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Rob Reddy puts his saxophone aside to concentrate on composition for The Book of the Storm. Reddy has already shown that he has germane ideas and brings that facet into prominence once more.
The idea for a large ensemble came to him in 2001. Reddy could not contain the ideas that went through his imagination in a single narrative, so he parlayed that into a process that finally evolved into a four-part suite. The poet Tomas Tranströmer provides the next bit of inspiration with his poem "A Winter Night, in which its subject reads "the book of the storm.
The work was commissioned by the New York State Council on the Arts and the Jerome Foundation, and was performed at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in March 2007. The nineteen-piece band was comprised of musicians who have been involved with Reddy's music over the years.
Reddy works from the inside out. He says that he uses improvisation to support the melodic. Here the two merge, intermingle, weave their paths into and out, and bring in stunning dynamics and dynamism into the work.
Reddy lets both tributaries structure "Spacious Skies/Faithless Bells. The buildup comes from the angularity of Lisa Parrott's baritone saxophone, with the rhythm from the drums keeping a tidy beat. The French horns and saxophones sweep in to form a velvet backdrop. But Reddy does not let it all flow in well-defined terms. He finds consonance in dissonance as free lines course within the body. The electric guitar finds an arresting space, the horns jut out and shard the fabric before a calm descends. The tempo shifts constantly, the emphasis finding new direction, but the impact is constant. Reddy's use of instruments is exemplary.
He brings in the blues that lament and wrangle their way into the tortured soul of "God Damn. The opening wash of the guitar, bass and drums moves from gentle waters to a bitter testament, unyielding in the intensity propelled by the horns.
Reddy has more in his canon on man's humanity to man, and of the bigotry of religion and state. He does this with an undaunted passion. His view is most welcome, immersed as it is in the folds of this resolute suite.
Track Listing: Spacious Skies/Faithless Bells; God Damn; Fool's March; Amongst The Ruins.
Personnel: Rob Reddy: composer and conductor; Oscar Noriega: clarinet and bass clarinet; Steve Elson: flute and soprano saxophone; Cochemea Gastelum: alto saxophone; Tim Otto: soprano and tenor saxophones; Lisa Parrott: soprano and baritone saxophones; John Carlson: trumpet; Bob Scarpulla: trumpet; Mark Taylor: French horn; Lis Rubbard: French horn; Curtis Hasselbring: trombone; Charles Burnham: violin; Sarah Bernstein: violin; Marlene Rice: viola; Mary Wooten: cello; Dom Richards: double bass; Brandon Ross: acoustic and electric guitars; Jon Margulies: electric guitar; Pheeroan akLaff: drums; Guillermo E. Brown: drums.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.