The MacroQuarktet: The Complete Night: Live At The Stone NYC

Mark Corroto BY

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The MacroQuarktet: The Complete Night: Live At The Stone NYC
Listening to The MacroQuarktet calls to mind comedians Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters. Did they warm up before an evening of improvisational comedy? Once on stage or a TV talk show, instantaneously they were 'on,' firing a superabundance of thoughts, jokes, impressions, etc at their audience. It is the same for the two improvised music sets by this 'on' quartet.

Recorded in 2007 and originally released as a single disc on Herb Robertson's Ruby Flower Records label as Each Part A Whole: Live At The Stone NYC (2008), the long-out-of-print CD has been remixed, remastered and expanded to include both sets on two discs. This utterly remarkable display of instantaneous improvising is delivered by two trumpeters, Robertson and Dave Ballou, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey. Ballou and Robertson were then, and continue to be, members of Satoko Fujii's New York Orchestra, and all four have been prominent contributors to the Downtown scene in New York.

What amazes in these two sets is the immediacy of the music. The seventeen tracks are actually five extended works indexed for the listener's consumption. While the jacket lists the instrumentation as trumpets, bass, and drums, what we actually get are trumpets with and without mutes and attachments, cornet, piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn, and plastic hose, plus Gress switching from plucked to bowed bass and adding 'fan' to his instrumentation. Ballou and Robertson swap between multi-phonic voicing and accompaniments, creating a call-and-response which seems to never repeat an idea throughout.

The inclusion of the quartet's second set is not an afterthought. What was probably envisioned as a volume II, is just as strong as the original release, with "Crossing The Threshold" (parts 1-5) and the two-part "No Planet." The players seemingly never draw from the same well twice, keeping the stream of improvisations flowing. This is one awe-inspiring effort by four masters.

Track Listing

Neuroplasticity pt. 1; Neuroplasticity pt. 2; Neuroplasticity pt. 3; Ducks And Geese...Or Rabbits pt. 13; Ducks And Geese...Or Rabbits pt. 1; Ducks And Geese...Or Rabbits pt. 2; Ducks And Geese...Or Rabbits pt. 4; Basil D. Ganglia pt. 1; Basil D. Ganglia pt. 2; Basil D. Ganglia pt. 3; Crossing The Threshold pt. 1; Crossing The Threshold pt. 2; Crossing The Threshold pt. 3; Crossing The Threshold pt. 4; Crossing The Threshold pt. 5; No Planet B pt. 1; No Planet B pt. 2.


Herb Robertson: trumpet; Dave Ballou: trumpet; Drew Gress: bass; Tom Rainey: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Herb Robertson: trumpet, cornet, electric megaphones, mutes, attachments; Dave Ballou: trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet, plastic hose, mutes.

Album information

Title: The Complete Night: Live At The Stone NYC | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Out Of Your Head Records

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