Friday, June 27, 2008

gtm wednesday, part two

[more thoughts and observations from a day full of gtm - as they occurred to me, and some specific to the pieces in question, some more general]

3. 1120 - comp. 192

restructures link

- the effect of this performance is just pure delight - it has me smiling from ear to ear, long before it gets to any actual funny bits (and there are some of those). so it comes about that today, right there and then, i learn first-hand what i've heard before plenty of times, namely that smiling can make you feel better: it's not just about emotions or mood, it can elevate all the muscles of the neck and chest, lift the heart and lungs completely clear of the abdomen... the accompanying space is in turn felt joyously by the heart. (well... admittedly i've had trouble reproducing those exact feelings since then! but it happened spontaneously on the day.)

- the two of them are so synchronised in their attacks and inflections, not just their notes, that the trance state is in full effect right away. (somehow this is the key to it, the synchronising of attack - we know the notes don't have to be the same, since some of the pieces are written using b's diamond clef.) newton's voice manages to sound simultaneously loose to be the point of being vague, and yet astonishingly precise - i find myself imagining her to be completely scatty in her private life! this is how the voice comes across to me, and yet at the same time she sounds as if she could split a hair into two, four, eight, sixteen with that same voice, and without breaking sweat. this combination of qualities, of course, makes her an ideal interpreter for braxton.

- after a while newton drops out and then we do actually have that anomaly, a solo gtm recital... but then this (solo) is not part of the main fabric, it's rather a happening, an outgrowth, a capsule - for the first time i find myself seeing the gtm compositions as being like hotels or museums or galleries, large buildings filled with rooms, so numerous that one visit can only take in so many at a time, and the permutations for subsequent visits are endless: some of the larger ensembles are so detailed that the separate rooms contain not just their own furniture but totally individual decor, no two are alike. and for this reason each performance will be different, guaranteed...

- later a megaphone (or something similar) makes me think of george lewis, and again i smile right away...

- one of the rooms in this building is a crystal cave, fully constructed here just by the two players (b. on flute at this point, and newton using bells and/or finger percussion)... spellbinding :))

- the honks and bangs and such sound so well-placed, when they arrive... netwon supplies most of these of course, but b. joins in for a while with some duck noises... and is that then a child's toy keyboard newton is playing??

so much ground seems to be covered, and in so little time... "time": just listening to this music, indeed, makes one rethink one's concept of time again and again.

4. 1235 - comp. 343

restructures link

[i am now fully engaged in the sorting process described in part one... it's pretty much taken me this long to get round to starting it! so the earlier sections of this - a concert which i saw live and can therefore relive in my mind's eye, in any case - are closer to being pure background music than the previous discs]

- thb is a worthy heir to the esteemed "braxbrass" tradition - wheeler, lewis, ray anderson, hugh ragin, roland dahinden etc etc - but surely he is closest to lewis in spirit: he really is a perfect foil for the leader. mary halvorson, too, works really well here, her relationship to the music being something i didn't grasp very well at the time of the concert. (the music, and my understanding of it, seems to change every time i hear it - though this session isn't the best example! still, it makes me realise the extent to which i was not able to take in what was really happening, at the time of the concert - despite my being on the edge of my seat, pretty much, and fully focussed... i just wasn't experienced enough to be able to follow what was unfolding before me.)

- by the end, with electronics in use, the sound is truly unearthly. the leader's solos, too, are more amazing each time i hear them - i remember the speed and articulation impressing me at the time, but my ear was not yet able to appreciate the subtle shadings which b. layers over his basic sound... in truth, these moments are probably the only ones which claim my full attention on this occasion, but they're enough..!

5. 1345 - comps. 185 and 186

restructures link

- endless pictures, endlessly changing! the sound is like a kaleidoscope, always folding back in on itself and presenting new patterns, textures... by the time the whole sextet is playing, there's an entire carnival on display.

- pain takes over for later parts of this session, distracting me from everything else. it seems to be particularly keyed into dahinden's trombone, with its low throbbing (much in evidence in the latter parts of this album) - but eventually it clears, as the piece moves towards resolution.

- in contrast to my first impressions of this album, some of the later parts (when i am able to focus on the music) seem "slow", relatively static, though the pace of the second composition is slightly faster than the first. it's as if they have coalesced somehow, during the performance... or that's the limit of my attention today...

* * *

(part three still to come)

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