All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Ned Rothenberg: Solo Works - The Lumina Recordings

Alexander J. Beissenhirtz By

Sign in to view read count
Despite the landmark work of Sonny Rollins, Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker and Steve Lacy, solo saxophone performance represents an exception rather than the norm in jazz and improvisation. Because of the instrumental limitations, solo reed players need to develop complex multiphonic techniques or make use of electronic overdubbing in order to go beyond mere single-note playing.

The Lumina Recordings, recorded between 1980 and 1985, represent the entire spectrum of solo improvisation on reed instruments. The two-disc set contains music from three albums that initially appeared on LP on Rothenberg's Lumina label, now available on CD for the first time. As a bonus, there are twenty minutes of previously unissued music (disc two, tracks 9-11).

On the opening Trials of the Argo," Rothenberg develops long saxophone sequences that intermingle with previously conceived sounds through overdubbing. Throughout the piece's 22 minutes, his playing moves in and out of the background sounds, creating an uniterrupted continuous musical flow.

Evan Parker, another influential solo saxophone improviser, introduced Rothenberg to the music of the Canadian Inuit people, whose traditional vocal music inspired him to record Continuo After the Inuit. Through circular breathing and multiphonics, Rothenberg creates an array of sounds resembling several interacting instruments and human voices, yet the saxophonist does not resort to any overdubs or electronics during the piece's nearly nineteen-minute duration. The vocal quality of Rothenberg's alto saxophone and the dance-like folk rhythms create an almost meditational atmosphere, yet his improvisations are never song-like melodies—they remain modernistic throughout.

Although The Lumina Recordings may be far removed from traditional conceptions of tonality, rhythm and melody, the set's relentless pulse keeps it from sounding overly abstract or hermetic. "My relationship to pulse drew much more from the dance-based roots of jazz and R&B and from love of folk music, Rothenberg states. Despite its jazz roots, Rothenberg's highly individual approach is an amalgamation of various musical traditions and styles, ranging from folk materials to minimal music and the innovations of New York's '80s Downtown scene.

The duos with alto saxophonist John Zorn ("Kakeai ) and drummer Gerry Hemmingway ("Polysemy ) fit well into this program. Most of the mid-'80s improvisations on the second disc are shorter than the earlier pieces on disc one. It is surprising that Rothenberg calls his later improvisations "not nearly as pre-planned as in the early 80s, because his playing seems controlled and structured throughout. It is almost impossible to figure out which parts were pre-arranged or composed, and which parts were spontaneously improvised.

Though they were recorded more than twenty years ago, these recordings sound fresh and innovative, confirming Ned Rothenberg's importance as an influential voice among contemporary improvisers. The 36-page booklet features Rothenberg's comments on his music, plus numerous photos and pictures.

Track Listing: Trials of the Argo; Continuo After the Inuit; Portal; Polysemy; Caeneus; Strata; Trespass; Caenis; Slapstick; Filigree; Kakeai; Taps; Wrestling with Water; Funhouse #1; Funhouse #2.

Personnel: Ned Rothenberg: alto saxophone, bass clarinet, processed bass clarinet, soprano double ocarina, woodwinds, trap set, homemade instruments; David Weinstein: live digital signal processing; John Zorn: alto saxophone; Gerry Hemingway: steel drum.

Title: Solo Works - The Lumina Recordings | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Tzadik


comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
My Favourite Things
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

Related Articles

Read Wherever You're Starting From CD/LP/Track Review
Wherever You're Starting From
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery CD/LP/Track Review
Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 21, 2018
Read From Silence to Somewhere CD/LP/Track Review
From Silence to Somewhere
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Never Bet The Devil Your Head CD/LP/Track Review
Never Bet The Devil Your Head
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 21, 2018
Read The Questions CD/LP/Track Review
The Questions
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 20, 2018
Read Meerkat Parade CD/LP/Track Review
Meerkat Parade
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 20, 2018
Read "From Beyond" CD/LP/Track Review From Beyond
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 16, 2018
Read "Sovereign" CD/LP/Track Review Sovereign
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "Live At The  Century City Playhouse – Los Angeles, 1979" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Century City Playhouse – Los Angeles,...
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 27, 2018
Read "ON Tour" CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Solano Canyon" CD/LP/Track Review Solano Canyon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 23, 2018
Read "Sing Me Some Cry" CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017