pianos is the main attraction on this disc. The inventive and spare use of extended technique adding faint ripples of muted strings and pizzicato within the dense textures of sound masses. For these ears, it is the familiar Wolpe piece on this disc (even if this is the first CD recording. I remember wearing out a vinyl recording of this work years ago). March and Variations for Two Pianos is the surprise work here. A glimpse into an earlier Stefan Wolpe working with melodic materials through a series of variations. The density is less deliberate, yet still built upon a collage of parts. Revealing a music of meticulously crafted parts.

Ornette Coleman: Dancing In Your Head. 1973, 1975 (re-released in 2000). Verve: 314 543 519-2.

Ornette Coleman: alto saxophone
Robert Palmer: clarinet
Charles Ellerbee: guitar
Bern Nix: guitar
Jamaaladeen Tacuma: bass
Ronald Shannon Jackson: drums
Master Musicians of Jajouka: ghaita, stringed instruments, percussion

The polytonal, funk driven explosion that came just before Prime Time. The harmolodically rendered hook of "Theme From a Symphony" weaving through the two long variations built upon an improbable bed of elastic rhythms from the two guitar, bass and drums rhythm section. Then there are the two takes of "Midnight Sunrise." A mere taste of Ornette Coleman's collaboration with the Master Musicians of Jajouka. And according to Coleman, the closest he's come to realizing his creative ideal.

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