Trumpeter Herb Robertson has demonstrated his facility in (albeit unconventional) melodic settings. But he also has great potential for the "other" kind of improvised music. Ritual,
a striking example of the latter, was performed on Leap Day, 2000. Recorded live to two-track in a darkened room lit only by candles (spooky!), he offers a tour of his truly vast sonic universe. With accompaniment by drummer Phil Haynes, Robertson explores some seriously extraterrestrial sounds.
By means only imaginable to this listener, he stretches the trumpet to the full limits of its sonic potential. Haynes is game for the occasional creative, punchy rhythmic interplaybut he plays much more the role of colorist than timekeeper. Thus their duets on Ritual consist entirely of free improvisation. Only toward the second half of the record does Robertson hint at any kind of linear play. The absence of conventional melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic forms creates an intriguing alternative to Robertson's more structured work as a sideman.
With their generous use of space, both these musicians make each note a deliberate act; and the dynamic range on this disc is dangerously huge. These two musicians treat structure as something to create in the moment and then wantonly destroy on a path elsewhere. As you might imagine, they occupy perilous ground.