Saturday, December 18, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Monkey Mind and Human Ears

Zeitgeist: In Bone-Colored Light. 2010. Innova: 774.

Heather Barringer: percussion
Patti Cudd: percussion
Pat O'Keefe: woodwinds
Shannon Wettstein: piano
with Jerome Kitzke: vocals and whistle on title track

Anthony Gatto
: Lucky Dreams
Ivo Medek: Into The Same River
Jerome Kitzke: In Bone-Colored Light
Kathy Jackanich: Polarity
Ethan Wickman: Angles of Repose

Zeitgeist is a St. Paul based new music ensemble that features works with a spiritual bent. Music of healing and rooted-ness that draws out my monkey mind long before I can settle into the calm tranquility that these sounds require. Once that mental zone is realized this disc becomes an enormously rewarding journey. But it takes a few spins before that initial resistance wears away. Beautifully recorded with a deceptively clean sense of rhythmic precision. The unison lines that trickle through Into The Same River are executed with jaw dropping exactness. The sense of ensemble balance is also stunning. Lucky Dreams opens this disc with an invocation that is unfolded sequentially. Angels of Repose concludes with a symmetrically similar sense of sequential arrangement. In between there are works that touch upon story telling, texturally vivid arranging and flights of whimsy.

Alban Berg: Wozzeck. (Recorded in 1998). EMI Classics: 7243 5 56865 2 7.

Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg
Ingo Metzmacher: conductor
Chor der Hamburgischen Staatsoper
Steffen Kammler: chorus master

Bo Skovhus: Wozzeck

Jan Blinkhoff: Tambourmajor
Jurgen Sacher: Andres
Chris Merritt: Hauptmann
Frode Olsen: Doktor
Konrad Ruff: Handerwerksbursch 1
Kay Stiefermann: Handerwerksbursch 2
Frieder Stricker: Der Narr
Angela Denoke: Marie
Renate Spingler: Margret
Daniel Michel: Mariens Knabe
Findlay A. Johnstone: Soldat

Still one of the high water marks of operatic achievement that could easily endure another century of listening (and stagings). Alban Berg's thick textures paint the air with a vivid Germanic expressionism. Each listening exposes new threads and ideas that give this work enormous vitality. The use of stylistic idioms within the larger canvas - ensembles from within the orchestra - is fascinating. The marching band, the waltz and the out of tune piano that provide a sense of place within this rich and atonal universe. Then there is the orchestration and the inventive use of vocal lines along with the formal construction of this work. It is one of the greats.

Now Orchestra & Marilyn Crispell: Pola. 2005. Victo: cd 097.

Marilyn Crispell: piano
Coat Cooke: baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone, flute
Kate Hammett-Vaughan: voice
Bruce Freedman: alto saxophone
Graham Ord: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
Saul Berson: alto saxophone, clarinet, flute
John Korsrud: trumpet, bugle
Kevin Elaschuk: trumpet, bugle
Rod Murray: trombone
Brad Muirhead: bass trombone
Ron Samworth: guitar
Paul Blaney: bass
Clyde Reed: bass
Dylan van der Schyff: drums

Two forces of creative improvised music that I am enormously fond of assembled for a collaborative session. Compositionally, there is more material here by Coat Cooke than there is from Marilyn Crispell. But her Ying Yang offers up a tantalizing glimpse of what a world with more big band charts by Crispell would be like (and I want to live that world). For most of this disc she is a guest performer functioning as an equal part of the overall soundscape. Exchanging the Paul Plimley sound (also another force of creative improvised music worthy of great enthusiasm) for Marilyn Crispell on the piano makes this a unique NOW Orchestra experience. Though my ears greedily wonder what hearing both pianists working together would sound like. A captivating glimpse into the sounds coming out of the Vancouver scene that more than piques the curiosity.

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