2

Peter Sprague String Consort: Dr. Einstein's Spin

Robert Bush By

Sign in to view read count
Peter Sprague String Consort: Dr. Einstein's Spin 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).

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: SBE records


Shop

More Articles

Read Petite Afrique CD/LP/Track Review Petite Afrique
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite CD/LP/Track Review Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 29, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Soul Garden CD/LP/Track Review Soul Garden
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 29, 2017
Read The Authorized Bang Collection CD/LP/Track Review The Authorized Bang Collection
by Doug Collette
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Cross My Palm With Silver CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "Steelonious" CD/LP/Track Review Steelonious
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "The Outlier" CD/LP/Track Review The Outlier
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "It Will Come" CD/LP/Track Review It Will Come
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "Pulsation" CD/LP/Track Review Pulsation
by Nicola Negri
Published: August 1, 2016
Read "Stereotomic" CD/LP/Track Review Stereotomic
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "South Beat" CD/LP/Track Review South Beat
by Edward Blanco
Published: September 6, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!