Ergo: Multitude, Solitude (2010)
During the past two decades, electronic music has solidified its initial uneasy alliance with acoustic jazz. Newer releases such as Ergo's Multitude, Solitude are able to get past that original awkward balance and meld electronics with jazz improvisation and instrumental technique. The result is a trio that interacts like one but also accesses the broader sound palette and ambience that electronics allow.
On most tunes, trombonist Brett Sroka remains at the music's center and in only rare instances plays over the electronics. This ability to interact in a "jazzy" manner is not only due to Sroka's comfort level with the format but to drummer Shawn Baltazor, who adds coloration along with a coordinating rhythm. Carl Maguire likewise uses Rhodes, synth and electronics to both color and lead on these six originals.
While Ergo doesn't swing in the traditional sense, structure, melody, instrumental interaction and, of course, mood are at the core of their approach. The overall sense, however, can be a bit ominous and foreboding. Opener "Rana Sylvatica" presages this with its dark hues, crashing cymbals and fleeting electronic notes, giving the impression of being transported into a void. "Vessel" is exactly that, Sroka stating and restating gracefully mournful trombone lines that seem to hang in space forever before he literally converses with his inner voice on the delicately powerful remembrance "She Haunts Me." "Little Shadow" makes more direct use of the trombone's narrative capabilities as a delicate story is told against a carillon backdrop. And the pseudo title cut uses keyboards to demarcate musical sections with an insistent rhythm inciting Sroka to reach upward. "Actuator" closes things out with a bit of space funk as Ergo leaps past electronic/acoustic animosity for a winning trio session.
Track Listing: Rana Sylvatica; Vessel; She Haunts Me; Little Shadow; Endlessly (Multitude, Solitude); Actuator.
Personnel: Brett Sroka: trombone, computer; Carl Maguire: electronic piano, synthesizer, electronic effects; Shawn Baltazor: drums.