Arguably, this 2008 release stands as one of the more comprehensive and, plainly speaking, finest albums this avant-garde Norwegian record label has issued thus far.
However, that statement unto itself might seem a bit bold, especially when considering its impressive discography and largely exuberant acceptance from global avant-jazz and New Music aficionados. With this double duo piano and drums lineup, the band shows how the sky's the limit.
Recognized for his recordings for ECM Records, pianist Jon Balke augments the band sound with electronics-based treatments. During several passages the ensemble conjures up lucid imagery that is apt to take the listener on a mind-bending journey that seemingly defies elements of time and space. Reference points are hard to come by where the music assumes variable metrics and shapes. Think of free-form minimalist type sound-sculpting that is synchronized with ethereal backdrops.
The foursome executes spacey and harrowing frameworks marked by Balke and pianist Kenneth Karlsson's use of depth to coincide with their animated single note flurries. And they project lots of timbre amid a surfeit of unanticipated shifts in direction, often-enamored by the percussionists' booming drum hits, jangling bells and asymmetrical fills.
On the album's finale "Side Shadow," Balke and Karlsson render a series of oscillating piano and electronics patterns atop the percussionists' swarming metrics. It all casts a rather eerie effect as the music segues into a great void. Overall, the quartet parlays expressionism into many sub-plots and underlying motifs as if they're spinning a huge geometrical web that transcends any strict sense of musical normalcy. It's a powerful, yet daintily outlined trek that should offer gobs of stimulation to one's neural network.
Track Listing: Wide red; Di fianco; Sostenuto; Partita - Allemande I; Partita - Digression; Partita - Allemande II; Partita - Courtante; Partita - Sarabande; Partita - Gigue; Panopticon; Seven perspectives - point zero; Seven perspectives - point one; Seven perspectives - point two; Seven perspectives - point three; Seven perspectives - point five; Seven perspectives - point six; Seven perspectives - point seven; Side shadow; Vanishing point.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.