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From the Inside Out

Summer Vacation

By Published: October 1, 2003

Trio S (Zitherine)
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Trio S employ unusual trio configurations and recording techniques to create a unique jazz trio sound. Kenny Wollesen plays drums, Jane Scarpantoni plays cello, and leader Doug Wieselman plays clarinet, guitar, and loops on an eponymous debut that combines composed music and improvised music with looped music.

“Most of the pieces here come from perceived melodies from water sources; oceans, rivers, and streams,” writes Wieselman in the liner notes. “The phenomenon is barely audible but can be heard under the right circumstances – sounding something like a robust chorus singing a simple diatonic melody in unison.” Even the album artwork is the reproduction of a watercolor painting.

It should be noted that although Wolleson, Scarpantoni and Wieselman sounds like a law firm, in fact each of these musicians brings an accomplished resume to the collective, having played in just about every musical setting from the Lounge Lizards to Tricky, from Sex Mob to Patti Smith, with Wayne Horvitz, Tom Waits, John Zorn, and more. If any trio can figure out a way to record in watercolors, it’s this one.

As you can imagine from their inspiration, chapters in this evocative travelogue are fluid and the differences between them subtle. There is something very somber if not menacing about the sonorities of cello together with the clarinet, like the sound of bagpipes groaning in a graveyard, especially when accompanied by the rumbling echo of traditional drums in “Majorca,” which paints a watercolor portrait of the beach on this Mediterranean isle. In “Coda,” the clarinet dances atop a repeated cello figure that serves as bass line, while gentle whispers of percussion and guitar provide counterpoint.

The eight-movement “Anthony’s River” comes from a dream Wieselman had about composer and friend Anthony Coleman. Its second movement orchestrates a haunting dance between guitar and drums; the “Lullaby” movement submerges deep into the emotional resonance of flamenco guitar before the ripples calm into a reflecting pool; then the “Russian” movement erupts from the murky waters like a mazurka in a passing military parade (this movement is recorded at a louder volume than the rest, so it really jumps out at the listener).

Traveler ‘03: The Year’s Best in Global Grooves (Six Degrees)
“The Six Degrees Travel Series is dedicated to bringing you the best in traditional and contemporary musical excursions from around the world,” read the notes to the label’s third annual overview of world electronic music. “We are particularly interested in genre-bending hybrids that include a variety of musical styles as well as a mix of the ancient and the modern.”

‘03 documents the cutting edge of ethnic electronic music from such label favorites as MIDIval PunditZ, a techno production team from New Delhi which gives strong props to traditional Indian instrumentation and ragas, Karsh Kale, an expert at traditional Indian instruments and vocals and also a turntable-scratchin’, tape-loopin’ DJ, and even a track by Qwii Music Arts’ Trust Khoi San Music (which consists of bushmen of the Kalahari desert), all sculpted anew by cutting edge remix producers.

Bobi Céspedes’ “Rezos” demonstrates the compilation’s credo, as what sounds like chants from an ancient liturgy lead into and then fold back upon a rock steady, taffy-thick modern dub beat. So does the PunditZ’ “Dark Escape,” which builds upon traditional Indian tabla to club out a thumping modern beat. The description of Bob Holroyd’s “Rafiki” as the “Rise Ashen Future-Tribal Mix” is also quite telling, as it combines traditional tribal chants in rhythm with twittering electronica, roiling drumrolls and bass figures. “Stiff Jazz” by dZihan & Kamien mixes jazz, Latin, and Middle Eastern music with electronic beats; Rodney Hunter & Richard Dorfmeister remix it into a techno-tribal landscape pierced by a rhythm guitar hook that comes in sharp on the right beat but then sort of just hangs in the air and drifts away in a wonderful technique of production.

“Izgrala” by Lumin features the unmistakable voice of Irina Mikhailova from Kazakhstan on a piece that combines Eastern European vocal tradition with traditional Middle Eastern music and modern electronica. The emotional weight behind the Middle Eastern strings and percussion seem made even more powerfully emotive by the mechanistic backdrop and Mikhailova’s voice, especially when multi-tracked and harmonizing with herself in lower keys instead of higher (like Madonna), is quite beautiful.

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