All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

2

Peter Sprague String Consort: Dr. Einstein's Spin

Robert Bush By

Sign in to view read count
Composer/guitarist Peter Sprague isn't well-known, but there are few musicians operating at his level; he counts pianist Chick Corea, bassist Charlie Haden and fellow six-stringer Pat Metheny among his enthusiastic supporters.

One of his ongoing projects, The Peter Sprague String Consort, represents a true marriage of jazz trio with string quartet, and the ensemble is back after 2009's The Wild Blue (SBE, 2010) with Dr. Einstein's Spin, which was in part commissioned by Chamber Music America's New Jazz Works program.

Opening with the deliriously episodic "Mundaka," string pizzicatos swirl over drummer Duncan Moore's shaker pattern in 11/4. An archetypal Sprague samba melody follows, with tasteful blending of single-note lines and infinite-seeming chord inversions. Moods shift into a funk feel for the guitar solo as the strings weave in and out of focus. Bassist Bob Magnusson and cellist Lars Hoefs delve into a rich, deep exchange before violist Pam Jacobson embarks on a truly soulful journey.

The commissioned suite begins with "Molecules." On a 5/4 theme with Bartók-ian overtones, Sprague's nylon-string instrument is joined by the full ensemble's bristling intensity; the sublime integration conjures a sonic density remarkable for a chamber group. Sprague's solo is deft and daring, and Moore turns up the heat and volume as the ensemble powers toward an ecstatic vortex.

"Rainbows" is superb string writing: lush as the jungle and never saccharine, Magnusson's warm, fluid bass sets the opening vamp, with Jacobson's winding vibrato leading the way through near-impossibly rich harmonies. The strings recede for Sprague's offering, then rush back in for a short round-robin of improvised solos themselves.

"The Expanse" is where it all explodes, like a musical version of the "Big Bang." Dark, ominous voices in long dissonant intervals, with deep dialog between guitar and cello over malleted toms and shimmering cymbals, trigger an accelerando suggesting interstellar travel before Magnusson emerges alone—balancing alacrity with pure sound sculpture. The string quartet cranks it up towards a fusion caterwaul reminiscent of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, then it boils down to Sprague and Moore, wrestling in an explosive duel that takes on the characteristics of a John Coltrane/Elvin Jones exchange.

Chamber music that ripples with muscularity and the flow of real improvising, Dr. Einstein's Spin is a sublime balance of disparate elements that makes for rewarding listening.

Track Listing: Mundaka; Molecules (Dr. Einstein's Spin Movement I); Rainbows (Dr. Einstein's Spin Movement II); The Expanse (Dr. Einstein's Spin III); The End of the Internet.

Personnel: Peter Sprague: guitars; Bob Magnusson: double-bass; Duncan Moore: drums; Bridget Dolkas: violin; Jeanne Skrocki: violin; Pam Jacobson: viola; Lars Hoefs: cello; Carter Dewberry: cello (1).

Title: Dr. Einstein's Spin | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: SBE records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Music in Motian CD/LP/Track Review
Music in Motian
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Descansado - Songs For Films CD/LP/Track Review
Descansado - Songs For Films
by John Ephland
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Simbiose CD/LP/Track Review
Simbiose
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 18, 2018
Read For Lew CD/LP/Track Review
For Lew
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 18, 2018
Read "66 67" CD/LP/Track Review 66 67
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 9, 2017
Read "Walk The Walk" CD/LP/Track Review Walk The Walk
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 4, 2018
Read "Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman" CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read "Popofoni" CD/LP/Track Review Popofoni
by Duncan Heining
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "Shamat" CD/LP/Track Review Shamat
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "Light Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Light Blue
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 10, 2018