186

Ned Rothenberg: The Lumina Recordings

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count
Ned Rothenberg: The Lumina Recordings Reed and wind instrumentalist Ned Rothenberg is an almost frighteningly talented musician and composer. Without the charismatic approach of other downtown players—people like John Zorn and Elliott Sharp, who borrowed from different genres to define their sound—Rothenberg's focus has been on mastering his instrument. And despite his humble statement of hearing a "not yet fully formed voice, included in the liner notes [applicable only to "Trials of Argo" to this collection of self-released recordings from 1980 to 1985, what is apparent some twenty years later is that Rothenberg is still concerned with the same thing: the creation of a virtuosic voice within—not on top of—a variety of musical settings and ideas.

Most of the dozen pieces here, culled from three records on his Lumina label, are unaccompanied and were created early in Rothenberg's years in New York while he was woodshedding and beginning to play solo concerts. The variety of moods he creates on a monophonic instrument is just astounding. Most of the pieces are for alto saxophone, with a few devoted to bass clarinet or a custom-built double ocarina. But a few tracks also capture duo playing, making this a valuable document of the early days of the downtown scene as well. "Polysemy is a fantastic piece of work, with Gerry Hemingway playing steel drum (in addition to trap kit); and "Kakeai is a good dose of saxophone skronk, with Zorn also playing alto.

Of particular interest is the opening track, the 22-minute "Trials of the Argo, a studio construction which pairs his horn with recordings of Bob Ostertag's analog synthesizer and Jim Katzin's violin (the three had come to New York in 1978 as the Fall Mountain trio). Also included are three previously unreleased bass clarinet tracks from 1991 and 1998—two featuring real-time processing of Rothenberg's playing by David Weinstein—that show his continued interest in subsuming into sonic ideas, rather than vamping on them.

It's the rare musician who can pull off solo performance without simply displaying chops. These newly available recordings show Rothenberg to be very much of that breed.


Track Listing: Trials of the Argo; Continuo After the Inuit; Portal; Polysemy; Caeneus; Strata; Trespass.

Personnel: Gerry Hemingway: steel drum, trap kit; Ned Rothenberg: alto saxophone, bass clarinet, processed bass clarinet, soprano double ocarina, woodwinds, trap set, homemade instruments; David Weinstein: live digital signal processing; John Zorn: alto saxophone.

Title: The Lumina Recordings | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Tzadik


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Conversations" CD/LP/Track Review Conversations
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 15, 2017
Read "Mortality" CD/LP/Track Review Mortality
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Meet Me At Minton's" CD/LP/Track Review Meet Me At Minton's
by James Nadal
Published: June 17, 2017
Read "Summergold Promises" CD/LP/Track Review Summergold Promises
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 10, 2016
Read "Blow + Beat" CD/LP/Track Review Blow + Beat
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 8, 2017
Read "Apocalypse" CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.