All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

136

Edmund Welles: Agrippa's 3 Books

Andrey Henkin By
Published:
Sign in to view read count
Edmund Welles: Agrippa's 3 Books After having been rescued from the back rows of the orchestra by '60s jazz, the bass clarinet has found many homes. Today the instrument is no longer rare, but it has become the province almost solely of the less composed spheres of the genre. That's a shame, really, because the bass clarinet can be one of the most expressive instruments around, pleasing yet subversive with a remarkable tonal range in the right hands. Edmund Welles, a San Francisco-based bass clarinet quartet, has created a symphonic repertoire that mixes the best elements of chamber music, jazz, heavy metal, and "religious music.

The group, led by composer Cornelius Boots, must have quite a following, evidenced by the remarkable turnout at a late August performance at The Stone. There the group played material from Agrippa's 3 Books, as well as some older original material and covers. The album is a four-part suite (not including pre- and postlude) inspired by the 16th Century philosophical treatises of the German intellectual. The music is simply remarkable. Boots has the ability to write compelling melodies and mix them with fascinating counterpoints, all while fully utilizing every black laquered inch of the instrument. Stylistically, the pieces owe more to the realm of Black Sabbath than Eric Dolphy, but they're still firmly based in the new music tradition.

The rest of the album is filled out by covers—Sabbath, Sepultura, Spinal Tap—which somewhat diffuse the seriousness of what preceded them. On album, they come at the end as a respite. In performance, they came first, acting as an initiation before the more difficult works. And difficult they are. Never before has the instrument been written for so well and most listeners might not be prepared for so much of this sound. And with a remarkable recording, no detail is missed. A stunning document.


Track Listing: Prelude: The Conspiracy Manifests; I. Cause & Effect; II. The Black Lodge; III. Corso v. Torchia; IIII. Asmodeus: The Destroyer, King of the Demons; Postlude: Aphel, die schwarze Schlange; Into the Void; Roots Bloody Roots; Big Bottom.

Personnel: Aaron Novik, Scott Hill, Sheldon Brown, Cornelius Boots: bass clarinets.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Beyond Jazz


Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
[no cover]
Tooth & Claw
UBM Records
2007
buy
[no cover]
The Tooth & Claw...
UBM Records
2007
buy
Agrippa's 3 Books
Agrippa's 3 Books
Self Produced
2005
buy

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.