106

Kent Carter String Trio: The Willisau Suites

Clifford Allen By

Sign in to view read count
Kent Carter String Trio: The Willisau Suites To hear bassist Kent Carter on this '84 recording (augmented with two '97 tracks) is to hear the bassist in an entirely different context than anything his work with Steve Lacy and Paul Bley would belie. Always an artist with a penchant for strengthening an ensemble and its collective voice, Carter has comprised his ostensibly "solo" work of exercises and experiments documenting his search for a unified string conception in a group context. The use of overdubbed parts on everything from Ligeti-esque soundmasses to Eastern European folk explorations on his '74 Emanem recording, Beauvais Cathedral, point directly to Carter as something more than a sideman.

Of late featuring Albrecht Maurer and Emmanuelle Roch on violin and viola, respectively, the Trio in this early incarnation consists of Carter, Portuguese violinist Carlos Zingaro (who has since become a mainstay of the Lisbon free music scene), and French violist Francois Dreno. One of the most noticeable things about this string configuration is the replacement of the usual cello with the bass (and Carter is an accomplished cellist as well). The bottom end is thus more deeply felt, the range of the trio's voice thereby increased, and a definite orchestral weight has been added.

Thus, Carter's introductory "Dance Suite" can (and does) sound like a Michael Nyman or Rachel Grimes piece for string orchestra. This first piece is a slippery beast, and heralds an aesthetic that is carried for the entirety of the record: passages of chugging minimalist anthems alternate with harmonic rest stops and wily solos from Zingaro and Dreno. It seems safe to assume that music like this is through-composed, but therein lies the difficulty: the trio slides so effortlessly between improvisation and composition that they have, in fact, become one and the same.

Bartok and Kodaly run free through the streets in the caterwauling "Hungarian Fantasy," while Carla Bley's "Violin" is slowed down and elongated to the level of pastoral "nachtmusik," worlds away from its usual piano trio environment. Carter's involvement with dance and dancers (his wife, Michela Marcus, is a renowned dancer/choreographer) is a thread running through the entirety of this recording; though two pieces are themselves titled "dance pieces," from the overture of "Dance Suite" to the vicious freedom that opens "Image Suite," the feeling of motion, of leaps and pirouettes, of held poses as long harmonic tones, pervades every phrase in this trilogue of music.

String-derived chamber jazz ensembles like the Revolutionary Ensemble and the String Trio of New York are still decidedly jazz-oriented, but Carter and his cohorts are onto something different entirely. This outfit has carved out a niche for improvisation in the tradition of Eastern European string music, doors possibly thought of in late Bartok quartets and those of the postwar tradition, but not fully opened until recently. Never would one think they would have been opened so forcefully.


Track Listing: Dance Suite; Dialogue for Violin and Viola; Hungarian Fantasy; Violin; Dance Music Image Suite; Our Waltz; Willisau Suite #1; Broken Clusters; A Ballad.

Personnel: Kent Carter (b); Carlos Zingaro (vln); Francois Dreno (vla); Albrecht Maurer (vln, "Broken Clusters" and "A Ballad" only); Emmanuelle Roch (vla, "Broken Clusters" and "A Ballad" only).

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Emanem | Style: Beyond Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Louisiana Soul Revival Featuring Doug Duffey" CD/LP/Track Review Louisiana Soul Revival Featuring Doug Duffey
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "Lingo" CD/LP/Track Review Lingo
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 10, 2017
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 24, 2017
Read "Zero To 60" CD/LP/Track Review Zero To 60
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 24, 2016
Read "Honey For The Biscuit" CD/LP/Track Review Honey For The Biscuit
by James Nadal
Published: August 13, 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!