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Wayne Horvitz: Some Places Are Forever Afternoon (11 Places For Richard Hugo)

Dan Bilawsky By

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Nature's gifts, depressive streaks, undiluted tastes of reality, and everyday slices of twentieth century northwestern American life all strongly inform the work of poet Richard Hugo (1923-1982); all of those elements, not surprisingly, also find there way into pianist Wayne Horvitz's Some Places Are Forever Afternoon (11 Places For Richard Hugo)—an absorbing collection of music that manages to merge the visceral and intellectual in much the same way that Hugo's writing does.

While there's inherent difficulty in an instrumental tribute to an artist of words, Horvitz manages to overcome the odds, successfully pulling the truth, bleakness, and beauty off of Hugo's pages. The music itself can be tune-rich at times, ostinato-driven at moments, episodic on occasion, and bleak in places. The sun might shine through, only to be obscured by dark shadows moments later, and a breath of fresh aural air can quickly be replaced by stifling sounds.

Horvitz's writing is broad in scope, due, in no small part, to the nature of Hugo's work. But the instrumentation, and, more importantly, the specific personalities behind the instruments, also has a lot to do with the wide-ranging nature of this music. Horvitz merged two of his most distinctive outfits—Sweeter Than the Day and the Gravitas Quartet—to form a stellar septet grounded in earthy sonic realism yet bound to no single emotional space. Ron Miles' pure-toned cornet, Peggy Lee's stately and intriguing cello, and Sara Schoenbeck's calculated-cum-curious bassoon merge seamlessly with Timothy Young's pastoral-turned-potent guitar, Keith Lowe's grounding bass, and Eric Eagle's supportive yet open drumming. And at the center of it all is Horvitz, focused and searching at once, cementing this one-of-a-kind ensemble with hands on keys.

There's buoyancy, cheer, and reflection to be made with this marriage of sounds ("Those Who Remain Are The Worst"); murk and despondency in the detailed interaction(s) ("You Drink Until You Are Mayor"); offerings of intensity-in-the-making ("You Must Have Stayed Hours"); hip music with groove(s) to offer ("All Weather Is Yours No Matter How Vulgar"); a lengthy rumination ("The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs"); and a country-tinged libation to drink in ("In Some Other Home"). Each piece comes from a different place yet they're all part of the same experience, speaking to a single life lived and a specific mind wandering through different states of being.

Track Listing: Money Or A Story; Those Who Remain Are The Worst; You Drink Until You Are Mayor; Nothing Dies As Slowly As A Scene; All Weather Is Yours No Matter How Vulgar?; The Beautiful Wives; For Jim And Lois Welch; In Some Other Home; The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs; Last Place There; You Must Have Stayed Hours; Some Places Are Forever Afternoon.

Personnel: Wayne Horvitz: piano Hammond B-3, electronics; Ron Miles: cornet; Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon; Peggy Lee: cello; Tim Young: guitar; Keith Lowe: bass; Eric Eagle: drums.

Title: Some Places Are Forever Afternoon (11 Places For Richard Hugo) | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

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