466

David Rothenberg: Whale Music

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count
David Rothenberg: Whale Music Composer and academe David Rothenberg covered fascinating ground in his 2005 book and CD Why Birds Sing (Terra Nova), examining the functions of bird songs and employing them in his music, recording with a variety of birds around the world. To follow that up, Rothenberg has spent time working with another famed animal singer. Whale Music, a companion CD to his recent book Thousand Mile Song (Basic Books), is a set of clarinet pieces (with some additional instrumentation) set to recordings of whales singing.

He does a commendable job complementing and reinterpreting the whales' songs on his clarinet, duetting primarily with humpbacks and belugas and balancing between imitating their sounds and retaining his own instrumental voice. He wisely does not make this an ambient, new age album, but instead accentuates the musical qualities of the underwater cries, adding occasional guitar, violin or keyboard to make human collaborations. The duets come off as joint improvisations—and in fact some of them are, recorded with microphones and speakers both above and below water so that the whales—intentionally participating or not—could hear and potentially react to the music being made. Others are studio creations, nicely setting the whales into a group construct.

Central to what makes Whale Music work is the fact that Rothenberg approaches each of the 12 tracks as a composer. The pieces vary considerably and, with one exception, work quite well. The disc ends with "The World's Last Whale," an ill-advised spoken piece with a wispy Dylan cadence which is the only thing here that borders on the one-world spirituality the whole project threatens. But it is easily forgiven in the context of an otherwise original and largely successful album.


Track Listing: Valentine's Day 1992; Never Satisfied; The Far Field; Whiteness of the Beast; Duo Orcananda; The Killer; Moby Click; And She Married a Whale; Beluga No Believe in Tears; Koholaa!; The World's Last Whale.

Personnel: David Rothenberg: reeds, vocals, keyboards; Robert Jurgendal: guitar; Nils Okland: violin; John Wieczorek: percussion; Michelle Malarsli: violin.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Terra Nova | Style: Beyond Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Canto América" CD/LP/Track Review Canto América
by James Nadal
Published: March 7, 2016
Read "Sanctuary" CD/LP/Track Review Sanctuary
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 16, 2016
Read "Skronky Tonk" CD/LP/Track Review Skronky Tonk
by James Nadal
Published: June 18, 2016
Read "Sol Boricua" CD/LP/Track Review Sol Boricua
by James Nadal
Published: April 30, 2016
Read "Instant Oats" CD/LP/Track Review Instant Oats
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 18, 2016
Read "Blue Canvas" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Canvas
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 4, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

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!