215

Anthony Burr / Oscar Noriega / Chris Speed: The Clarinets

Paul Olson By

Sign in to view read count
Anthony Burr / Oscar Noriega / Chris Speed: The Clarinets The Clarinets is both the name of the all-clarinet improvisational trio of Chris Speed, Oscar Noriega and Anthony Burr, and the title of their new CD, the first release on Speed's new Skirl Records imprint. Here Speed (on clarinet), Noriega (on bass clarinet and clarinet) and Burr (on bass clarinet) explore the possibilities of their instruments in an improvised setting. Jazz purists won't find much to enjoy here: these eight pieces (gloriously recorded in the expansive former-church interior of the NACL Theater in Highland Lake, New York in 2005) display an almost-complete absence of tempo, jazz licks or harmonic development.

That said, this is surely the most affably accessible all-improv recording in a very long time. The Clarinets play measured, patient material that's undeniably atmospheric—a little too there to be ambient music, but simmering just above the line of that genre—but at the same time musically memorable. The term "instant composition gets bandied about so often in reference to musical improvisation that it's become a cliché, but here, for once, it's true: the power of songs like "Constellating and "Scrawl to implant themselves in the listener's mind is entirely the result of their elegant and, yes, compositional construction.

Texture and tone also play a huge role here. Lovers of the sweet, wooden sounds of these reeds—and that includes the sound of simple aspiration and percussive, popping pads as well as musical notes—will be in ecstasy hearing these voices converse, argue, join and detach. "Languor couldn't be more aptly titled as Speed's clarinet sighs out a melody along the sleepy, slow-stirring bass clarinets of Noriega and Burr. There's a real sense of unhurried, sunrise awakening—you can almost see the rays playing across the veldt as the lions stretch and rise.

"Accord embodies its title just as perfectly as the bass clarinets burble irritably and separately, while Speed's clarinet sings out wildly-dissimilar long, keening notes. Eventually Noriega takes up Speed's line, and then the lone holdout, Burr, gives in and takes it up as well, as if grudgingly converted by an unassailable argument. In the end, consonance wins out over schism.

Whether or not the preceding flights of interpretive fancy have any basis in fact doesn't really matter much. On "Lovescar, the spacious, silent performing space feels like the fourth member of the band—its emptiness surrounding the quiet cacophany of the increasingly chattering reeds. There's a pin-drop pregnancy of event here that's quite powerful, even if the song resists any glib search for narrative.

The three musicians here are old companions and The Clarinets has a corresponding amiability of dialogue—there's kindness and humor in the voices, even when they're not unified. Clarinet enthusiasts should hear this music—and so, for that matter, should everyone else.


Track Listing: Constellating; Languor; Accord; Televiewer; Scrawl; Mockingbird; Negatives; Lovescar.

Personnel: Anthony Burr: bass clarinet; Oscar Noriega: bass clarinet, clarinet; Chris Speed: clarinet.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Skirl Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Planet" CD/LP/Track Review Planet
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 28, 2016
Read "Buoyancy" CD/LP/Track Review Buoyancy
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Interstellar Space" CD/LP/Track Review Interstellar Space
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: May 29, 2016
Read "Akua's Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "This Is Trumpetology" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Trumpetology
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 17, 2016
Read "Checkpoint" CD/LP/Track Review Checkpoint
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 6, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!