Saturday, October 31, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Waging the Battle for Abstraction

Michael Zerang: Cedarhead. 2006. Al Maslakh Recordings: 06.

Michael Zerang: drums, darbuka and percussion
in duos with
Sharif Sehnaoui: electric guitar
Mazen Kerbaj: trumpet
Raed Yassin: tapes, electronics
Christine Sehnaoui: alto saxophone
Charbel Haber: electric guitar
Jassem Hindi: electronics
Bechir Saade: nay

The sound of transatlantic collaboration and a short glimpse into the creative depths and energies of the Beirut free improvisation scene. The vibrant, complex energies of the city delivering a sonic end-run to the international image of a society living under siege. The sometime brittle textures and aggressively extended techniques finding an easy conversation with the drumming of American Michael Zerang. There is plenty here to open ears to the sounds taking root in this region.

Bang On A Can & Don Byron: A Ballad For Many. 2006. Cantaloupe Music: CA21036.

Bang On A Can All-Stars
Robert Black: bass
David Cossin: drum set, percussion
Lisa Moore: piano
Mark Stewart: electric guitars
Wendy Sutter: cello
Evan Ziporyn: clarinet, bass clarinet

with Don Byron: composer, clarinet

The familiar Bryon-esque riffs and forms performed under the polished, tight sheen of the Bang On A Can All-Stars. Music that grooves as the compositional turns and melodic lines fan out with a sinewy smoothness. The music written for film in this collection does follow a strong, programmatic sense while the performances of "Basquaiat", "Show Him Some Lub" and "Fyodorovich" showcase the stylistic range and substance of Don Byron as a composer. Ultimately qualifying this as another installment in the eclectic and impressive Byron catalogue.

Elliott Sharp/Orchestra Carbon: Abstract Repressionism: 1990-99. 1992. Victo: cd019.

Elliott Sharp: composer, double guitar bass
Gregor Kitzis: violin
David Soldier: violin
Wendy Ultan: violin
Ron Lawrence: viola
Michelle Kinney: cello
Margaret Parkins: cello
Mary Wooten: cello
Lindsey Horner: bass
Joseph Trump: drums, electronic percussion

"The title is journalistic although the music is not programmatic. Elements of control (government, police/military, religion, entertainment/news media, educational institutions, the aristocracy) continue to tighten up their absolute ability to shape what people think and do - not so much through overt means (although these are certainly being practiced) but by selecting against and undermining the ability of humans to process information and abstractify. This we must battle" - Elliott Sharp. A sentiment that speaks toward the disconnect between art and product. And a music that erupts with a burst of noise before laying waste to a textural soundscape of rhythmic ferocity. These "ir/rational " works for large ensemble providing an excellent medium for distilling a rich sonic substance. Abstract Repressionism occupying a prominent place within my own ears and psyche.

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.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Exploding Stars, Distant Cries and A New Monastery

Exploding Star Orchestra: We Are All From Somewhere Else. 2007. Thrill Jockey: 181.

Rob Mazurek: composer, director, cornet, computer
Nicole Mitchell: flutes, voice
Jeb Bishop: trombone
Corey Wilkes: flugelhorn
Josh Berman: cornet
Matt Bauder: bass clarinet, tenor saxophone
Jeff Parker: guitar
Jim Baker: piano, arp, pianette
Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone
John McEntire: marimba, tubular bells
Matthew Lux: bass guitar
Jason Ajemian: acoustic bass
Mike Reed: drums, percussion, saw
John Herndon: drums

Bursting with thick grooves that hook the ears and draw soloists and group improvisations into its dense gravity like a black hole. "Sting Ray and the Beginning of Time" opens up this disc with a serious punch as it works through its suite of raw physicality and punch drunk sound. Many of the ideas and grooves shifting on a dime as a showcase for the almost danceable side of the Chicago jazz scene. Jason Adasiewicz's work on vibraphone is not to be missed on this one (and he's well worth seeking out for the live experience).

Eric Dolphy: Far Cry with Booker Little. 1960 (re-released in 1989). Original Jazz Classics/New Jazz Records: OJCCD-400-2(NJ-8270).

Eric Dolphy: alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute
Booker Little: trumpet
Jaki Byard: piano
Ron Carter: bass
Roy Haynes: drums

If the thought of hearing Eric Dolphy's bass clarinet running unison lines with Booker Little's trumpet doesn't have your ears craving for this disc then you haven't been listening. A real classic from two innovators so sorely missed. A great performance of "Miss Ann" on here and the sequence of "Mrs. Parker of K.C. (Bird's Mother)" opening this set and "Serene" closing it offers a nice bookend of melodicism that ranges from bop to ballad.

Nels Cline: New Monastery: A View Into the Music of Andrew Hill. 2006. Cryptogramophone: CG 130.

Nels Cline: guitar, effects
Bobby Bradford: cornet
Ben Goldberg: clarinets
Andrea Parkins: accordion, effects
Devin Hoff: contrabass
Scott Amendola: drumset, percussion
Alex Cline (on two tracks): percussion

As per Nels Cline's liner notes, this is "not at 'tribute record' in the conventional sense." But then, to do anything in a "conventional sense" couldn't possibly pay tribute to the unconventional force that was Andrew Hill. Hearing these Hill compositions without Hill's instrument (the piano) adds its own shading. The processed accordion textures being the only keyboard present in this music of love and vitality. The personalities - often strong - of these individuals are never sublimated into an Andrew Hill voice. This a music of interpretive freedom and respect without solemnity. For all the character that spills over in the sound it notably never falls into the trap that snares so many "conventional tribute records" that are more about promoting the performers on record over the subject of tribute. Instead, these are great compositions presented with a renewed focus. Not unlike the enlarged detail from Andrew Hill's Point of Departure that serves as the cover art for this release.

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.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Icons of American Symphonic Works and Free Jazz

Charles Ives: The Symphonies/Orchestral Sets 1 & 2. 1973, 1976, 1994, 1995, 2000. Decca Music Group Limited: 289 466 745-2.

Symphony No. 1
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Zubin Mehta: conductor

Symphony No. 4
The Cleveland Orchestra
Christoph Von Dohnanyi: conductor
Jaha Ling: second conductor
The Cleveland Chorus
Gareth Morrell: director

Orchestral Set No. 2
The Cleveland Orchestra
Christoph Von Dohnanyi: conductor

Symphony No. 2
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Zubin Mehta: conductor

Symphony No. 3 "The camp meeting"
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
Neville Marriner: conductor

Three Places in New England (Orchestral Set No. 1)
The Cleveland Orchestra
Christoph Von Dohnanyi: conductor

Is there any particular reason the Charles Ives Symphony No. 4 isn't the most revered work in the orchestral canon? It has all the substance, formal depth and psychological impact of any of the war horses. The creative and well arranged use of chorus equals - if not surpasses - the "Ode to Joy" of Beethoven's Ninth. The quarter-tone harmonies offer up a harmonic density that matches the rhythmic innovations that require a second conductor. And none of these devices slip into gimmick or superficial effect. I think that some of the resistance to a full embrace of this piece has its roots in the American-ness of its themes and its composer. Audiences of orchestral music - and lets be honest, they're a conservative assemblage by and large - are geared for Germanic heft and much less generous toward domestic accomplishments of equal quality and importance.

But time is on the side of the timeless. Audiences will lose their teeth and fade away. But the substance of these Ives symphonic works will endure and will eventually earn its own abuses of Ives Festivals equal to those afforded Beethoven, Mahler and Mozart. Fortunately, there are recordings such as these to reinforce such convictions for ears hearing well beyond what today's symphony subscription holder is prepared to accept.

Ornette Coleman: Beauty is a Rare Thing. [disc 4] 1993. Rhino Records: R2 71410.

Sessions from August 2, 1960 and December 21, 1960 in New York City
Ornette Coleman: alto saxophone
Don Cherry: pocket trumpet
Charlie Haden: bass
Ed Blackwell: drums
Scott LaFaro: bass
Billy Higgins: drums
Eric Dolphy: bass clarinet
Freddie Hubbard: trumpet

This is the disc that contains "Free Jazz." The ground breaking 1960 session that turned a double quartet loose for an extended period of free improvisation. The musicians and their ability to hear contributing to the outstanding results that have since opened up generations of players to free improvisation and ushering in a body of music that is profoundly inspiring. I notice that this session fell one day after a large ensemble collaboration with Gunther Schuller that produced an adventurous, meticulously arranged and innovative sound. There was something in the air in New York at this time that opened the minds and ears to this incredibly successful experiment. There was a willingness to mine a new sound coupled with a need to break past all rigid structural pre-meditation. So much was made possible by this music. An important touch stone buried within a box set rich with so many vibrant works from this initial period of Ornette Coleman's early sound.

Thomas Chapin Trio plus Brass: Insomnia. 1992 (re-released as disc 3 of the Alive box set in 1999). Knitting Factory Records: 35828 02482-2.

Thomas Chapin: alto saxophone, flute
Mario Pavone: bass
Michael Sarin: drums
Al Bryant: trumpet
Frank London: trumpet
Curtis Fowlkes: trombone
Peter McEachern: trombone
Marcus Rojas: tuba
Ray Stewart: tuba

All the reasons Thomas Chapin is remembered fondly documented in sound. The core trio that was Chapin's creative vehicle of soaring material combined with the arranging prowess of an expanded ensemble of brass. And there's not a weak musical link between each individual involved. The groove heavy, cathartic release of Coup D'Etat balancing well against the smooth choral arrangement of Equatoria. The two trio tracks turning inward to the core group that allowed so much improvisational freedom for every member. Music that spans an expanse that embraces whimsy and focused seriousness with the same degree of sweat. The lurching, pulsating grooves giving this sound an infectious physicality that effortlessly buoys the crackling whit and intelligence coursing through every vein of this breathing music. Heart and mind are rarely so cooperative as this.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Storms and Conversations

Richard Strauss: Tone Poems. 1957, 1963, 1988. Deutsche Grammophon: 463 190-2.

Eine Alpensinfonie op. 64
Staatskapelle Dresden
Karl Böhm: conductor

Don Juan op. 20
Staatskapell Dresden
Karl Böhm: conductor

Der Rosenkavalier: Waltzes from Act III
Berliner Philharmoniker
Karl Böhm: conductor

Also sprach Zarathustra op. 30
Berlin Philharmoniker
Michel Schwalbe: violin solo
Karl Böhm: conductor

Festliches Praludium op. 61
Berliner Philharmoniker
Wolfgang Meyer: organ
Karl Böhm: conductor

Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche op. 28
Berliner Philharmoniker
Karl Böhm: conductor

Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils
Berliner Philharmoniker
Karl Böhm: conductor

Ein Heldenleben op. 40
Staatskapelle Dresden
Erich Muhlbach: violin solo
Karl Böhm: conductor

Tod und Verklarung op. 24
Staatskapelle Dresden
Karl Böhm: conductor

You have to give Richard Strauss credit. When he wrote a storm the orchestra booms with the thunder and lightning as the winds of an angry weather front rip through the ensemble. When he wrote pastoral settings or about transfigurement from death he tapped into a calm tranquility that barely ripples with each lyrical passage. Joys, defeats, battles and passions each get their due in watercolors painted with orchestral coloration. Poetry in tones. As one who rarely has much appetite for the late Romantic composers and their excesses this is one referential point that requires some familiarity from time to time. And you can hardly improve upon the interpretive details found under Karl Böhm's baton. Even when these details were often only recorded in glorious mono.

Elliott Sharp: Doing the Don't. Directed by Bert Shapiro. 2008. A Pheasants Eye Production. DVD.

As the music of Elliott Sharp began to catch my imagination and grow increasingly important to me I used to scour and devour what scraps of interviews and information I could about this unique and highly individual composer/musician. A full length documentary about him felt improbable. Just finding an interview or write up that was sympathetic was difficult enough. So many writers were (and are) quick to dismiss him as "too heady" or "too cerebral" and often imply or state outright that the reader would be put off by his music. Here we are allowed to hear Elliott Sharp in his own words and view him in action. The heady, cerebral qualities of his music and personality are an asset. For curious minds willing to take on challenging sounds and ideas rather than interpreting them as hostile this is a body of music that deserves its due even as it continues to evolve. The extras on this disc alone make it worth the time to take it all in. Archival video of Sharp's legendary staging of Larynx at the Brooklyn Academy of Music "Next Wave" festival in 1987! (Is there a revival of that composition in the works?) A full recording of Orchestra Carbon performing Quarks Swim Free. Plus an examination of Sharp's homemade instrument designs. Excellent and completely overdue.

Lee Konitz: The Lee Konitz Duets. 1967 (re-released in 1990). Milestone Records: OJCCD-466-2.

Lee Konitz: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, Varitone saxophone
in duets (and ensemble) with:
Marshall Brown: trombone
Joe Henderson: tenor saxophone
Richie Kamuca: tenor saxophone
Ray Nance: violin
Jim Hall: guitar
Dick Katz: piano
Karl Berger: vibraharp
Eddie Gomez: bass
Elvin Jones: drums

One of the great jazz records from an artist responsible for so many unassuming gems over his thankfully long career. The focused, conversational interaction between improvisers unfolds sequentially as each track adds a new instrumental voice along side Konitz's confident lyricism. The quality of these players is difficult to overstate. These "conversations" - often draped along a predetermined chart - are generous in their inventive give and take. Bringing in the full ensemble (minus the incredible Ray Nance) at the end takes on the feel of a final curtain call after being afforded glimpses into each individual component.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Drowning Ghosts

San Francisco Symphony: Mahler '09 Festival
Michael Tilson Thomas: conductor
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA

Hymnos (1963) Giacinto Scelsi
Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor (1901) Gustav Mahler

The restricted note content of Hymnos - enriched by microtonal variation and overtone spectrum scattered through two "mirrored" orchestras and organ - is composed in a manner that produces an unearthly phantom "choir" sound of difference tones that hovers in the invisible ether beyond the performers on stage. A psycho acoustic effect referenced by the title of the piece. A fleeting glimpse into the transcendent sonic spaces Scelsi explored through meditation and his singular fixation on tone. It's one of the qualities that makes Hymnos such a compelling work.

This phantom choir did not appear at Saturday night's performance. Subdued - or scared off - by the multitude of mortal humans in the concert hall. But mostly drowned out by volume. The unearthly choir of difference tones is easily dissipated by performing too loudly. Which is understandable given the extreme courage it takes to operate at low volume levels in a room full of restless souls squirming and coughing throughout the concert hall. This particular performance was prefaced by a long introduction and explanation of Giacinto Scelsi's aesthetic from Michael Tilson Thomas. Downplaying the intensity of spirituality, meditation and insanity and the roles each respectively plays within Scelsi's music at the expense of over emphasizing his eccentricities is perhaps the correct manner for introducing the uninitiated to this incredible sonic universe. Though I think some of this earnest desire to make the music more broadly appealing may have played a role in softening - in this case "loudening" - a performance more closely attuned to its origins. Meditation as ritual and exotic recourse as opposed to looking unflinchingly within.

Even with these compromises, Hymnos took on brilliant qualities as various details of the composition emerged from the stage. It is an amazing piece that prismatically allows different sonic elements to emerge given any range interpretive liberties. I suspect the phantom choir is absent more often than not.

The second "half" (splitting a program into an 11-minute "half" and a 70-minute "half" making for an oddly unnecessary intermission) featured the workhorse Mahler Symphony No. 5 that most in the hall were there to hear. No introduction. No explanation. Just the sprawling, late-Romantic score unfolding within a language co-opted for nearly a century of Hollywood film scores written in its wake. Moments of exquisite orchestration and arranging glued together with legato string lines. And devilishly well crafted crescendos into crowd pleasing codas. A pleasant piece that draws upon the pathos of Gustav Mahler that not-so-subtly evokes the ghosts of another era. A work that is loud by design, and the symphony played it that way.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Extended and Cultured

Terry Riley: The Book of Abbeyozzud. 1999. New Albion: NA 106 CD.

David Tanenbaum: guitar
Gyan Riley: guitar
Tracy Silverman: violin
William Winant: percussion

For those in the know about Terry Riley's prowess at arranging and spinning great compositional yarns this documentation of acoustic guitar music is no mere curiosity. It has so many of the Riley-esque musical qualities without slotting into the immediate frames of In C or Poppy Nogood. This music weaves an impressive melodic tapestry along inventive narrative forms. One of many arguments for hearing the entire creative catalogue of this American icon.

Charity Chan: Somewhere the Sea and Salt. 2009. Actuellecd: AM 188.

Charity Chan: extended piano, objects

Animated by a pair of inspired ideas: a steady focus on extended piano technique as a timbral playground of percussive expanse and recording this material from the perspective of the performer. It's amazing how much the nuances of extended piano sounds shift relative to the ears perceiving the struck, plucked, strummed and manipulated strings within the instrument. Somewhere the Sea and Salt is offered as a creative encyclopedia of sonorities discovered and coaxed by Chan from the piano. The use of resonance is particularly striking - and a clear path of innovation. The short tracks unfolding as poetry written in sonority.

Kronos Quartet: Nuevo. 2002. Nonesuch: 79649-2.

Kronos Quartet:
David Harrington: violin
John Sherba: violin
Hank Dutt: viola
Jennifer Culp: cello

El Sinaloense (1943) by Severiano Briseno
arranged by Osvaldo Golijov

Se Me Hizo Facil (1959) by August Lara
arranged by Osvaldo Golijov
with Luanne Warner: marimba

Mini Skirt (1968) by Juan Garcia Esquivel
arranged by Osvaldo Golijov

El Llorar - traditional
arranged by Osvaldo Golijov
with Alejandro Flores: vocals, violin
Efren Vargas: vocals

Perfidia (1939) by Alberto Dominguez
arranged by Stephen Prutsman
with Carlos Garcia: musical leaf

Sensemaya (1937) by Silvestre Revueltas
arranged by Stephen Prutsman
with Tambuco Percussion Ensemble:
Richardo Gallardo, Alfredo Bringas, Claudia Oliveira, Raul Tudon: percussion

K'in Sventa Ch'ul Me'tik Kwadulupe (2001) by Osvaldo Golijov
with Luanne Warner: marimba
Rominko Patixtan Patixtan: arpa (harp)
Pegro Lunes Tak'il Bek'et: vob (guitar)
Carmen Gomez Oso, Xun Perez Hol Cotom, Rominko Mendez Xik: vocals

Tabu (1941) by Margarita Lecuona
arranged by Osvaldo Golijov
with Luis Conte: percussion

Cuatro Milpas (1926) by Belisario Garcia de Jesus and Jose Elizondo
arranged by Stephen Prutsman
with anonymous: organillo

Chavosuite (2001)
arrangement by Ricardo Gallardo
with Gustavo Santaolalla: toys, percussion

Plasmaht (2001) by Ariel Guzik
arranged by Kronos Quartet
with Ariel Guzik: plasmaht

Nacho Verduzco (1992) by Chalino Sanchez
arranged by Osvaldo Golijov

12/12 (2000) by Cafe Tacuba (Ruben Albarran, Emmanuel del Real, Enrique Rangel, Jose Alfredo Rangel)
with Cafe Tuba:
Ritacantalagua: electric guitar
Emmanuel del Real: programming, keyboards, jarana
Quique: jarana, concha, programming
Joselo: electric guitar
Alejandro Flores: violin, requinto

El Sinaloense (Dance Mix) (2001)
Remixed by Plankton Man

I've generally had mixed feelings about Kronos albums heavy on arrangements as opposed to pieces written specifically for the Kronos String Quartet. There's a part of me that still holds enormous curiosity for what pieces composers are throwing at this ensemble. However, Nuevo is essentially a concept album that is strengthened by the often high quality arrangements and augmentations upon the two violin, viola and cello instrumentation. As a cohesive listening experience it succeeds tremendously. Silvestre Revueltas' Sensemaya - arranged here for string quartet and percussion quartet - is the high point of this listening as Revueltas continues to be a strong point of interest for these ears. This is then followed by the achingly beautiful K'in Sventa Ch'ul Me'tik Kwadulupe that tastefully places Kronos Quartet at the alter for the "Festival for the Holy Mother Guadalupe." Other high points abound in this recording. Yet it is the experience as a whole that holds it together in compelling fashion. Like a one hour sampler of delirium that pays homage to the cultural treasures of Mexico.