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

John Sharpe By

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The MacroQuarktet: The Complete Night: Live At The Stone NYC
The Complete Night presents forward looking trumpeters Herb Robertson and Dave Ballou in a series of long form improvisations from NYC venue The Stone in 2007, in a foursome with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey. The first set was previously issued as Each Part A Whole on Robertson's Ruby Flower imprint, but in its latest incarnation on Out Of Your Head Records, it has been supplemented by the second set, which is certainly worth having. While there's no road map at hand, these four are expert route finders who know how to construct a gripping journey.

For listening convenience each of the five pieces is demarcated into several tracks, based on events in the continuous performances. A palpable sense of experimentation pervades the evening, where the participants try things out, listen and adjust in an ongoing flow. Both Robertson and Ballou converse in a vernacular which can be traced back via Art Ensemble of Chicago trumpeter Lester Bowie to almost lost sounds from the tradition such as the vocalized inflections of Rex Stewart and Bubber Miley in Duke Ellington's Orchestra and the subtle tonal variation of Miles Davis.

Robertson possesses an astonishing range, taking in plosive rattling and vocal mutter, which is matched only by his restless imagination. Ballou proves slightly more likely to explore conventional tonality, in a combination that works well. Both trumpeters exploit the expressive potential of mutes, while Ballou varies his palette further with a plastic hose, while Robertson makes sparing use of an electric megaphone at one point. Together they purvey a garrulous avant-garde lexicon of growls, buzzes and squeals, emulating everything from a motor bike to a kazoo.

In a selfless group music, the quartet often breaks down into its constituent permutations. The wonderfully adept rhythmic tandem of Gress and Rainey ensures that the proceedings fall firmly under the free jazz banner, even when the brass players are at their most extreme. Alongside the expected timbral interplay, the second set emphasizes the more lyrical, harmonious, indeed jazzy aspects of the group. Consequently putting the two sessions together gives a fully rounded portrait of the band's capabilities, its constant reinventions, and consummate storytelling.

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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