Saturday, April 03, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Restrained Noise

Carla Bley: The Lost Chords find Paolo Fresu. 2007. Watt Works/ECM: WATT794/B0010120-02.

Carla Bley: piano
Paolo Fresu: trumpet, flugelhorn
Andy Sheppard: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
Steve Swallow: bass
Billy Drummond: drums

Clearly the same mind and creative impulse behind the arrangements performed by Charlie Haden and the Liberation Music Orchestra. Carla Bley takes the beautiful - and in the case of Paolo Fresu's tone and phrasing there is no shortage of beauty - and deftly prevents it from sliding into pretty. Carla Bley is so good, the results so slippery with gentle quirks and ideas that she tends to be underrated. She is the genuine article with compositions reinforced by her remarkable arranging prowess. "The Banana Quintet" makes for an excellent showcase for her ideas along with the Fresu lines woven throughout its bluesy appeal.

The Zs: 4 Systemz: Brown 1951. 2007. Planaria: PR029.

Sam Hillmer: tenor saxophone
Matthew Hough: electric guitar
Charlie Looker: electric guitar, baritone guitar
Ian Antonion: drumset, percussion
Brad Wentworth: drumset, percussion

The graphic scores of Earle Brown allow for enormous flexibility in instrumentation and interpretation. Like any form of notation, the sonic quality depends upon the ability of the performer. Graphic notation calling for an improvisation that reflects the visuals. The Zs find an intriguing sense of Brown's 4 Systems with a taut performance that is nearly transparent with everything operating at low dynamic levels. The sparse layers of drums against electric guitars played acoustically and soft held tones on the saxophone comes through the speakers with the gentle ferocity of a summer breeze through an open window.

Michele Rabbia/Marilyn Crispell/Vincent Courtois: Shifting Grace. 2006. Cam Jazz: CAMJ 7791-2.

Michele Rabbia: percussion
Marilyn Crispell: piano
Vincent Courtois: cello

Three musicians, six ears and a singular, lyrical sound that passes through. Sometimes as a trio, duo or solo. The tension of hearing master musicians applying so much restraint combined with the blurring between free improvisation and composed music (there are elements of each here) leaving no sign where one leaves off and the other begins. At times the ideas and lines pass seamlessly through piano, percussion and cello. The prolonged understatement standing as evidence of the profound listening ability shared between these performers.

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