300

Ursel Schlicht/Bruce Arnold: String Theory

By

Sign in to view read count
Ursel Schlicht/Bruce Arnold: String Theory 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.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Muse Eek | Style: Beyond Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Dream In The Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Dream In The Blue
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 28, 2016
Read "Agartha" CD/LP/Track Review Agartha
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Lightyears" CD/LP/Track Review Lightyears
by Jim Olin
Published: July 2, 2016
Read "Tie the Stone to the Wheel" CD/LP/Track Review Tie the Stone to the Wheel
by John Eyles
Published: April 3, 2016
Read "Transatlantic Conversations: 11 Piece Band Live" CD/LP/Track Review Transatlantic Conversations: 11 Piece Band Live
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 14, 2016
Read "Komorebi" CD/LP/Track Review Komorebi
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!