Thursday, November 26, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Haywire and the Brain

Thomas Chapin Trio plus Strings: Haywire. 1996 (Re-released as disc 5 of the Alive box set, 1999). Knitting Factory Records: 35828 02482-2.

Thomas Chapin: alto saxophone, mezzo-soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone, flute, miscellaneous instruments
Mario Pavone: bass
Michael Sarin: drums
Mark Feldman: violin
Boris Rayskin: cello
Kiyoto Fujiwara: bass

The Thomas Chapin Trio worked with formal development like a fabric. Woven through the smart arrangements and melodic lines are a multitude of moments that allow Chapin's improvisational voice to emerge along a wide range of emotional intensity. Moments that don't come at the expense of formal connectivity to the sequential parts of the music. Moments that also allow generous room for the other members of the ensemble to shine with equal brightness. With the added string trio the ears are treated to the creative sparks that fly between Mark Feldman and Thomas Chapin throughout this disc. The ears are reminded how deceptive a simple ostinato can be as a compositional device. How a repeated pattern can lend toward a building up of texture. And how much a few well placed utterances can add to a flute solo. This music is an affirmation of Thomas Chapin's assertion that "the point is to stay awake and alive to what is going on." There is plenty going on and the rewards come in hearing them.

Anthony Braxton: Piano Quartet, Yoshi's 1994 [disc 4]. 1996. Music & Arts: CD 849.

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

This set of jazz standards as interpreted by Braxton's quartet has several endearing qualities. Marty Ehrlich's playing being prominent among its better elements. The selection of material is outstanding. But that plodding, heavy handed piano under Braxton's hands makes it clear that it is not his primary instrument. The piano solos are adventurous and full of substance. But not much for nuance or dynamic range. This is one standards project that stumbles with Braxton (many of his standards projects are wickedly good). Yet I keep dipping my ears in it. Finding trace elements that inform. As well as the object lesson of a creative endeavor that falls short.

Anthony Braxton 12+1tet: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 - disc 3. Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.

Recorded live: March 17, 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

Composition No. 352 - Dedicated to the composer Sofia Gubardulina

In the body of group improvisation dynamics there are few systems that so accurately sublimate the ensemble into the functional replication of Anthony Braxton's considerable brain. Each neurological impulse firing along the ghost trance logics so meticulously crafted and imparted to these players. Yet this is a sublimation without submission. A group ensemble not falling under the dictatorship of baton and score. The pulse structures - often loosely defined and interpreted - provides the ears with the structural underpinnings that never overwhelm the individual improvisations necessary to fill in the details of this piece.

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