All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

224

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

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

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

Related Articles

Read Dirt...And More Dirt CD/LP/Track Review
Dirt...And More Dirt
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Brother Raymond CD/LP/Track Review
Brother Raymond
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Frescalalto CD/LP/Track Review
Frescalalto
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Motion CD/LP/Track Review
Motion
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 22, 2018
Read El Duende CD/LP/Track Review
El Duende
by Chris Mosey
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Walk The Walk CD/LP/Track Review
Walk The Walk
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 21, 2018
Read "BACHanalia" CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Leon" CD/LP/Track Review Leon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "No Secrets No Lies" CD/LP/Track Review No Secrets No Lies
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "On a Distant Shore" CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Cochonnerie" CD/LP/Track Review Cochonnerie
by John Sharpe
Published: November 24, 2017
Read "Tied Together, Not to the Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Tied Together, Not to the Ground
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 9, 2017