All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

215

Anthony Burr / Oscar Noriega / Chris Speed: The Clarinets

By

Sign in to view read count
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.

Title: The Clarinets | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Skirl Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read with whom you can be who you are CD/LP/Track Review
with whom you can be who you are
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Inner Core CD/LP/Track Review
Inner Core
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Dirigo Rataplan II CD/LP/Track Review
Dirigo Rataplan II
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 21, 2018
Read The Window CD/LP/Track Review
The Window
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Mønk CD/LP/Track Review
Mønk
by Chris May
Published: September 20, 2018
Read The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2018
Read "Dawn" CD/LP/Track Review Dawn
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 27, 2018
Read "Horizons" CD/LP/Track Review Horizons
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 27, 2017
Read "druidh penumbrae" CD/LP/Track Review druidh penumbrae
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 17, 2018
Read "Interchange" CD/LP/Track Review Interchange
by Don Phipps
Published: August 2, 2018
Read "Polka (Worldwide Deluxe Edition)" CD/LP/Track Review Polka (Worldwide Deluxe Edition)
by Chris May
Published: August 8, 2018
Read "Roberto Magris Sextet Live In Miami @ The WDNA Jazz Gallery" CD/LP/Track Review Roberto Magris Sextet Live In Miami @ The WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 2, 2017