Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

292

Ches Smith & These Arches: Finally Out Of My Hands

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Despite its brief 35-minute runtime, Finally Out Of My Hands is one of the year's most intriguing releases. The debut recording of Ches Smith & These Arches, this visceral studio session features an unorthodox instrumental combination courtesy of some of New York's finest improvisers. Leading the unusual quartet from his trap set, Smith is joined by Downtown luminaries Mary Halvorson (electric guitar), Andrea Parkins (accordion, organ and electronics) and Tony Malaby (tenor saxophone). Eschewing conventional roles, they erase preconceived boundaries separating the frontline from the rhythm section, conjuring verdant sonic panoramas that balance compositional clarity with mercurial invention.

The band name These Arches alludes to the function of the arch in traditional bridge design, in which weight is supported by horizontal tension at the arches' intersection—a concept paralleled by creative improvised music's tenuous balance between freedom and form. Embracing this duality, Smith's writing juxtaposes intricate themes with free-form interludes, alternating bouts of trenchant angularity with passages of ethereal impressionism. Brief and to the point, Smith's concise structures and oddly tuneful themes are influenced by his longstanding involvement in the underground music scene as a member of such inimitable ensembles as Good For Cows, Secret Chiefs 3 and Xiu Xiu.

Nebulous and unpredictable, Smith's tortuous compositions embrace linear narratives rather than standardized forms, their irregular patterns following an idiosyncratic logic of their own design. Drawing on a plethora of avant-garde traditions, he varies arrangements and instrumental pairings, providing nuanced alternatives to the unfettered collectivism typical of unstructured free improvisation.

"Anxiety Disorder," the album's compelling opener, rides a soaring modal melody infused with dramatic Middle-Eastern overtones to an inevitable, electrifying climax. The menacing title track follows suit, with Malaby's smoldering lyricism initially offsetting Parkins' discordant clusters, later intertwining with Halvorson's bristling fretwork. Beyond category, the mesmerizing "Sixteen Bars For Jail" gradually deconstructs from a rousing anthem of hypnotic rhythms to a surreal phantasmagoria of prismatic textures.

The haunting "One Long Minute" breaks form, unfolding as an atmospheric rubato tone poem driven by Malaby's ghostly flute-like altissimo—a serene respite from the preceding chaos. The cyclical variations of "It Rained and the Tent Fell Down" and the expansive "Disgust for a Pathetic Chorale" flout convention even further. The later introduces Malaby and Parkins' plangent long tones intermittently punctuated by Smith and Halvorson's throttling assaults. After a swift but tense bridge, the entire quartet regroups for the hushed coda, an effervescent mosaic of pointillist introspection.

Though short by contemporary standards, Finally Out Of My Hands trades duration for density, offering a compact study in dynamics, mood and tone that reveals subtle new details on each listen.

Track Listing: Anxiety Disorder; Finally Out Of My Hands; Sixteen Bars For Jail; One Long Minute; Conclusion; It Rained and the Tent Fell Down; Disgust for a Pathetic Chorale; Civilization.

Personnel: Ches Smith: drums; Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone; Mary Halvorson: guitar; Andrea Parkins: accordion, organ, electronics.

Title: Finally Out Of My Hands | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Skirl Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Read more articles
The Bell

The Bell

ECM Records
2016

buy
Hammered

Hammered

Clean Feed Records
2013

buy
 

Finally Out of My...

NuBOP RADIO-iTunes(internet radio)
2011

buy
Finally Out Of My Hands

Finally Out Of My...

Skirl Records
2010

buy
Unrock Series 21.01.2010

Unrock Series...

Unsound Recordings
2010

buy
Congs for Brums

Congs for Brums

Free Porcupine Society
2006

buy

Upcoming Shows

Related Articles

Read Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances Album Reviews
Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances
By Dan McClenaghan
May 21, 2019
Read Crowded Heart Album Reviews
Crowded Heart
By Nicholas F. Mondello
May 21, 2019
Read That's a Computer Album Reviews
That's a Computer
By Jerome Wilson
May 21, 2019
Read All I Do Is Bleed Album Reviews
All I Do Is Bleed
By Paul Naser
May 21, 2019
Read LE10 18-05 Album Reviews
LE10 18-05
By Karl Ackermann
May 20, 2019
Read Remembering Miles Album Reviews
Remembering Miles
By Dan McClenaghan
May 20, 2019
Read Merry Peers Album Reviews
Merry Peers
By Bruce Lindsay
May 20, 2019