Saturday, December 12, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Confluxed with Monumental Disappointment

Available Jelly: Monuments. 1994. Ramboy: 07.

Eric Boeren: tumpet, alto horn
Jimmy Sernesky: trumpet
Michael Moore: alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Tobias Delius: tenor saxophone
Gregg Moore: trombone, tuba, mandolin, electric bass
Alexei Levin: piano, accordion, organ
Eric Calmes: bass, bass guitar
Michael Vatcher: percussion

A sonic vehicle of the Dutch jazz scene and an approach to large ensemble jazz writing with enormous appeal for these ears. This sound is a staple in the HurdAudio rotation. Music that darts off at odd angles around a solidly melodic sensibility. Textures that bend toward whimsy and frolic or languid and brooding. Just underneath this sound is an astonishing grasp of jazz history combined with a willingness to draw from any era.

The Rempis Percussion Quartet: The Disappointment of Parsley. 2009. Not Two Records: MW 811-2.

Dave Rempis: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
Tim Daisy: percussion
Frank Rosaly: percussion
Anton Hatwich: bass

An improvising quartet as a sonic dialogue between creative equals. However, three quarters of this particular ensemble is rhythm section. The resulting sound is like an "extended trio" with the two drum kits weaving together into a texture that crackles with a little extra energy. The percussive elements never feel layered or doubled. Just expanded. Hatwich adds a distinct personality to the mix with his bass while Dave Rempis takes full advantage of this solid and extremely responsive sound that surrounds him. The Disappointment of Parsley ends up being a solid and thoroughly enjoyable experience that balances almost perfectly between the forces of jazz history and the forward propulsion of modern improvisation.

Wally Shoup/Toshi Makihara/Brent Arnold: Confluxus. 2004. Leo Records: 399.

Wally Shoup: alto saxophone
Toshi Makihara: drums
Brent Arnold: cello

An improvising trio delving into a space of pure sonic retreat. The considerable ability of each individual held intensely in check as they work a taut line of responsiveness along this prolonged, collaborative endeavor. The tension between lines of sounding materials drawn tighter through the sparseness of the texture. Toshi Makihara occasionally erupts. Wally Shoup occasionally takes flight. Brent Arnold will occasionally plumb the expanses of what a cello can sound like. But in the end this is the work of a true trio. The instrumental characters sublimated into an energy that is the sound. An extreme consideration between egos making up this inspired release.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: The Art of the Improvisers

Aaron Dugan: {ten improvisations}. 2006. Jungulous: 001.

Aaron Dugan: electric guitar

A focused burst that places the ears within the creative mental space of Aaron Dugan and the electric pulses of his electric guitar. The use of processing and pedals playing a moderate role in folding noise into a signal of pulsating, angular materials and rhythmic impulse. Thoughtful while honestly taking on the amplified power of the instrument and the language formed behind its use in rock music.

Ornette Coleman Trio: The Ornette Coleman Trio at the "Golden Circle," Stockholm - volume one. 1965 (re-released as the Rudy Van Gelder edition in 2002). Blue Note Records: 7243 5 35518 2 7.

Ornette Coleman: alto saxophone
David Izenzon: bass
Charles Moffett: drums

On this go around my ears are drawn to the cymbal work of Charles Moffett. Panned hard right with an unusual resonance there are these enharmonic drones that emanate from his kit that slide in and around the harmolodic adventures pouring out of Ornette Coleman's alto. The human qualities of his saxophone sound on full display as he weaves between plaintive cries and melodic contours fashioned around his intervallic sensibilities.

Don Byron: Do The Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker. 2006. Blue Note Records: 946 3 41094 2.

Don Byron: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
David Gilmore: guitar
George Colligan: hammond b-3 organ
Brad Jones: bass
Rodney Holmes: drums, tambourine
Curtis Fowlkes: trombone
Chris Thomas King: vocals, guitar
Dean Bowman: vocals

The projects Don Byron take creative directions that are surprising. Coming from a mind that is not held in place by boundaries between styles and aesthetic directives he is free to explore klezmer, Latin, hip-hop, opera arias, early twentieth century swing tunes and in this case 1960's era soul music. The level of excellence he achieves is not surprising. Music such as this lives and thrives under the feel that this outstanding ensemble brings to it. After a few spins my mind just snaps into the place this music creates and savors the sense of time laid out along the blues changes in this music. "Tally-Ho" and "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)" providing the highlights of this listening experience.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: From Eroica to the Village Vanguard

Ludwig Van Beethoven: The Symphonies [disc 2]. Recorded in 1994. The International Music Company: 205297-305.

Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (op. 55) 'Eroica'
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Guenther Herbig: conductor

In pithy introductions before symphony orchestras everywhere perform these Beethoven works one hears about the "constant renewal" one experiences with these works. To some extent that comes in the rare moments when the mind slips past the crushing familiarity of these pieces. When one can somehow erase the knowledge of what is coming next. The once startling harmonic and dynamic changes that one anticipates like an old rerun. On this go around I had more success hearing the first movement with fresh ears before the total form - fully comprehended - returned to my memory. That first movement was bliss in the willful forgetting that preceded it. Clearly one of the "great" works. Now to return to the act of not remembering for the next listen.

Ludwig Van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets - Volume I. Recorded in 1989. Delos: 3031.

String Quartet in F Major op. 18 no. 1
String Quartet in E flat Major op. 127

Orford String Quartet
Andrew Dawes: violin
Kenneth Perkins: violin
Terence Helmer: viola
Denis Brott: cello

The Beethoven string quartets are the antidote to Beethoven symphony fatigue. Just as much arrangement and development prowess as the large ensemble works with less of the "beating a dead war horse" sensation. The early/late juxtaposition of this volume clearly illustrating the artistic growth of Beethoven the composer as he masters the old Classical form and proceeds to rip at its seams in his later, more confident years.

Bill Evans: The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961. 2003 & 2005: Riverside Records: 25218-4443-2.

Bill Evans: piano
Scott LaFaro: bass
Paul Motian: drums

One of the rare examples of where it's possible to state "one of the most important jazz recordings ever" without slipping into hyperbole. The complete day of live sets at the Village Vanguard on June 25, 1961 with arguably one of the most influential piano trios of all time. The sets that produced both Waltz for Debby and Sunday at the Village Vanguard. And one of the precious few documentations of this trio before tragedy separated Scott LaFaro from this world. The lyricism of Evans playing is utterly stunning. Even more so when the mind and ears are engaged with the form unfolding behind his improvisations. A must have for any serious jazz collector that invites awe for the artistry, intimidation at the graceful level of musicianship on display and an invaluable glimpse of a sound that continues to shape generations of jazz players.