Sunday, February 07, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Albright, Solal, Douglas and Haden

William Albright/PRISM Quartet: Music for Saxophones. 2007. Innova: 687.

PRISM Quartet:
Timothy McAllister: soprano saxophone
Michael Whitcombe: alto saxophone
Matthew Levy: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone
Taimur Sullivan: baritone saxophone, alto saxophone

University of Michigan Symphony Band
H. Robert Reynolds: conductor
Michael Lowenstern: bass clarinet
Marilyn Nonken: piano
Matthew Herskowitz: piano

Fantasy Etudes for saxophone quartet (1993)
Heater: Saga for alto saxophone and band (1977)
Pit Band for alto saxophone, bass clarinet and piano (1993)
Doo-Dah for three alto saxophones (1975)
Sonata for alto saxophone and piano (1984)

William Albright (1944 - 1998) was a longtime fixture at the University of Michigan where he received his doctorate and served as chairman of the music department. The labor of love that this recording represents is difficult to miss. The legacy of students and colleagues he inspired over the years is incalculable. The legacy of compositions may leave an even deeper impression as the scope of his works becomes clear. The Fantasy Etudes for saxophone quartet is the opening salvo of this disc. It is an impressive, deeply thoughtful and artfully worked out piece. Albright's reported skills as an organist is at work as he applied his ideas to saxophone quartet. One can hear the instruments serving as pipes as well as an adept improviser weaving his spontaneity into this music. Ideas flow thick and furious as each meticulous detail is worked out without losing sight of the work as a whole. The pieces that follow solidify the impression left behind by the etudes.

Martial Solal/Dave Douglas: Rue De Seine. 2006. Cam Cine TV Music: Cam 5013.

Martial Solal: piano
Dave Douglas: trumpet

Dave Douglas as a jazz trumpet player. For all the press nonsense about his incorporation of "non-jazz" influences or insinuations that he's too "intellectual" to swing and the imaginary conflict with a Marsalis establishment there must be an almost willful deafness to hear how artfully Dave Douglas plays - and plays homage to the traditions of - jazz. Dave Douglas is a jazz trumpet player and he's one of the best of his generation. Recordings like the duo of Marial Solal and Dave Douglas in Rue De Seine are a gift that drive home just how thoroughly steeped in the tradition both of these innovative players are. Hearing the interpretations of the Dave Douglas Quintet pieces (that are so familiar to these ears) is a particular revelation. Solal's solo take on "For Suzannah" is a devestating interpretation of Douglas's beautiful composition. After a few rounds of interpreting originals this pair turns their attention to the standards of Rogers and Hart and Hammerstein to close out this set. Leaving no trace of doubt. These are jazz musicians and they are in rare form on this recording.

Charlie Haden/Liberation Music Orchestra: Not In Our Name. 2005. Verve: B0004949-02.

Charlie Haden: bass
Carla Bley: piano, arrangements
Michael Rodriguez: trumpet
Seneca Black: trumpet
Curtis Fowlkes: trombone
Ahnee Sharon Freeman: french horn
Joe Daley: tuba
Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone
Chris Cheek: tenor saxophone
Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone
Steve Cardenas: guitar
Matt Wilson: drums

A profoundly patriotic expression built upon dissent and propelled by the disappointments surrounding the 2004 general election. A defiantly beautiful and optimistic body of music borne from the depths of despair and alarm at the forces of greed and cruelty that held onto power. Carla Bley's arrangements are a wonder here (as they are on every Liberation Music Orchestra endeavor). Some of the most deeply soul stirring music I know of.