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Venerable British bassist and improviser, Barry Guy is the director of the New Orchestra but also serves as an enabler for the musicians' creative sparks to flourish. Other than frequent collaborator American trumpeter Herb Robertson
, this aggregation consists of largely, European avant-jazz luminaries, prefacing the agenda on a hybrid chamber-orchestral slant, suitably noted by Guy in the press release.
One of two extended works, "Amphi" commences with a gathering of the troops slant, where the respective artists enter the scene in waves via introspective and capacious dialogues. Guy composed this opus in seven parts for baroque violinist Maya Homburger, who initiates the event with intense staccato phrasings. Otherwise, the strings section and hornists enact a rambunctious gait, seeded with strings scrapings, high-pitched squeaks and asymmetrical percussion activities, settling into a loose groove panorama amid transecting call and response mechanisms and mischievous banter. Here, the musicians also amalgamate sparkling textures and brash unison choruses, abetted by Guy's prolific lines and pianist Agusti Fernandez' rhythmic accents.
The second piece "Radio Rondo," features a myriad of jagged exchanges with brazen sax and strings parts, entrenched in the red zone, as the soloists concoct and interlace sub-motifs in alternating fashion. With free-form explosions, Fernandez often accents and helps accelerate various patterns and movements as he slings chords across the 88's and inserts maddening clusters into the mix. Yet both of these pieces are fabricated with oscillating outbreaks of expansion. For example, "Radio Rondo," includes segments where the orchestra ascends with a spiraling impetus, focused on variances in pitch, but they also come back down to earth and refocus on the next conquest. Towards the finale, often brimming with catastrophic breakdowns, Guy turns the tide with fervent plucking atop subdued horns, straddling a broad plane. Essentially, he navigates the ship through turbulent waters, catapulting the orchestra into a rumbling closeout. It's an all hands on deck milieu and the gratifying outcomes do not fall short of what many of us would anticipate from this influential artist.
Track Listing: Amphi; Radio Rondo.
Personnel: Barry Guy: bass, director; Agustí Fernández: piano; Maya Homburger:
Baroque violin on «Amphi»; Evan Parker: saxophone; Jürg Wickihalder:
saxophone; Mats Gustafsson: saxophone, fluteophone; Hans Koch: bass
clarinet; Herb Robertson: trumpet; Johannes Bauer: trombone; Per Åke
Holmlander: tuba; Paul Lytton: percussion; Raymond Strid: percussion.