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SLM Ensemble: Source

Eyal Hareuveni By

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SLM is an acronym for Source Liminal Music as well as a tri-consonantal root of of the Hebrew and Arabic words for peace, shalom and salam. It is also the name of a composition of master double bassist Mark Dresser and composer-conductor Sarah Weaver, written for the "Deep Tones for Peace" event in April 2009, a concert of 13 innovative double bass players, performing live simultaneously in Jerusalem, Israel and New York (captured on the CD/DVD Deep Tones for Peace: Jerusalem-NYC-Tel Aviv-2009 (Kadima Collective, 2010).

Dresser and Weaver continued to collaborate and formed the the SLM Ensemble in 2014 as a New York-based experimental large ensemble. This ensemble features an elite group of musicians as trombonist Ray Anderson, saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom, flutist Robert Dick, reeds player Marty Ehrlich and Ned Rothenberg and drummer Gerry Hemingway, many of them collaborated in different genre-binding formations in the last decades. Source is the new ensemble debut album, featuring two extended compositions—"Spectral Syn" by Dresser and Weaver and "Cycles of Awakening" by Weaver. Both pieces are structured as conducted improvisations that integrate elements of modern jazz, contemporary experimental music, shamanic music and music from the Middle East and the Far East into complex textures.

"Spectral Syn" is performed by ten musicians. It weaves the highly personal, inventive improvisational languages of the ensemble musicians, especially vocalist Jen Shyu, Dick and Boom, into a multifaceted suite. Its chamber-like, searching spirit slowly transforms into a powerful and intense free jazz piece, fueled by the massive rhythm section of Dresser and Hemingway, both collaborating on and off for almost thirty years now since their time in the legendary Anthony Braxton Quartet. The 39-minutes "Cycles of Awakening," written for 13 performing musicians, suggests a completely different atmosphere. Ideas from ancient musical traditions as China, introduced by pipa player Robert Dick Min Xiao-Fen, Japan, offered by Rothenberg's shakuhachi flute and the koto of Miya Masaoka, and the Middle East, played by the santoor and the praying voice of trumpet player Amir ElSaffar, are deconstructed and abstracted in a series of free improvisations. These improvisations, loosely tied by an impressive arco work of Dresser, expand the timbral spectrum of each instrument and of the ensemble as a whole and stress the unique capability of the ensemble to synthesize and realize new sonic territories. But more important, these improvised segments offer an inclusive, peaceful common ground for the many diverse musical cultures, past and present, obviously, enriched by these influences.

Inspiring work of experimental music.

Track Listing: Spectral Syn; Cycles of Awakening.

Personnel: Jen Shyu: voice; Robert Dick: flutes; Jane Ira Bloom: soprano saxophone; Marty Ehrlich: saxophone (1); Oliver Lake: alto saxophone (2); Ned Rothenberg: bass clarinet; shakuhachi (2); Amir ElSaffar: trumpet, voice, santoor (2); Julie Ferrara: oboe (1); Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon (1); Dave Taylor: bass trombone; Ray Anderson: trombone (2); Min Xiao-Fen: pipa (2), Miya Masaoka: koto (2); Ursel Schlicht, piano: Mark Dresser: double bass; Gerry Hemingway: percussion; Sarah Weaver: conductor.

Title: Source | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Liminal Music


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