250

Spooky Actions: Early Music

Jim Santella By

Sign in to view read count
Spooky Actions: Early Music Spooky Actions may seem an unusual name for a chamber quartet that makes serious study of music and interprets these thoughts with a unique spirit. The name is derived from a comment by Albert Einstein where he noted that certain seemingly unrelated objects could nevertheless exert a powerful influence upon each other. He called these relationships "spooky actions."

Along with Early Music, Spooky Actions has issued projects interpreting Native American melodies and the music of Anton Webern.

This program interprets music from periods as early as the Second Century BC. The works of Hildegard Von Bingen (1098-1179), Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474), and Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) offer definitive examples from music history. The quartet has included Gregorian chant, Byzantine chant, and one secular piece that was found engraved on a very old tombstone.

Featuring John Gunther's melodic soprano saxophone and Bruce Arnold's lyrical guitar for the most part, the quartet's program merely interprets this early music with sincere devotion. Arnold's processed guitar shows up in places, however, lending an unusual texture to the mix. As with early vocal chants, his guitar is able to express devotional feelings intuitively. Guitar wails and moans accompany Gunther's pure melodies, bass and drums adding a strong foundation.

Monteverdi's "Canzonets" dance lightly with a gentle air. Von Bingen's music and Dufay's early work provide similar examples with the gentle refrain of flute and soprano saxophone, respectively. Arnold's guitar takes on a mellow role for these pieces as they offer soothing melodies.

Gunther's bass clarinet interprets the "Easter Sunday" ode, while his tenor saxophone lends a mysterious quality to "Gregorian Chant." For both of these pieces, Arnold uses a processed electric guitar that moves in and out of the eerie, mystic quality found in world music. Like the heart and lungs moving in and out, his guitar pulses evenly with a persistent motion that allows the four artists to come together naturally with seamless ease.

The oldest piece of music, the "Epitaph of Seiklilos," receives an interpretation that recalls the spirit the Dave Brubeck quartet injected into "Blue Rondo a la Turk." It's a pleasant jazz treatment that employs flute, guitar, bass, and drums in a circle of mesmerizing melodies and serves as the album's high point.

Elsewhere, Spooky Actions combines jazz with light chamber music that reflects the best of both worlds. Lovely melodies are dressed in rhythmic arrangements that bridge the time span of millennia.


Track Listing: De Virginibus O Nobilissima Viriditas; Vergine Bella; Canzonet 1, 2, & 3 (from 21 canzonets for 3 instruments); Gregorian Chant, Introit, Gaudeamus Omnes; Epitaph of Seikilos; Alleluya (Nativitas); Ode from the Kanon for Easter Sunday.

Personnel: Bruce Arnold- electric processed guitar; John Gunther- flute, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Kirk Driscoll- drums, percussion; Mike Richmond- bass, cello.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Muse Eek


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Beatbox Sax" CD/LP/Track Review Beatbox Sax
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 18, 2016
Read "Some Morning" CD/LP/Track Review Some Morning
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: March 2, 2016
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9)" CD/LP/Track Review Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9)
by John Eyles
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "Ljubljana" CD/LP/Track Review Ljubljana
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 6, 2017
Read "Mirror, Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Mirror, Mirror
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 3, 2017

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!

Buy it!