Cooper-Moore & Assif Tsahar: Tells Untold; Assif Tsahar: Fragments

Jeff Stockton By

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Cooper-Moore & Assif Tsahar
Tells Untold

Cooper-Moore doesn't limit himself to the usual range of instruments. When he hears a sound in his head, he invents a device to reproduce it, surrounding himself with a mysterious aura, a shamanistic charisma that creates the sense that he's tapped into a separate world of undiscovered sound. Who can tell what he's playing at any given moment? He's a one man band. But the music on Tells Untold is made by two men: Cooper-Moore's involving rhythms from an assortment of homemade stringed instruments and percussion and Assif Tsahar's lovely melodies from bass clarinet, tenor and guitar. The last time these two got together (America, 2003), the music had a sense of urgency and tension that's been massaged away for much of this session. They use the studio's tools to layer the instrumentation with overdubs so that two players sound like six and add electronic effects that expands the tonal palette, most startlingly on "Deviations , a track that could be the work of a Spanish-guitar playing turntablist.

Assif Tsahar/New York Underground Orchestra

Assif Tsahar explores an entirely different side of his art on Fragments, the second recording by his self-conducted, string-dominated Underground Orchestra. Tsahar's previous large band projects have come from the brass/reeds-centric Brass Reeds Ensemble and Zoanthropic Orchestra and, in this case, the leader's tenor is missed. Not just fragments but fragmentary, the relatively short 16 pieces of this whole sound like incomplete ideas, with long middles and no ends. Paranoid violin scratching, slow string pulls, repeated motifs and sustained notes that build in intensity then recede are occasionally interrupted by violent cacophonous orchestral blasts, which all add up to an unnerving emotional and psychological experience, as if Schoenberg were to score Hitchcock. Only on "Sixth , a brief Charles Waters clarinet feature and "Seventh , with its gypsy fiddle and cello flourishes, does Fragments approach the inviting organic warmth of Tsahar's collaborations with Cooper-Moore.

Tells Untold

Tracks: The Eight; Tribes Gathering; Oracles; The Hunt; Tells Untold; Deviations; Forlorn; Another World Another Time; The Procession

Personnel: Cooper-Moore: harp, ashimba, drums, flute, deedly-bo, mouth-bow, synth & the bell; Assif Tsahar: tenor sax, bass clarinet, acoustic guitar, muzmar, thumb piano.


Tracks: First - Sixteenth

Personnel: Philippa Thompson, Leanne Darling, Jana Andevska: violin; Lev Zhurbin, Jessica Pavone: viola; Loren Dempster, Gil Selinger, Audrey Chen: cello; Terence Murren, Todd Nicholson: bass; Nate Wooley, Sam Hoyt: trumpet; Charles Waters: clarinets; Natacha Diels, Leah Paul, Jecca Barry: flute; Christopher Meeder: tuba; Mary Halvorson: guitar; Tatsuya Nakatani: percussion

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