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The MacroQuarktet: Each Part a Whole: Live at the Stone

Glenn Astarita By

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The MacroQuarktet features a crème de la crème of New York's progressive jazz and improvisational contingent, although the respective instrumentalists know no bounds due to variable stints with like-minded artists across the globe. Recorded live at the Manhattan venue The Stone, the quartet—or, wittily cited as the Quarktet—casts an impressionistic aura into the rather expansive connotations of jazz-centric improvisation on Each Part a Whole. The musicians subdivide the performance into three extended works, teeming with polytonal resonance amid a surprising degree of contrasts, sans any keys or woodwinds. Simply stated, the band maintains a lean and mean style of attack.

Trumpeter Herb Robertson's patented employment of multiphonics, gravelly phrasings and rocketing lines complement fellow trumpeter Dave Ballou's robust implementations, as they link with the rhythm section's rolling flows and asymmetrical pulses. Bold, brassy and irrefutably dense and layered, the program instills an abundance of emotive attributes via the artists' dark shadings and bustling maneuvers. The musicians seem to query one another for on-the-fly shifts in momentum, with bassist Drew Gress' arco driven background treatments or drummer Tom Rainey's accelerating beats.

The soloists engage in nip-and-tuck-type dialogues to complement several movements that are designed with chatty discourses. Yet they occasionally walk on water, when tempering a given theme. And the quartet ups the ante, where lyrically-charged motifs segue into extended, microtonal note discourses and scrappy off-kilter bursts of energy. No two pieces are distinctly alike throughout this oscillating musical trek.

On "Part 5" of "Ducks and Geese Or Rabbits?," the horn players execute gruff, low-key notes, where notions of creaky chambers come to mind; however, they see light at the end of the tunnel, while segueing into a peppery improv jaunt. Here, and elsewhere, the quartet spawns a budding set of undercurrents, founded on divergent velocities and angular rhythmic maneuvers. It's a mind-bending yet irrefutably entertaining sojourn into existentially coated musical directions.

The MacroQuarktet offers clues and intimations for the neural network and psyche, conjuring up lucid imagery that yields the plentiful fruit of Each Part a Whole.


Track Listing: Neuroplasticity (Parts 1-2-3); Ducks and Geese Or Rabbits (Parts 4-5-6-7); Basal D. Ganglia (Parts 8-9-10).

Personnel: Herb Robertson: trumpet, cornet, electric megaphone, mutes & attachments; Dave Ballou: trumpet, piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn, plastic hose, mutes; Drew Gress: acoustic bass, fan; Tom Rainey: drums and cymbals.

Title: Each Part a Whole: Live at the Stone | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Ruby Flower Records

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