Sunday, February 14, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Lizards, Evil and String Quartets

Lounge Lizards: Live in Berlin 1991 Vol. II. 1995. Intuition Music: Int 2044 2.

John Lurie: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone
Michael Blake: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
Steven Bernstein: trumpet, cornet
Jane Scarpantoni: cello
Bryan Carrott: vibraphone, marimba, timpani
Michele Navazio: guitar
Billy Martin: percussion
Oren Bloedow: bass
G. Calvin Weston: drums

There is generous space for individual cadenzas and isolated pairing within this larger ensemble on this documentation of the live Lounge Lizards experience from 1991. There is also an element of whimsy at work as the groove propels this music that carries the heavier, serious turns of phrase and arranging. While this recording does not disappoint, the studio outings seem to deliver more unexpected surprises.

Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil. 1964 (Rudy Van Gelder re-issue from 1999). Blue Note Records: 7243 4 99001 2 7.

Wayne Shorter: tenor saxophone
Freddie Hubbard: trumpet
Herbie Hancock: piano
Ron Carter: bass
Elvin Jones: drums

This one crackles with all the spark and energy that has since made Speak No Evil an undisputed hard bop classic. It's recordings like this that make the awe that each of these performers inspire abundantly clear. As a pianist my ears gravitate to Herbie Hancock's playing and find my own awe renewed. "Infant Eyes" in particular opens the ears to the potential of well constructed (and sensitively played) ballads.

T.E.C.K. String Quartet: T.E.C.K. String 4tet. 2007. Clean Feed: CF089CD.

Thomas Ulrich: cello
Elliott Sharp: acoustic guitar, national tricone
Carlos "Zingaro": violin
Ken Filiano: double bass

The string quartet re-conceptualized both in instrumentation and aesthetic approach. Yet the bent wires and strings still draw upon a deep tradition with the practice and experience each performer brings to the table. The mixture of European and North American free improvisers adds to a sense of disassembly through collaborative association. A sonic dialogue made more musical through the strong personalities involved. Elliott Sharp's signature sound leaps out to these ears so familiar with his work. And much of the pleasure of listening to this disc comes from hearing how it integrates or often works against the other members of this ensemble.

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