Sunday, January 27, 2013

(backwards) listening diary (inst.3 pt. 2)

saturday 19th jan - evening session

playlist 1, trs 3-8 (end)

- go on, just take a look back at that list and tell me "what's not to like"... there's not much coming up in the way of news, though a few things are worth mentioning for sure:

a. comp. 159 is seriously complex and (therefore) really satisfying if one wrestles with it, as i have done quite a bit now. it seems (here) to hinge on the playful, yet near-maddeningly obsessive echo and pre-echo between the repetitive birdcalls of the sax and the piano, pinging the message back at each other over and over again while the two "rhythm" players don't so much provide a foundation here, as do their level best to demolish the environs completely, or so it seems. but in a good way! (as i so often find myself saying these days.) - this piece can or could drive one insane, the way that obsessive line is tossed back and forth between the leader and the lady, the boiling maelstrom that underwrites it, the sheer length of it: not much change out of thirteen minutes each time you play it, but an attentive listener feels rewarded for the struggle, you bet. (i had this one first off the album for some reason (*1) and played it several times on breaks at work, either when playing pool (nope, that didn't work too well) or just hanging out... it's not an easy ride. but when was it supposed to be easy? this is the ambitious side of the quartet, or an aspect of it.

- "little melonae" has been mentioned before, briefly (and i can't remember when i'm afraid). for those not familiar with this piece, it's a jackie mclean number much admired by fellow explorers of the reed family; the jazz doctors even opened an album with it (love frank lowe. love, love frank lowe) - where the deceptively tricky, childlike melody (or shd that be "melodae"?) works perfectly for the violin as well as the sax; b. of course plays it on sopranino, fast and hard, running his fingers down those jagged contours faultlessly, setting himself up a cooking solo and leaving plenty of momentum for kevin o'neil to work with (*2). this number is pushing quarter of an hour in length, but i've played it eight or nine times recently and it never palls. i normally struggle with b's standards, let's be open and clear about this (it hasn't come up much recently). 'nuff said.

- and hey, comp. 173 is just fucking mental, man, i'm telling you... i'm not even talking about the barking-mad, brilliant dialogue written into the libretto or even the voice-totemic phonemic modulation which provides so much extra energy in the middle of the long full performance (*3); no, i just mean the relentless pace of the music, almost overwhelming in the opening piece (where attack is piled on attack for long minute on minute until the heaps and piles threaten to blot out the horizon); and much the same in the closing sequence i selected here, the only difference being it's half the length and therefore that much less overwhelming... and it's still crazy. even by our guy's standards... truly a very, very demanding and deeply rewarding musical conception, here encapsulated in one seriously action-packed coda.

[... aha, and timing being the serendipitous thing that is (for me, at the moment), next up from the TCF vaults in february is another one of those kick-ass sax quintets, playing this time... comp. 173. blessed be :))  ]

sunday 20th jan

1. ivo perelman and jay rosen, the hammer, trs. 1-3
- apart from having one of the most unappealing, most targeted-bargain-bin-seeking covers i have ever seen on a music album, this one is pretty good - at least that's how i remembered it from a couple of years back. i do like jay rosen, who is not particularly well known (except to collectors of the CIMP label - he is practically the house drummer there, or was at least a few years ago) and is not to be confused with longtime (now) braxton adept jay rozen, tubist and euphonium player of distinction; rosen-drummer is one of relatively few hard-bitten modern sticksmen from over "this" side who can make me think for half a second that i'm listening to a drummer from "that" side, i.e. extreme metal, so i always think fondly of him. (chris corsano is another one. not too many other names on that list though.) i haven't played this in a while, though - atanase had recommended it to me back in the day, i even held off ripping his copy so i could pick it up next time leo's had a sale..! and i did enjoy it, i did think it worked better than the trio with dominic duval (speaking of CIMP's house pool!), and when i put it on the other day, i really didn't remember it very well. starting almost from scratch, then.

considering its title, the hammer is not by any means flat-out assault and battery, and some of the music may even veer too far (for my liking) the other way, but the first three cuts sound pretty good today and they bring to mind one thing in particular, with stark clarity: the fundamental difference between jazz and free jazz, which is for me this very ability to speak in tongues or otherwise open up dimensional shifts; perelman demonstrates this quality excellently, condensing into his modulated reed sound a whole stratification of layered intelligence, communicating very very precisely yet with great epistemic urgency and forcefulness of spirit. by the end of three tracks i feel as i'm close to speaking the highly educated language in which he is addressing me (*4) ; oops, then the beginning of the fourth cut strays over the line towards (what felt suspiciously like) latin sentimentality, and i bailed, this most definitely not being what the doctor ordered. no, instead i fled towards known safe refuge:

2. victoriaville 1992, trs 1-2

- first two tracks, he says blithely, as if this entailed no more than ten minutes if music (which in the case of this group would be a very long ten minutes anyway); nope, this was more than half an hour of proper, intensive, collaged braxmusick and with me in receptive state, this had quite a bewitching effect on me at times. (in and out of the room, but frequently pulled back in by the music...)

- besides, this is my new best friend comp. 159 kicking things off, which is just home from home right now considering where this post began; this time it's another year later, sixteen months later actually, and the music is being folded back in on itself at a faster rate still, then. crispell, as so often, has recourse to comp. 30 and - well, actually you have me at a slight disadvantage there, because for all its ubiquity in the post-collage phase of opening-up-the-book, i would struggle to identify comp. 147 straight away i think. ok, so it was played at ulrichsberg, the soothing come-down after the franctic, unnerving comp. 169 on that occasion; but back here in canada i wasn't paying close enough attention today to try and unpick exactly who is playing what and when; i did feel immeasurably more "upheld" for spending so much time in the band's company, today. the second piece is not particularly recognised by me at all (comp. 148? restructures only lists it this once) but it still feels great to live inside. i was (semi-)deliberately avoiding any detailed analysis today though; indeed, after saturday's longer-than-expected afternoon session, i am under orders to sort the kitchen out today and have the music cranked in the next room... this works just fine, the music frequently engaging me, like i say, as it churns and progresses... until a bass-solo-including-silence takes over, which i then discover is the beginning of the next cut anyway; good time to switch as now, of course, i can't hear what's going on at all, have totally lost the thread and feel of the music.

3. splatter trio and debris (with guests), jump or die, etc, trs 1-2, 4-5 only

- jeez-damn, this is rather good isn't it. have i ever mentioned that?! it's just heart-warmingly, eye-poppingly magnificent to hear how these guys pushed and pushed themselves to co-create some really vibrantly alive,  utterly serious interpretations of the maestro's works, and not necessarily the well-known (ahem) ones either. ok, so i miss out comp. 23d (+108a) today; this is only 'cos time is at a premium, and i heard it the day before already. that leaves a bunch more obscure-ish stuff, for the most part, and don't it just sound fucking great. luckily the back of the kitchen chore has been broken by now, since not much gets done from here on in, too busy marvelling at the richly diverse and totally fresh, unexpected sounds which keep issuing forth from those speakers. boys: over twenty-one years into the past, i declare, well done to you all!! extraordinary stuff - and did any of you actually think "i can die happy now"? ;-)

for all that enthusiasm, i (again) retain very little from this four pieces, beyond (rather appropriately) visual impressions of outlandish landscapes (comps. 48 & 142); the collage of comps. 50 + 53 seems (alas) to have wiped its own feet with great care on leaving my ears because it's gone, gone... and the first cut - the unwieldy-looking but wonderfully-executed monster that is comp. 40e (+40d)/comp. 40p (+69q)/comp. 40(o) (which is how i would list it myself, i think) is familiar to me already, having been devoured on numerous occasions. here it's an indulgence which costs me possibly two pieces at the end, but once again - when the girls do arrive back, four-year old daughter expresses pleasure and interest in the music, and is well chuffed to guess correctly when i ask her whose music is being played :)

phew ... breather for at least a few days i think - ! no, i haven't even touched on the meta-diary materials (i.e. the music i have been playing while i typed all the posts up over the last few days... music which includes playlist 2 and more willisau, as well as more zooid (boom!) and - haha, no, i'm outta here, eleven posts in one month indeed, i ask you...) and i'm not going to. suffice it to say: ears are ringing, ears are ring-ing (*5) with wondrous sound. me, for time being, gone {{{@@@}}}

* see comments


centrifuge said...

1. actually there was a reason for that: when i was combing the discog on allmusic guide for a change (i.e. instead of on restructures), i came across something which was probably just a wrong entry, no proper details etc but *did* have a tracklist featuring comp. 159... a web search on "braxton comp. 159", in the end, still never resolved this one (the piece is not included on the duets album with petter niklas wilson, which otherwise comprises - for the most part - opus numbers from the 15x range) but it DID lead me to a web site from which you can either download one free mp3 per day, or pay a monthly fee to download yadda-yadda-yadda, which is how i have found myself re-acquiring the willisau files (years after allowing mcc's to vanish off my old hard drive) one at a time, on the days when i have
remembered to do it... mmm... and which is why comp. 159 ended up being the one most listened to on that album - ! did i mention this album fuckin ROCKS, *dude* :-D

2. guitarist kevin "one l" o'neil is always good practice for me... having to type his name at any rate. one of my all-time favourite comics artists is ex-2000ad lunatic kevin "two lls" o'neill

3. shorter "versions" (= extracts from) of comp. 173 abound. as i mentioned in the article, there's another on the way - although that's actually due to be another long version come to think of it. wonder of there will be vocals on that? (surely not..?)

4. this is really the way it comes across - and, yes, in that regard it does indeed trace its roots directly back to the earliest pre-jazz days of singing horns, etc... many anecdotes abound of how free jazz blowers have opened up portals in open and prepared minds, one of which i recall particularly clearly: it was told by composer richard barrett (under his old nom-de-plume) on the bbc r3 messagebored, back in the day, and recounted an experience at a charles gayle gig whn he suddenly found himself hearing gayle as if speaking in a hundred different languages at once, all of which he, the listener, could speak and comprehend; admittedly not everyone will have breakthroughs of insight on that scale - !

many free players, or those associated with that background, have developed similar techniques - and of course let's never forget that the twin giants of this (in america at least) are albert ayler and john coltrane, especially the former when it comes to "holy speech" of course; two distortion black-belts who have (on repeated occasions) struck me as speaking in several different languages at once, each capable of carrying a layer of epistemic detail and sophistication, are oliver lake and frank lowe (him again); john zorn, who studied with lake then was launched onto the music scene from under lowe's wing, is able to achieve similar feats in his (solo/duo) free-creative work (... &c &c, so much more could be written on this... and one day it will - !)

5. that's a mr bungle reference, for all those out there who wouldn't get it. lot of bungle haters in the world, for some reason - i gather this has more to do with their fans, though i wouldn't really know why, and it's a shame since i consider myself to be very much an admirer of their music... that first album is (still) a desert-island favourite for me... so there..!

centrifuge said...

haha, yeah, i've just taken stock of the fact that january 2013 is offically my most prolfic month since... october 2007, i.e. the blog's inception. hmmm... rebirth :)))