Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

300

Ursel Schlicht/Bruce Arnold: String Theory

By

Sign in to view read count
Of the thousands of improvising musicians in New York, there are untold legions of gifted players who have scarcely been recognized. Ursel Schlicht should be counted among them. Her relative obscurity is partly self-imposed, as she seems uninterested in plopping herself comfortingly in a single marketable style, but the "industry and its attendant (or co-dependent?) slothful behavior of mainstream listeners are at least equally culpable.

Never mind: Schlicht displays not a jot of concern for this condition, showing up cheerfully for gigs with a warm smile and giving of her talent with generous abandon. Comparisons are slippery, but if Keith Jarrett had remained unknown and had veered decidedly toward a more atonal style, his career might have resembled Schlicht's. So far, that is.

Schlicht is not widely available on recordings (it's a safe bet there's no partition with her name on it to be found at Tower), but one thing is certain: she has issued a wonderfully listenable, yet daringly exploratory disc with guitarist Bruce Arnold (who also contributes electronic sounds with something called a supercollider).

The session sounds like an effort to seek every corner of modern musical expression without ever resorting to comfortable pop forms. While Arnold coaxes techno sounds from his supercollider, Schlicht, who is a fine jazz pianist with strong modern classical overtones in her improvising, cannily deploys prepared piano, with which she interjects percussive and textural counterpoint. These are some of the record's best moments, and part of the fun is trying to tell who's making which sounds and how.

Arnold, by the sound of it, has solid jazz technique, but when he attempts to improvise melodic counterpoint with Schlicht (an extremely difficult challenge) the result is sometimes less graceful, perhaps owing to the pianist's pronounced atonality. Here, the duo's stylistic differences may not quite mesh flawlessly, but elsewhere they find perfect union, as on the concluding three-part suite, in which all of the duo's ideas and techniques seem to gel and flourish in a cohesive dialogue.

Most freely improvised and/or experimental music is impossible to recommend to general audiences without dire warnings. String Theory is definitely not for every jazz lover—what is?—but for sophisticated and open-minded listeners, it's highly enjoyable music that invites repeated plays.


Personnel: Bruce Arnold: guitar, supercollider; Ursel Schlicht: piano, prepared piano.

Title: String Theory | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Muse Eek

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read The Songbook Project CD/LP/Track Review The Songbook Project
by Don Phipps
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Solo a Genova CD/LP/Track Review Solo a Genova
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Reaching Out CD/LP/Track Review Reaching Out
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read "Moldy Figs" CD/LP/Track Review Moldy Figs
by Paul Rauch
Published: July 10, 2017
Read "Little Giant Still Life" CD/LP/Track Review Little Giant Still Life
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "Solid Gold" CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Reflections in Cosmo" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections in Cosmo
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "Color Tones" CD/LP/Track Review Color Tones
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 2, 2017
Read "Kami Fusen" CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017