Double bassist Max Johnson's new suite The Prisoner is inspired by the futuristic British cult TV series from the end of the sixties by the same name. This series was a source of inspiration for many artists, among them The Clash, Iron Maiden, and avant-garde sound artist David Shea. New York-based Johnson assembled a quartet of like-minded improviserstenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, viola player Mat Maneri, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, all in powerful performancesfor an updated sonic meditation on the themes of the series. The seven pieces refer to characters in the series, all called by numbers, and situations from the series episodes.
The chamber, melancholic spirit of the music and its loose interplay charge it with the claustrophobic, mysterious feeling of the original series. Though the pieces are composed and Johnson stressed a thematic progression, there is a lot of freedom for each musician to push its own course. This kind of openness colors the music in conflictual dynamics, emphasizes the tension and the stress of being monitored by an enveloping surveillance and the loneliness among the conforming population of the isolated village-prison portrayed in the original series.
"No.24 Hammer into Anvil" is one of the best realized pieces. It refers to one of the most violent episodes and alternates between spare, threatening free-form texture where all are busy shaping their own loosely connected sounds and nervous, brutal sonic attacks. All forms and each musician with their distinct voices mirror and intensify the emotional uncertainty and troubled atmosphere of the episode. Other pieces as "The New Number 2," and as the series itself, offer an unsettling, enigmatic emotional impact. This open- ended piece leaves the listener contemplating about its mixed messages.
Arresting, multi-layered suite that demands repeated listening.
Track Listing: No.6 Arrival / No.58 Orange Alert; X04; No.12 Schitzoid Man (Gemini);
No.24 Hammer into Anvil; No.48 Living in Harmony; The New Number 2; No.2
Once Upon a Time / No.1 Fallout.
Personnel: Ingrid Laubrock: tenor sax; Mat Maneri: viola; Max Johnson: double bass;
Tomas Fujiwara: drums.
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand. Their massive record collection, my parents taking me to concerts and clubs (only one of five kids to do so), the Magnavox furniture stereo/radio ... it all added up. It was complex, emotional music. And it had rhythm! I drummed and followed the music through the '60s even as I enjoyed the new musics of my generation.
Along with side-trips to other musicians and music, it's been one hell of a pony ride ever since.