234

Frank Carlberg: Uncivilized Ruminations

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist/composer Frank Carlberg continues to perfect his distinctive blend of poetry and left-of-center jazz. Carlberg does it together with a stellar cast of close collaborators; most important of them is vocalist Christine Correra, with whom he has been collaborating for two decades. Both have performed poetry by Wallace Stevens on Variations on a Summer Day (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2000); Jack Kerouac, Robert Creeley, and others on In the Land of Art State of the Union (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2006); and exclusively on Creeley with The American Dream (Red Piano, 2008).

On the masterful Uncivilized Ruminations, Carlberg returns to works by his fellow countrymen—Hollo and Kai Nieminen (translated by Hollo)—with one poem by novelist/poet Jim Gustafson. The poetry is characterized by a trenchant humor, a bit of absurdity, and bittersweet reflections on reality. Carlberg and Correa succeed in staging these short poems as brief and playful theatrical plays that clarify the poems' postures and insights into reality.

"Lunatics"—using text from an 1852 medical journal about the common causes of lunacy in males—features Correa's distinctive comic performance, which adds a contemporary political criticism to this shortlist of causes, and a propulsive rhythm section led by Carlberg, bassist John Hébert and drummer Michael Sarin. Hollo's "it was all about..." is an abbreviated flash-fiction, ironical retelling of the legend of Tristan and Isolde, performed as a Kurt Weill-esque swinging ballad, with a beautiful soprano sax solo by John O'Gallagher.

Nieminen's short poems "Old Age," "Posthumous Success," "Misanthrope" and "Don't Rush Me" are read like tongue-in-cheek haikus. All four, performed one after the other, enable the ensemble to highlight the comic, paradoxical insights through inventive interplay. Gustafson's "Perfect" is sharp satire on ego obsession, presented as a swinging song based on the tight rhythm section.

Hollo's "Prairie Dogs" poetically criticizes the economic exploitative system championed by the U.S.A., introduced by Hébert's impressive solo and Sarin's spare cymbals work, stressing the poem's deep concerns. Hollo's concluding poem, "Pygmy Hut," feature an extraordinary duet between Correa and Sarin, with brief accompaniment by the rest of the ensemble, whose inventive power brings to mind the late Steve Lacy's musical adaptations of Brion Gysin poems on Songs (Hat Hut, 1990)—in particular the inimitable duet of the poet with drummer Oliver Johnson on "Luvzya."

A remarkable and inspiring project.

Track Listing: Lunatics; "It Was All About..."; Old Age; Posthumous Success; Misanthrope; Don't Ruse Me; Perfect; Prairie Dogs; Pygmy Hut.

Personnel: Christine Correa: voice; John O'Gallagher; saxophones; Chris Cheek: tenor saxophone; Frank Carlberg: piano; John Hébert: bass; Michael Sarin: drums.

Title: Uncivilized Ruminations | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Red Piano Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Christmas With Champian" CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Moon Trio: Earth-Time" CD/LP/Track Review Moon Trio: Earth-Time
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Alchemist" CD/LP/Track Review Alchemist
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 1, 2017
Read "Mu'U" CD/LP/Track Review Mu'U
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 6, 2017
Read "Ask Seek Knock" CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "Feefifofum Quartet" CD/LP/Track Review Feefifofum Quartet
by James Nadal
Published: July 9, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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