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Andrew Raffo Dewar: Interactions Quartet

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Composer, ethnomusicologist, educator and saxophonist Andrew Raffo Dewar studied and worked with some of the most forward-thinking and innovative musicians and composers such as Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon and Alvin Lucier. So it is only natural that his work expands on their compositional ideas and focuses on invented forms, experimenting with new sounds and an expansion of a tradition of experimentalism bridging the worlds of free jazz, free improvisation and contemporary music.

Raffo's Interactions Quartet is comprised of like-minded, fearless experimentalists, all from the Bay Area—oboe, English horn and electronics player Kyle Bruckmann, percussionist and electronics player Gino Robair and electric guitarist John Shiruba. These musicians realize Raffo's bold, multi-layered musical vision with impressive command, focus and inventive spirit, contributing their personal extended techniques to the intricate sonic textures.

The first cycle, "Interactions #1-6" (2009), is dedicated to Argentinian composer Guillermo Gregorio. These interactions pieces investigate methodically and patiently the architecture of sound. The quartet explores the tension and interaction between raw, concrete noises and fleeting, conventional melodic themes, the kinetic aspects of acoustic and electronic sounds, the blurring of sound sources and abstraction of pulse and subvert any attempt to frame these pieces in traditional conceptions of foreground and background events. Each of these five reserved interactions also explores different configurations of the musicians—solos- duos, trios, quartets—sometimes independently and often overlapping.

The second cycle, "Piece for Four Instruments" (2002), dedicated to composer Earle Brown takes Brown's innovative notation system a step further. This cycle offers an invented spatial notation that can be performed in any order with any number of repetitions and omissions of a given page out of its thirteen pages. The six pieces in this cycle suggest open group dynamics, still in a highly reversed interplay, focusing on indeterminate counterpoint resulting in an array of irrational rhythmic relationships. On this cycle, as on the former one, the subtle, imaginative work of Robair often determines the nature of this pieces. He interferes in any structuring of a melodic motif with ironic, creative touches, intensifying the tension, and opts for an abstract, open-ended forms.

Raffo's compositions are demanding and cerebral, still, suggesting an arresting and bold way to experience sounds and music.

Track Listing: Interactions #2; Interactions #6; Interactions #1; Interactions #5; Interactions #4; Piece for Four Instruments: H+A+Solo 4; F+Solo 3; C+D; G; Solo1; E.

Personnel: Andrew Raffo Dewar: sax soprano; Kyle Bruckmann: oboe, corno inglese, elettronica; Gino Robair: percussioni, elettronica; John Shiurba: chitarra elettrica.

Title: Interactions Quartet | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Rastascan Records

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