Vox Arcana: Aerial Age (2010)
This is drummer Tim Daisy's working trio. His other work with Ken Vandermark has in recent years mapped out new territory for the always vibrant Chicago creative music scene. Daisy's compositions make up the whole program on this title and it's clear from them that his influences range from that city to schools outside of the improvised music continuum; if this implies a broad outlook then that's pretty much close to the truth for all the chamber music implications of the trio's lineup.
There's a playful quality to the opening "The Number 7" which stems from the unison of cello and clarinet. When the music gets expansive enough to accommodate a clarinet solo James Falzone is razor-sharp in his response to the opportunity. With the possible exception of John Carter no precedents for his work spring readily to mind, although it's clear that he could hold his own in more 'correct' settings; technically correct as he is though, his prowess is no obstacle to personal expression.
The formalism of the following "Blue Space" is to a degree emphasised by Daisy's marimba playing, but again the obvious precedents are happily few. Informed as the music is by the New York school of composition as exemplified by the likes of Earle Brown and Morton Feldman the players' interpretation highlights the trio's singular personality.
The odd intervals of "Chi Harp Call In E" hinting as they do at formality, are subverted by Lonberg-Holm even as he puts out a bottom line in thrall to a singular notion of time. This makes the momentum of the music haphazard but enthralling for all of the degree to which the end result is a matter of three-way discussion.
When Lonberg-Holm supplements his cello with electronics on "Winnemac" the result is as close to musique concrete as anything here, but the very disjointed quality between it and what follows reaches an extraordinary conclusion when the trio eventually coalesces. When they do it highlights how cohesive this unit is, although when the piece concludes as it began the impression is highly enigmatic, as if what has been heard is but a small extract from some far more imposing endeavour.
In covering the ground that it does this trio emphasises in a way far more profound than the mere covering of, say, Joni Mitchell songs how creative improvised music has always drawn from a diversity of wells. The curiosity this implies deserves loud applause.
Track Listing: The Number 7; Blue Space; The Silver Fence; Chi Harp Call In E; Winnemac; White Lines; Chaos 1; Falling.
Personnel: James Falzone: clarinet; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello, electronics; Tim Daisy: percussion, marimba.
Record Label: Allos Documents