178

Spooky Actions: Early Music

Rex  Butters By

Sign in to view read count
Spooky Actions: Early Music Bruce Arnold and John Gunther return with their Spooky Actions project, an inventive improvisational interpretation of musics not often tackled by jazz-based units. Having already rearranged the thorny intricacies of Webern and the soaring power of Native American melodies, here they address the haunting subtleties of early music, including variations on themes by Monteverdi, Dufay, and Von Bingen, as well as Gregorian chant. The quartet achieves a skillful balance in creating modern arrangements that retain connections to the deep reverence of the originals.

With Gunther on flute and Mike Richmond on cello doubling the theme, Von Bingen's "De Virginibus O Nobilissima Viriditas" yields its gentle beauty nestled in the atmospheric processed guitar of Arnold. Kirk Driscoll's spare, steady percussion keeps the ethereal piece grounded. Arnold weaves clear-toned innovations on Dufay's "Vergine Bella." With Gunther on sensual soprano, Driscoll and Richmond create a breezy tension.

The brief take on Monteverdi's "Canzonet 1,2, & 3" has the light sophistication of a Ben Allison track, while "Gregorian Chant" gets a surprisingly vigorous reading. Likewise, "Introit, Gaudeamus Omnes" becomes a gentle whirlpool as the contrapuntal round unfolds. Based on music written in the second century BC, "Epitaph of Seikilos" appropriately emerges from a mist of Frippian guitar effects. Gunther's tenor doubles Richmond's bowed bass through the reflective theme, before sending smokey tones entwining electronic swells.

Driscoll and Richmond tap the joy of "Alleluya," with Gunther celebrating on flute. Arnold takes a wiry solo before supporting Gunther's extended flight. Arnold again electronically orchestrates on "Ode from the Kanon for Easter Sunday," setting the stage of Gunther's bass clarinet, and then bringing a springy altered guitar sound to the composition.

Spooky Actions manage to shine a modern light on ancient sacred music without bleaching the dark mysteries inherent in the initial design.

Track Listing: De Virginibus O Nobilissima; Vergine Bella; Canzonet 1, 2, & 3; Gregorian Chant, Introit; Epitaph of Seikilos; Alleluya; Ode from the Kanon for Easter.

Personnel: Bruce Arnold: guitar; John Gunther: flute, soprano, tenor sax, bass clarinet; Kirk Driscoll: drums; Mike Richmond: bass, cello.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Muse Eek | Style: Fringes of Jazz


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read The Big Wig CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Dreamer Is the Dream CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Failure of Words CD/LP/Track Review The Failure of Words
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Starer" CD/LP/Track Review Starer
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 26, 2016
Read "Fake It Until You Make It" CD/LP/Track Review Fake It Until You Make It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 17, 2016
Read "The Wild" CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Uh Oh!" CD/LP/Track Review Uh Oh!
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 30, 2016
Read "Now Hear This!" CD/LP/Track Review Now Hear This!
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 7, 2017
Read "The Outlier" CD/LP/Track Review The Outlier
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 16, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!