Sunday, December 19, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: The Persistence of Dissonance

Dave Douglas with Jim McNeely & Frankfurt Radio Bigband: A Single Sky. 2009. Greenleaf: Gre-1011.

Dave Douglas: trumpet
Frankfurt Radio Bigband
Jim McNeely: conductor
Oliver Leicht: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, alto flute, clarinet
Stefan Pfeifer-Galilea: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet
Rony Lakatos: tenor saxophone, flute
Steffen Weber: tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet
Rainer Heute: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
Chad Shoopman: trumpet
Thomas Vogel: trumpet
Martin Auer: trumpet, flugel horn
Axel Schlosser: trumpet
Gunter Bollmann: trombone
Peter Feil: trombone
Christian Jakasjo: trombone
Manfred Honetschlager: bass trombone
Martine Scales: guitar
Peter Reiter: piano
Thomas Heidepriem: bass
Jean Paul Hochstadter: drums

"The Persistence of Memory" is an iconic Dave Douglas tune originally recorded on In Our Lifetime in 1995. The bass line, the languid melodic groove and its great harmonies left me wondering why it isn't covered by jazz players all over the world. The arrangement by Jim McNeely caught me by surprise and immediately transported me to that same awe I felt when I first discovered that tune. The Frankfurt Radio Bigband perform "The Persistence of Memory" with more than enough verve to help vaunt that tune toward a world without sufficient bandwidth to properly celebrate such excellence.

A Single Sky is a Dave Douglas record with a split identity. There is the glimpse of three movements from Douglas' own Delighted States suite. Leaving the ears hungry to experience the complete work along with the insight into Dave Douglas' arranging techniques. Then there are the Jim McNeely arrangements of Dave Douglas tunes that show off this incredible big band. Not to mention McNeely's exquisite arranging instincts. These also hint at something much larger than can be contained on this single disc. I hope there are more collaborations like this. Because this is already one of the great Douglas recordings. Highly recommended.

The Sun Ra All Stars Band: Hiroshima. 2007. Art Yard: LP 2007.

Sun Ra: piano, pipe organ
John Gilmore: tenor saxophone
Marshall Allen: alto saxophone
Archie Shepp: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
Don Cherry: pocket trumpet
Lester Bowie: trumpet
Philly Joe Jones: drums
Richard Davis: bass
Don Moye: drums, percussion
Clifford Jarvis: drums

The 'A' side of this LP deserves to be played at a healthy volume as Sun Ra's psychedelic pipe organ solo transmits its stern messages from outer space to all living creatures of Earth. It is a performance that draws upon the devastating shock waves of an atomic device. The fade at the end suggesting that this music could (and probably did) go on for an eternity. The 'B' side offers up some free association improvisation between a collection of giants. Hearing it is like chancing upon a conversation between artists still realizing their collective voice. Raw, unpolished and utterly beautiful.

Dane Rudhyar: Works for Piano. 2004. Hat Hut Records: hat[now]ART 140.

Steffen Schleiermacher: piano

Granites (1929)
Three Paeans (1927)
Tetragrams 1st Serie (1920-27)
Third Pentagram (1926)

Steffen Schleiermacher understands the fortissimo that this music calls for. The bombastic lyricism delivered like a fist to a wall of granite. The draw of Dane Rudhyar's piano works is that so much tenderness and mysticism can lurk within such passages of density and exquisite dissonance. Melodies surviving (and even thriving) within these pounding, modern textures. Recordings such as this allow me to subsist and scratch that Rudhyar itch until the inevitable Dane Rudhyar revival festivals begin. An important and under appreciated voice from the American compositional tapestry.

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