This long-dormant recording by the late Australian composer/pianist Keith Humble and legendary contrabass virtuoso Bertram Turetzky
is finally available as Kinetic Conversations
a searing document recorded in Mandeville Auditorium at the University of California, San Diego, on March 19, 1986.
The quality, both in terms of fidelity and performance values, is sterling throughout. Humble plays both grand piano and electronic keyboardsbut neither in ways that conform to standard practicesalthough one could draw favorable comparisons to Cecil Taylor
and Sun Ra
as references. Turetzky's huge sound is faithfully reproduced, the man's bass often sounds like it is ten-feet tall.
It would be hard to imagine a stronger opener than "We Know Webern," where violent extremes resonate with exquisite detail and nuance. The degree of listening on display is vital, and each instrument feels living-room-close.
Humble's synthesizers conjure electronic mayhem on "Extremes," where Turetzky's furious sawing ground the proceedings in humanistic balance, and the maestro's arco moans like an injured leviathan on "Where To?" in response to clustered glissandi and de-tuned harpsichord effects.
The bass dominates the upper partials of "Wait," layered over a strange, earthquake rumble and rattling undulations. Turetzky's sound is dark and muscular, even when he's coaxing eerie female sighs from bowing close to the bridge.
Humble's electronics produce something that sounds like the slow grind of tectonic plates on the appropriately titled "Slide," while Turetzky intones an agitated elegy. Elsewhere, mournful, pensive bowed tones vie with Star Trek dream-sequence murmurings, or aggression toggles with the whimsical, as in "The Meeting."
Despite the fact that Turetzky is a music historian with a great deal of knowledge on the subjectdo not look for any Pops Foster
similarities on "One Note Slap." The slaps in question here are literal, malevolent and they emerge from a perspective that still sounds futuristic some 28 years after these tapes were slipped into the vault.
Thank goodness someone opened it.
We know Webern; Extremes; Where to?; Wait; Slide; Quiet; Space; The meeting; One note slap; Dark; A little groove; Histoire dance; The sound of the bass.