Monday, February 15, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Karlheinz, Thelonious and Leroy

Karlheinz Stockhausen: Klavier Stuecke. 1994. Hat Hut Records: hat ART CD 6142.

David Tudor: piano

An aesthetic summit from an era of hyper rationalism. Animated by the incomparable pianism of David Tudor. One of a hand full of large scale piano works that pursues a willingness to test human perceptions of note groupings centered around dynamic range - as opposed to proximity or tonal harmonic construction. With some familiarity and disciplined practice one can bend their perception to hear the elaborate organizational structures in this music. But to simply immerse the ears and hear it as music is a different - and arguably more rewarding - experience in and of itself. Tudor's interpretation prevents this music from sliding into an abyss of cold, technical precision. Even with technical precision present in spades. Instead, I hear the longing to force musical progress down this particular byway and the tension of nearly succeeding despite the proximity of a logical extreme end point.

Elliott Sharp: Sharp? Monk? Sharp! Monk! - Elliott Sharp Plays the Music of Thelonious Monk. 2006. Clean Feed: CFG001CD.

Elliott Sharp: acoustic guitar

I remember catching Elliott Sharp's 1994 tour with Carbon in Seattle. This was just after they had released Truthtable - arguably the edgiest studio recording this incarnation of the group would ever record - and in the midst of playing a blistering set Elliott Sharp took out his soprano saxophone and told the audience, "this is not jazz" before launching into some circular breathing, looping patterns. The image of "jazz" as standards, show tunes, lounge acts and the stomach churning nausea of "smooth" reinforced by image of Kenny G with a soprano saxophone demanded a considerable amount of distance from what Sharp was doing.

The reality was - and is - that Sharp's uncompromising integrity is much closer to the original innovators that made jazz great. Thelonius Monk, with that melodic approach that was so shocking in its day finds a natural affinity with the individualistic sound Sharp has honed on the acoustic guitar. This recording is a wonderful homage to that enduring influence. It also happens to be a wonderful solo guitar record. The question and answer posed in the title nodding to the perceived distance between two artists. The respect paid and honest artistry captured in this documentation providing the exclamation point to the answer to the question.

Leroy Jenkins: Theme & Improvisations on the Blues. 1994. CRI: 663.

Themes & Improvisations on the Blues (1986)
The Soldier String Quartet
Laura Seaton: violin
David Soldier: violin
Ron Lawrence: viola
Mary Wooten: cello

Panorama 1 (1983)
Leroy Jenkins: violin
Henry Threadgill: flute
Don Byron: clarinet
Marty Ehrlich: bass clarinet
Vincent Chancey: french horn

Off Duty Dryad (1990)
The Soldier String Quartet
Laura Seaton: violin
David Soldier: violin
Ron Lawrence: viola
Mary Wooten: cello
Lindsey Horner: bass

Monkey on the Dragon (1989)
Leroy Jenkins: solo violin
Henry Threadgill: flute
Don Byron: clarinet
Marty Ehrlich: bass clarinet
Janet Grice: bassoon
Vincent Chancey: french horn
Frank Gordon: trumpet
Jeff Hoyer: trombone
Thurman Baker: traps
Myra Melford: piano
David Soldier: violin
Jane Henry: violin
Ron Lawrence: viola
Mary Wooten: cello
Lindsey Horner: bass
Tania Leon: conductor

A recital of chamber works by the great jazz improviser and violinist. The lineup of performers is an impressive mix of fellow improvisers and practitioners of composed music. The music itself is thick with ideas and enough details that it takes multiple listenings to absorb the many layers and nuances. It is unquestionably worth several listenings. I would like to hear multiple interpretations of each of these works.

1 comment:

Jerrie said...

WOW!! I got behind. You've been doing a lot of listening. Good stuff.