Music as a means of free expression has many votaries, but trumpeter Birgit Ulher and alto saxophonist Heddy Brubaker bring an interesting perspective to their investigation and manipulation of sound. Ulher, who has been involved with experimental music and free improvisation since 1982, seeks to enhance the sound possibilities of the trumpet. By extension she explores the relationship between sound and silence. Boubaker is no slouch either, turning a crackling imagination into amazing concepts that scuttle barriers.
Boubaker plays the alto saxophone on Axon, recorded in July 2010. He has since stopped practicing the saxophone to concentrate on analog modular synth and electric bass. This, then, becomes an opportunity to witness how he brings the saxophone into uncharted zones to find common logic and unusual permutations in seven impulsive movements with Ulher.
The impulses driven by the moment take several forms. Shape finds its essence in various semblances that rise on the wings of imagination and logic. At first the approach is more exploratory, as on "Impulse 1," which shades slivers from the trumpet, flurries of breath and squiggles that are set up both as call-and-response and entwining tonalities. Objects, knobs and feedback knock into "Impulse 2," but here as well brass is used in the transmutation of sound to take the end game into a deeper trough.
Ulher and Boubaker expand the drive as they use their instruments to greater degree along the way, letting silence be a quick messenger that divines the interlocutory passages. They do it with an ingrained sense for the odd, yet distinctive, which makes for a listen both provocative and intriguing.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.