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The theme of Macroscopia is the universality of music, expressed as group improvisation by four superlative musicians. The quartet includes classically trained bassoonist Claire DeBrunner, an alumna of the Lennie Tristano school of free jazz via her mentors Lee Konitz and Connie Crothers}}; guitarist/percussionist Ken Silverman, who is heavily influenced by world music; reedman and trumpeter Daniel Carter, a veteran of the avant-garde bands of Cecil Taylor and David S. Ware; and ethnomusicologist/bassist Tom Zlabinger.
The disc starts with the "Opening," an introductory piece where Carter's muted trumpet, DeBrunner's heavy bassoon and Silverman's ethereal oud float
Silverman's Spanish-sounding guitar and Zlabinger's thumping bass set the rhythmic tone of "Mysterious Breath" a piece, characterized by the deeply mystical and brooding conversation between DeBrunner and Carter (on clarinet).
The jazzy guitar solo on "Dumbo Twilight" creates the mood that is enhanced by DeBrunner's soundwhich resembles an avant-garde baritone saxophoneand Carter's bluesy trumpet, all anchored by Zlabinger's pizzicato bass lines. The piece does meander a bit near its end, as the momentum slacks slightly. Repetitiveness also plagues the latter part of the otherwise intelligent tenor and bassoon duet, "Life Rattle," which features Silverman's percussion and guitar enhancing the dialogue, as well as the folk ballad-like "Totem Dance," which starts with Silverman's percussive oud work; the subsequent trumpet, tenor sax and bassoon improvisations are punctuated by the Arabian lute's mournful solo.
The two shorter tracks"Riff Tide" and "To Move As A Shadow"are dark and Cinematic, with bassoon, tenor sax (on the former), trumpet (on the latter), and guitar echo each other over Zlabinger's atmospheric repetitive vamps.
Despite occasionally flirting with monotony this is a thought-provoking work of powerful improvisation that draws on various influences to create a unique entity.
Track Listing: Opening; Mysterious Breath; Dumbo Twilight; Riff Tide; Life Rattle; To
Move as a Shadow; Totem Dance.
Personnel: Claire DeBrunner: bassoon; Daniel Carter: trumpet, reeds; Ken
Silverman: oud, guitar, percussion; Tom Zlabinger: bass.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.