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I bought 'Ha' for two reasons:
1. I already liked Humcrush
2. John Kelman's remark that Sidsel Endresen is equally at home with
For whatever reason, I'm not a great fan of the human voice. The dulcet tones of David Sylvian on Arve Henriksen's otherwise pleasing enough 'Cartography' seem, for instance, to be wired up to my gag reflex.
You'll be relieved to know that there are some exceptions:
Lady Day (of course).
But until I heard 'Ha' and thereby Endresen for the first time I'd have been pushed to lengthen the list. People wonder: how you can you NOT like the human voice? Well, it's not illegal. And most of those who ask me don't much like Norma Winstone. How can you NOT, I reply. We get nowhere.
As for so-called 'electronica' it strikes me as a crying shame that no-end of over-produced disc-jockeying can be brought within comparative range of the legendary Arne Nordheim by the conniving means of a solitary word. Well, at least it's a trans-cultural word, the same people tell me. I grind my teeth.
It's axiomatic (in case anyone was interested) in contemporary philosophy of language that there's a strategically significant gap between, on the one hand, the thoughts a subject has and, on the other, the words/phrases that the subject uses to express those same thoughts.
Once a sentence has been uttered then any ambiguity (indeterminacy) in content is to be settled by the linguistic community for whose consumption the sentence is intended.
Now, for what it's worth I've devoted disproportionate time and resources to arguing that this must be false.
If you're inclined to rush ahead and think that Song provides a telling counter-example, save your energy: in song words/phrases are <mentioned>, not <used> in the philosopher's technical sense that applies here. (I promise that this all ties into 'Ha'.)
One potentially fertile source of counter-example to the axiom is provided by the creative sound-cum-linguistic phenomena associated with such mental disorders as autism and schizophrenia. And as soon as I heard the remarkable creative sounds produced here by Sidsel Endresen, I asked myself whether her work is informed by exposure to (or knowledge of) this source.
In saying this I want to avoid doing two things. Firstly, I want to avoid demeaning Endresen. Secondly, I want to avoid demeaning those affected by mental disorder/illness.
Endresen shares with Winstone and O'Day an approach which makes the voice an instrument. People tell me that all singers do this. I grind my teeth.
There is a vivid sense here of a stream of consciousness. Tristano had linked performance to the accessing of one's 'id'. (People tell me I can't review a CD without mentioning Tristano. I nod in agreement.)
Sorry, I sent this too soon and then upset the cyber-guys when I tried to send the concluding remarks. I then duly lost my text. Will try again soon.
Endresen's rapport with Humcrush is astonishing. No de-stabilising effect and yet Strønen and Storløkken sound unaltered (compare with 'Rest of the World'). So, to my ears, it's the singer who accommodates to Humcrush. John Kelman, above, speaks of how difficult this is (especially the spontaneous, creative give-and-take of live performance).
If 'Ha' is electronica, so be it. But it is in the finest tradition of Nordheim the pioneer. No accident, Strønen the master-percussionist is heavily influenced by Nordheim (check out the latter's superb 'The Nordheim Tapes').
Humcrush have, in the space of 2-3 discs, established themselves as a kitemark for technologically inspired music.
The quite remarkable presence of the singer, with her readiness to tap into a deep and often crystalline sound source (the instrumentalisation of the human voice) simply raises the Humcrush ethos to a higher level.
Dénouement: in the world of mental illness/disorder countless sufferers are given musical instruments and told to 'bang along' to some commercial motif (e.g. a pop tune). This, we're told is therapy. But it's often aimless control.
The Humcrush expérience is, I humbly suggest, a more profitable avenue for host of complex reasons. That's a complement in two directions. To the artists and those who are so dramatically misunderstood.
They sure do, Ralph...they sure do! :)
Hey John, don't know if you're still 'tuning in'. Recently bought Wasilewski's 'Faithful' and Battaglia's 'The River of Anyder'. Really rated both discs. (Yes, he of the "insipid piano trio" opinion!)
Happy Christmas and/or Prosperous New Year*
*Delete as appropriate.
On the off chance that you are still tuning in I got a wonderful old reconditioned Welmar upright piano for Christmas.
Any response to this post will be immediately rewarded with a genuine jazz writer's 'scoop'.
Yeah, I'm here, working away on some writing. Glad you are digging River and Faithful; wonderful records, both! :)
Congratulations on the piano! Lucky you!
OK, so now, the scoop... ??
Happy Christmas and best wishes for a happy, healthy, productive and creative 2012!
Ok, here it comes. On Warne Marsh's classic quartet album 'Ne Plus Ultra' (HAT HUT Records, rec'd Oct, 1969) there is an audible fart followed by boyish giggling. I'm sure that this must be unique in the history of recorded music. The untimely flatus occurs during the spontaneously improvised 'Touch and Go'. The incident occurs at approx 15'19" as drummer John Tirabasso winds the piece up.
To hear the culprit at work you need to have the volume fairly high.
Okay, more of a poop-a-scoop than a real journalistic find but it had me in stitches and provided a wonderful antidote to the 'too cerebral' brigade.
A man of your undoubted calibre will obviously have 'Ne Plus Ultra' in your collection ;-)
glad you're reviewing again. And Surman to boot. I have all of his stuff (including that released under Krog's name. If it's Surman I buy it. Has he left ECM?
Yes, I do believe that may well be the first and only example of a human wind instrument in recorded jazz :) Thanks, um, I think! :)
I will check it out...
Thanks re the reviewing again. Actually, that was written, as is a forthcoming SHining review, pre-Tallinn. With some liner notes and press sheets to do, along with an AAJ DeJohnette interview due to run Jan 9 and not yet finished, I'll likely not start reviewing CDs again til mid-January. It's a tough balancing act at the moment, so sorry for any delays and thanks for ongoing interest.
No, John has not "left" ECM; more likely, I believe, that this project, recorded over a couple years, was not of interest to the label, so he decided to release it on this fledgling Norwegian label. I am sure we'll see more music coming out on ECM in the future, however.
For what it's worth I'm sure Warne is the culprit, with 'pupil' Gary Foster unable to let the master get away with it. Lord knows what drummer Tirabasso made of it.
I followed the Konitz/Marsh quintet around Europe in the mid-70s (along with an ever-expanding group of followers). Those two really spoke to one another in a musical language that often defied the powers of belief. My claim to fame is that he came into the toilet at the Montmartre whilst I was scatting 'Wow'. He joined in! Sorry, but he was the greatest tenor player ever.
PS. Envy you meeting Jack DeJohnette. Awesome.
Just wanted to add that listeners new to Humcrush might want to cross-reference their work with (e.g.) Paul Bley and Tony Oxley's 'Spe-cu-lay-ting' ("In the Evenings Out There"/Bley, Peacock, Oxley & Surman; ECM 1488 517469-2. Percussionist/drummer Strønen also seems to have been influenced by Paul Motian and the inimical Ed Blackwell.
Lennie Tristano once said to his friend Motian that his 'fours' sounded like a drunk falling down the stairs'. That was an apposite complement and the young drummer took it so. As for Blackwell, has any genuine master drummer ever played with a smaller kit?
Jared C. Balogh
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