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Live Reviews

Kristin Korb / Cosmologic with Anthony Davis at Conrad Prebys Recital Hall in San Diego

By Published: February 9, 2011
Of course, in a band where the compositions and front line are as daring as Cosmologic—nothing would work at all without an equally sterling rhythm section. Scott Walton on the double-bass has all the qualities necessary for this music: he has a huge, woody tone, he can play time, ostinatos, or arco with solid dexterity. Oftentimes, he's playing the melody while the others fly above it. Drummer Nathan Hubbard must be seen to be believed. He is a constant blur of percussive motion—but never in an overpowering way. Much of what he plays is very subtle in terms of dynamics. He writes a lot of the material for the ensemble, so there is a composer's aesthetic to his contributions. He can go from a Sunny Murray
Sunny Murray
Sunny Murray
b.1937
drums
to a Paul Motian
Paul Motian
Paul Motian
1931 - 2011
drums
kind of vibe in a heartbeat.

Cosmologic's set began with an untitled piece by trombonist Dessen. Robinson began stating the long, angular melody, while Dessen posited increasingly aggressive 'bone interjections. When they finally reached the end of the first chorus, the roles reversed. Robinson's solo began with a furious Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
(a la East Broadway Rundown (Impulse, 1966) beginning, quickly yielding to several moments of raspy multi-phonics, about then, the trombone restated the melody against and over Robinson's orgiastic screaming. Dessen's blustery solo followed, filled with both inherent logic and wild abandon.

At this point, the band introduced Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis
b.1951
piano
, who sat in on piano for the next two pieces. Davis is a fantastic pianist who is also lauded as a composer of both extended jazz and "new music" works as well as several critically acclaimed operas. Davis has been a vital member of the UCSD music department for many years now, and the members of Cosmologic all acknowledged his heavy influence on their own music.

Next up was Robinson's original, "Vicissitudes" which was dedicated to another UCSD mentor, the late bassist Mel Graves. Anthony Davis fit perfectly into the Cosmologic dynamic, whipping out long strands of increasingly chromatic repetitions, drawing the band into similar territory as Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
b.1929
piano
's milestone recording: Conquistador (Blue Note, 1966). Hubbard's playing was insistently inventive, drawing a tiny bow across the very edge of cymbals, and producing explosive rim shots from all over his kit. The trombone and saxophone brayed and moaned, and all to soon, "Vicissitudes" was over.

The evening came to a close with the Nathan Hubbard original, "Clarity Of Thought." This piece was a total show-stopper. There were short, pointed and frenetic solos from the piano, tenor and trombone, meanwhile bassist Walton pumped up the proceedings with wild strumming, double stops and forceful pizzicato alchemy. All of this wound up to a furious climax, then one could hear a pin drop as Hubbard brought the house down with an incredulously inventive drum solo. He utilized the whole of his kit, rattling off asymmetrical rolls—then, he began dragging what appeared to be super balls mounted on flexible sticks across the head of his tom-toms, producing a sound very much like the double bass being bowed. It was startling, to say the least.

Despite numerous catcalls and steady applause, the evening had to end there, as the University already had a follow-up concert scheduled. With alumni as diverse and creative as Korb and Cosmologic, UCSD should have plenty of applications for admission coming in from the next generation of master musicians.

photo credit:

Anthony Cecena


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