Sunday, May 16, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Untraceable Intermission

Roof: The Untraceable Cigar. 1996 (2000 re-edition). Red Note: 4.

Tom Cora: cello
Luc Ex: bass
Phil Minton: vocals
Michael Vatcher: drums

Hearing this music, or Skeleton Crew or Third Person or early Curlew or any of the Tom Cora collaborations with The Ex leaves an overwhelming sense of loss. Tom Cora's cello sound and the playful/serious approach he brought to his music was silenced far too soon. It's hard not to miss Tom Cora. Recordings like The Untraceable Cigar are a gift to the ears not just for the record of his one-of-a-kind cello improvisation. But the sonic spaces that opened up through his creative collaborations. Phil Minton's extended vocal techniques folded in with Luc Ex (of The Ex) finding such a common vibration between punk and free improvisation. The surprisingly faithful rendition of Harry Partch's The Letter, a setting from a hobo friend, is right on target with the tone and delivery of its original voice. This is music from a time to be hungrily devoured without missing the joy that exudes from its living sound.

Anthony Braxton/Evan Parker/Paul Rutherford: Trio (London) 1993. 1994. Leo Records: CD LR 197.

Anthony Braxton: reeds
Evan Parker: reeds
Paul Rutherford: trombone

So much of Anthony Braxton's career has grown out of a failure early in his creative output. A solo concert where he discovered that he could not sustain his improvisational ideas over an extended period of time. From that time forward he has developed an extensive sonic language to prevent that failure from repeating itself. And became a master improviser in the process. With that ability to stand on his own for any length of time comes the additional pleasures of extended collaboration with fellow travelers along the road of creative improvised music. Evan Parker and Paul Rutherford are clearly equal forces as this live performance from almost exactly 17 years ago to the day evidences. How many triple wind instrument ensembles could hold their own like this? Satisfyingly cerebral and emotionally charged. An inventive dialogue between artists across the Atlantic.

Morton Feldman: Complete Works for Two Pianists. 2002. Alice Musik Produktion: ALCD 024.

Kristine Scholz: piano
Mats Persson: piano

Vertical Thoughts 1
Intermission 6
Projection 3
Intermission 6
Two Pieces for Two Pianos
Piano (Three Hands)
Intermission 6
Piano Four Hands
Work for Two Pianists
Intermission 6
Two Pianos

The additional pair of hands doesn't necessarily add to the density of Feldman's sparse textures - though occasionally it does. It does add more reach along the instrument's register and an independence to explore longer patterns. These are particularly evident in the languid polyrhythms of Work for Two Pianists. But it is the consistency of sound and the qualities that carry over from the solo works that is striking. There is a rare compositional purity to Feldman's music that happens to also make for music that satisfies on so many different levels. The instrument still paints along a blank canvas with brush strokes that drip in a Feldmanesque manner. Aided by an additional pair of hands.

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