223

Eugene Lee: equilibrium

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Eugene Lee: equilibrium On this solo disc, his third, Portland, Oregon-based saxophonist Eugene Lee marks a further step in the disciplined path that led through his last release, Meditations (Pure Potentiality, 2008).

equilibrium (all the titles are in lower-case, e.e. cummings-like) shares some elements of Meditations, notably the presence of Lee alone and the liberal use of electronics to generate a wealth of sonic variety: echo, loops, distortion. While the earlier record depicted the various states of the mind during meditation, this recording opts for less programmatic themes, and fewer, longer numbers. The electronics, meanwhile, are live this time round, relying on guitar pedals to modify the signal.

"rain" charts the progress of a rainstorm, with electronic effects approximating rainfall and thunder. Unlike, say, Beethoven's celebrated version of a thundershower in his Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral), Lee doesn't present the storm as a story with an anthropomorphic narrative arc: Lee's storm ebbs and flows, quiets down and gets loud again, just like rainstorms do. Ultimately, the storm passes. At various junctures, Lee's saxophone returns to a repeated melodic fragment, which lends unity and coherence to the performance.

"clarity," too, returns to a melodic center amidst the swirling effects set in motion by the electronics, though perhaps less successfully than on "rain." This longest of the three compositions suggests a tumultuous quest for the clarity of the title, though the long sustained, harmonic chord at the end sounds like success— much like the seated meditator, who was the protagonist of Lee's previous disc, finally calming his or her "monkey mind." "unity," finally, is an affecting solo soprano saxophone performance without electronic embellishment.

Lee's long performances draw a lesson from the late classical composer Toru Takemitsu, who once likened the progression of his pieces to walking through a garden: roughly speaking, you keep walking, but sometimes you turn back to have another look at that rose bush or that statue. That's a good way to write about a storm. The music on this disc is challenging material, at the juncture of improvised jazz and electronic music, at times bordering on cacophony. But it is challenging material made welcoming and familiar by that gesture of going back and having another look at that rose bush.


Track Listing: Rain; Clarity; Unity.

Personnel: Eugene Lee: soprano saxophone, electronics.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Pure Potentiality Records | Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


Shop

More Articles

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 June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping And Dreaming" CD/LP/Track Review I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping And Dreaming
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 21, 2016
Read "Alchemist" CD/LP/Track Review Alchemist
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 1, 2017
Read "Music Box Music" CD/LP/Track Review Music Box Music
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 8, 2017
Read "George DeLancey" CD/LP/Track Review George DeLancey
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2016
Read "Jungle: Live At Okuden" CD/LP/Track Review Jungle: Live At Okuden
by John Sharpe
Published: November 17, 2016
Read "2-Man Jazz Band" CD/LP/Track Review 2-Man Jazz Band
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 27, 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!

Buy it!