191

Iskra 1903: Frankfurt 1991

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Iskra 1903: Frankfurt 1991 Iskra 1903, for those not in the know, is the name of a poorly-documented improvising trio consisting of trombonist Paul Rutherford, violinist Philipp Wachsmann, and bassist Barry Guy. They played together for nearly two decades, yet only one available recording documents their work together: an eponymous '92 disc on Maya. Emanem to the rescue—for this release, a 1991 Frankfurt performance sees the light of day. The first set, a half hour-long trio improvisation, leads to a second brief trio piece, then 8-9 minute solos from each member, then an (unfortunately interrupted) denouement.

This trio, with its unusual instrumentation, has quite a distinctive sound. And unlike a lot of free-improv groups which cast aside as much energy as they are able to retain, this group seems to focus in order to build momentum. Rutherford may craft a melodic line of legato tones while Wachsmann and Guy convene to offer harmonic cues and demarcate the turns in his route. Or the members of the group might suddenly meet, discover disagreement, and forge a shared path out of the wilderness. Progress might mean thumping, scratching noises out of Guy's bass or swerving microtonal double-stops from Wachsmann's violin, or both. It might mean evolving call-and-response wailing or stuttering atonal exchanges. But the personalities here seem more interested in sticking together than falling apart.

They take their opportunity to fall apart completely in the second set, where each player takes the stage separately. This segment is particularly poignant given the impressive solo work each of these players has put on disc. Wachsmann's solo fills up the empty space with higher-order harmonics and electronic echoes. He builds a deliberate architecture of (mostly) high-register tones by crafting individual fragments and then assembling them together into an over-arching framework. Rutherford, on the other hand, draws his inspiration from melody and vocalization. His performance, while anything but linear, often resembles the human voice. He devotes much of his effort to dynamic tension and resolution, and you'll even catch him swinging once or twice. Barry Guy, who covers the widest tonal range of these three players, accompanies himself in a surreal sort of way that occasionally borders on schizophrenic. He'll tap and tinkle up top while imposing an irregular bass metronome, or he'll bow a heart-felt harmonized line that interrupts itself regularly with distractions from above or below.

After the solos, the players returns to the group setting recharged, reinvigorated, and eager to move. The final track (unfortunately interrupted after seven minutes, though tastefully so) contains some of the highest-intensity playing on the disc, along with regular moments of starkly beautiful melodicism.


Track Listing: Frankfurter Memories; After the Interval; Wachsmann Am Main; Rutherford Am Main; Guy Am Main; To the End of the Tape.

Personnel: Paul Rutherford, trombone; Philipp Wachsmann, amplified violin and electronics; Barry Guy, amplified double bass.

| Record Label: Emanem | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Playing the 60s" CD/LP/Track Review Playing the 60s
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Windows" CD/LP/Track Review Windows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "Free for One" CD/LP/Track Review Free for One
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 29, 2016
Read "Flawless Dust" CD/LP/Track Review Flawless Dust
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 20, 2016
Read "In All My Holy Mountain" CD/LP/Track Review In All My Holy Mountain
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 12, 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!