A couple of months ago, I reviewed Luciano Berio's complete Sequenzas
on Deutsche Gramophone (part of DG's 21st Century Series). I noted there to be a valid comparison between certain Jazz genres (Free Jazz and Avant-garde) and Postmodern Classical Music. David Sherr and his Art Music Ensemble blur the line further with Look Both Ways
, a survey of selected Berio Sequenzas coupled with Sherr compositions inspired by them.
Sherr opens this disc with Berio's Sequenza for Flute, composed in 1958. He plays in that necessary and angular manner demanded by the piece. Sherr then boldly couples his Postmodern vision with that of Berio on his "Debussy" pieces, the first a wonderfully strange conversation between the vibraphone and violin, the second, a Jimmy Guiffre-sound piece from Guiffre's Free Fall days.
"Sax Lines" is a straight-ahead jazz piece, with some of the most precise cymbal work I have heard recently. Sherr's saxophone is tart but warm and his ideas thoughtful. His treatments of the Sequenzas for Oboe and Clarinet are as revealing as the one for flute. Sherr and the band elaborate on the former very effectively, producing a stunning soundscape. The disc closes with "In the Pocketa Pocketa", a blues with some very fancy muted trumpet playing by Brian Swartz.
Overall, this is a very texture-driven recording with many hidden corners and treasures. Recommended for the Postmodern or the not so Postmodern among us.
Personnel: David Sherr: Reeds, Flute; Shelley Berg: Piano; Cynthia Fogg: Violin; Scott Higgins: Percussion; Joe LaBarbera: Drums; Harvey Newmark: Bass; Brian Swartz: Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Amy Wilkins: Harp.