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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.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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