Saturday, April 10, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Bach, Beethoven, Ayler

Johann Sebastian Bach: Bach Edition [disc III - I]. 2006. Brilliant Classics: 93102/47.

Holland Boys Choir
Pieter Jan Leusink: conductor
Ruth Holton: soprano
Sytse Buwalda: alto
Knut Schoch: tenor
Bas Ramselaar: bass

John Wilson Meyer: violin
Peter Frankenberg: oboe
Frank Wakelkamp: cello
Martin Mans: church organ

Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott BWV 80
Ich habe genug BVW 82
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BVW 61

Just in case it has been a while since you've indulged in a Bach cantata or two (or three) here is a reminder of the beautiful materials he was working with: early tonal language influenced by the Renaissance composers, voices doing breath taking things over a churning Baroque harmonic landscape and an expression of faith that is almost impossible to reconcile with contemporary beliefs. This is pretty awe inspiring music that is well performed and recorded. The sensation of how strong this musical root is is pretty hard to ignore. It's audible and it fills my secular space nicely.

Ludwig Van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets [volume VII]. 1994. Delos: DE 3037.

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

String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 18, No. 4
String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132

The Opus 18 is a polite, classical number that would barely cause a ripple through the genteel class while the later Opus 132 offers a glimpse into the introspective soul searching of Beethoven. The gap in time, discipline and intention between the early and late works is particularly pronounced here. The terrifying ability to compose a theme and develop it in increasingly inventive ways takes a turn toward expansive formal considerations that thankfully erode at the genteel sensibilities. Beethoven found a way to make music far more important than just pleasant. An emphatic argument against music for the purpose of mood.

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost [disc 6]. 2004. Revenant Records: 213.

Albert Ayler Quintet - June 30 - July 1, 1967 at Freebody Park, Newport, Rhode Island

Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, vocals
Don Ayler: trumpet
Michel Samson: violin
Bill Folwell: bass
Milford Graves: drums

Albert Ayler Quartet - July 21, 1967 at St. Peter's Lutheran Church, New York City - John Coltrane's funeral

Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone, vocals
Don Ayler: trumpet
Richard Davis: bass
Milford Graves: drums

Pharoah Sanders - January 21, 1968 at the Renaissance Ballroom, New York City

Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone
Chris Capers: trumpet
unknwon: alto saxophone
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
unknown: tenor saxophone
Dave Burrell: piano
Sirone: bass
Roger Blank: drums

Albert Ayler - late August, 1968. New York City

Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone, vocal, solo recitation
Call Cobbs: piano, rocksichord
Bill Folwell: electric bass
Bernard Purdie: drums
Mary Parks: vocal, tambourine
Vivian Bostic: vocal

The sixth disc in this box set is such a mixed bag. Representing much of the passion, love and blind alleys Albert Ayler pursued in his far too short time in this dimension. The quintet set from Newport features plenty of Michel Samson's free improvising violin sound that compliments Ayler's creative world so well. Milford Grave's drum work makes this archival recording well worth the time spent listening. From there we move to the passionate expression of love and loss at John Coltrane's funeral and a rough, yet fascinating, run through Pharoah Sander's "Venus" and "Upper and Lower Egypt." Then this disc seems to step off a cliff into the New Grass territory with some out takes and rough takes (and even a sermon) from his collaborations with Mary Parks to meld Ayler's sound with rhythm and blues. Ayler throws himself at this material with plenty of verve. Even when he fronts the group as a vocalist (he's a much better on saxophone). In the end, these last tracks provoke a sadness and a cautionary example of what can happen when one takes an honest voice and works to make it artificially "accessible."

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