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Beatrix Ward-Fernandez: Trio

Glenn Astarita By

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The theremin—one of the granddads of electronic instruments—gets a serious uplift via this program, recorded live in real time to convey the inherent attributes of this waveform instrument, sans studio processing. The majority of these tracks were intended for release on the obscure Purple Note label, but are now issued on the U.K.-based, avant-jazz Discus-Music.

Theremin performer Beatrix Ward-Fernandez executes a rather holistic approach while delving into numerous genre-busting frameworks. She augments the session by using a Moog Etherwave pro Theremin and effects, although the familiar sound of this instrument is prevalent amid some wily electronics-based deviations.

Hornist Derek Saw covers the lower registers with his valve trombone, tuba and flugelhorn phrasings, as percussionist Charlie Collins reinforces the trio's largely asymmetrical rhythmic focus. Ward-Fernandez renders the somewhat customary, weeping or teary-eyed imagery of the Theremin, yet the band engages in curiously interesting forms of counterpoint amid gobs of timbre and daunting frameworks. Nonetheless, the musicians embark upon a nouveau modus operandi.

On "Maneuvers," the trio projects a hustle and bustle line of attack, complete with Saw's raspy horn parts and Collins' smack-dab mode of maintaining the flow, as Ward-Fernandez's slithery notes spawn bizarre imagery. "Simurg" is quite humanistic, as the band sojourns into playful minimalism. Otherwise, each track stands on its own. Unlike other cross-stylization outings where the Theremin serves as the lead instrument, listening fatigue does not become a negative factor here.

Within the scope of these fourteen works, the artists execute liquefying themes and a mid-tempo swing vamp, complete with a degenerating meltdown on "Tone Time." Their ingenuity and wit is also highlighted on "Hullabaloo," which sounds like they're communicating with aliens by way of shortwave radio transmissions. In various regions of sound and scope, they dish out avant-garde Sousa March motifs and chatty free jazz-based discourses.

It would be difficult to compare this album to anything in particular. That notion looms as just one of the many redeeming attributes of this infinitely creative and very listenable 2008 release.


Track Listing: T in T; Threnody for Delia; Phase four; Sixteen; Simurg; Lou and Bill Pari Passu; Tone Time; The Silent Life; Hullabaloo; A Peculiar Lustre; Mirador; Orthodoxy.

Personnel: Beatrix Ward-Fernandez: Theremin; Derek Saw: brass; Charlie Collins: percussion.

Title: Trio | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Discus-Music

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