Basoons: EA Silence; Patrick Bebelaar/Joe Fonda/Mike Rabinowitz; Katherine Young & Daniel Smith


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EA Silence

Cono di Ombra e Luce



Patrick Bebelaar/Joe Fonda/Mike Rabinowitz

The Four O'Clock Session



Katherine Young

Further Secret Origins



Daniel Smith

Blue Bassoon



Illinois Jacquet and Yusef Lateef have played and recorded on bassoon—that cantankerous double-reed beast—with swing and conviction. How's the current crop? Not bad in ensembles, not so hot out front.

Stark, pure tones, often in chorale or unison, mark the work of Italian wind trio EA Silence. Low-key and meditative, Cono di Ombra e Luce resonates, warmly recorded in Ivrea's old stone synagogue. These classically trained cats intone mostly somnolent set pieces: stiff, arch, through-composed, with subtly atmospheric electronic rumblings. The band also channels proto-renaissance fanfares ("Assenza") and ECM-cool Nordic brass, adding light lacings of breath and percussive filigree. Alessio Pisani shows his woody, dry bassoon best when hustling excitedly on "Avvio" or improvising blue cadenzas on "ExMod2."

Mike Rabinowitz fares better, subsuming bassoon discreetly into the fabric of a mellow improvisatory trio on The Four O'Clock Session. He limns melody with pianist Patrick Bebelaar ("Remember Prakash"), drones unison lines with Joe Fonda's bowed bass ("Keep Holding") or leaps about from treble lead to running gruff counterlines ("Scheherazade's Dream"). On his rare steps into full limelight, he opens a quiet "Discussion" then rebuts some arguments; his tart, adenoidal solo leads "Stop Talking"; he skitters along with rakish piano on his own boppy "Now."

Bovine drones and didjeridoo mooings over flat, muffled pulses (pad bounce amped with reverb mimics tribal frame-drums) make Katherine Young's solo debut Further Secret Origins not quite head-bangingly monotonous. Primal blasts, breathy twitters and multiphonic subtexts (evoking, perhaps, wisps of whale song) aqua-tint her drab, minimalist canvas. Unfurling not a single 'line' or melody over 45 minutes, she's searching beyond the ordinary. Semi-straight overdubbed chorale (2' near the end) is her curt nod to 'traditional' bassoon music. Before one blurts 'c'mon, girl, loosen up' one might listen again for textural minutiae, explorations of primeval ritual.

Daniel Smith continues his agonizing, probably unattainable, crossover quest for jazz cred on Blue Bassoon. Smith owns unassailable classical pedigree on the notoriously difficult instrument, but has yet to exhibit much progress jazz-wise. Backed by an enthusiastic, capable trio—the most typical jazz group reviewed here (with brief cameos by guitarist Larry Campbell)—Smith butchers or blisters a baker's dozen blue-jazz and bop anthems. Attack and articulation on melody lines is limp and sluggish; he stumbles through solos, both in pitch and note-choice; frenetic fours stutter disastrously. His effort's in earnest, but his transition is painful and the outcome excruciating.

Tracks and Personnel

Cono di Ombra e Luce

Tracks: After Machines; Medusa; Nuovi Topi ad Ur; Jaquar e Aimee; Avvio; Assenza; ExMod2; Si Chinera al Vento.

Personnel: Alessio Pisani: bassoon, contra-bassoon; Luca Cartolari: electronics, electric bass; Mirio Cosottini: trumpet, flugelhorn, slide trumpet.

The Four O'Clock Session

Tracks: Approach; Discussion; Remember Prakash; Keep Holding; Short Bop; Scheherazade's Dream; Stop Talking; Now; Natuschka's Song.

Personnel: Patrick Bebelaar: piano; Joe Fonda: bass; Mike Rabinowitz: bassoon.

Further Secret Origins

Tracks: Terra Incognita; Patricia Highsmith; Elevation; For Autonauts, for Travelers; Relief; Some People Say That She Doesn't Exist; Orbis Tertius.

Personnel: Katherine Young: bassoon.

Blue Bassoon

Tracks: The Jody Grind; Billie's Bounce; Things Ain't What They Used To Be; Scotch and Water; My Baby's Gone; Sack Of Woe; Nostalgi In Times Square; Equinox; The Double Up; From Four Til Late; Break Out The Blues; Footprints; Solid.

Personnel: Daniel Smith: bassoon; Martin Berejano: piano; Edward Perez: bass; Ludwig Afonso: drums; Larry Campbell: guitar.


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