JOHN LINDBERG

Ruminations on Ives and Gottschalk
Between the lines btl 025

Seven compositions joined together in a suite form this CD, honoring two idiosyncratic American classical composers, but featuring — not surprisingly — jazz players rather than members of the so-called serious music fraternity.

What do you expect? While classical snobs’ abhorrence of jazz as mere popular music is well known and exists to this day, the symphonic establishment has also never been particularly welcoming to visionary composers, especially of the non-European variety.

Thus it takes bassist John Lindberg, linchpin of the String Trio of New York and associate of jazzers ranging from drummer Andrew Cyrille to trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith to create music that honors his compositional and performance forefathers. Jazz inflections vie with classical virtuosity here, and true to musical miscegenation of North American sounds, Lindberg and company amplifies the pieces with Indian bansuri flutes, Chinese gongs and the Philippine kulintang.

Lesser known of the two honorees, Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869), was a New Orleans-born Creole world traveler, whose virtuosic piano playing gained him an enthusiastic following in Europe and the Americas. (He died in Brazil). Pan-American, he composed piano pieces, operas and orchestral work. The Yankee maverick Charles Edward Ives (1874-1954) was entrepreneurial enough to head up the country’s largest insurance brokerage. Yet his frequently humorous compositions for all sizes of ensembles were not only defiantly American, but used such devices as counterpoint, polytonality and polyrhythms long before they were accepted. Both composers led truncated artistic lives. Gottschalk had to leave the United States in 1865 following a scandal involving a female student. Ives, who suffered heart attacks and fits of depression, stopped writing after 1927. Performances of his works were infrequent until just before his death.

Although two of his compositions here directly refer to Gottschalk and Ives, Lindberg doesn’t crassly invoke any of their music. RUMINATIONS is definitely a suite though, with the first and final tracks assuming a circular continuum. Bouncy and vamp-like, the CD takes shape through instrumental virtuosity. Frequently expressing his time keeping, the bassist also opens up the tunes for the other members of the quartet. Moving confidently from the regular kit to the distinctive, junk store percussion sounds of Chinese gongs and kulintang or brass gongs, for instance, Susie Ibarra, who has enlivened the bands of saxophonist David S. Ware and John Zorn, mixes urban Free Jazz with new takes on traditional stylings.

That goes double for the contributions of Steve Gorn, who on bamboo flute, soprano saxophone and clarinet, draws from classical Indian and so-called World music as well as jazz to make his points. A film, television, dance and theatre composer, Gorn has recorded with folks as different as singer/songwriter Paul Simon and jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette. On “Yatan-Na”, for instance, his trebly, flatish Indian flute trills take little from the ongoing jazz interface. His soprano saxophone playing on “Implications” is ritualistic and middle-Eastern, almost Hebraic in its ney-like melancholy. Ibarra adds some Native Indian war party style drumming, while the ascending trumpet lead lines from Baikida Carroll appear to be ready to lead old country dances. An early associate of alto saxist Julius Hemphill, Carroll’s output here and elsewhere ranges from hard core to hard bop.

Nodding to a Gottschalk-composed hymn, “Spirit Great, Golden Shine” is all muted flugelhorn, soft woodwind tones and brush strokes. Definitely spiritual, the trumpeter’s open-horned grace notes soaring through the skies also bow to another spiritual-World music proponent, Don Cherry. Conveyed on taunt bass string pumps and what appears to be drumsticks banging the floor, “Generations” is a salute to Ives, who, like Lindberg, began in music playing snare drum in a brass band. Mid-range, legato clarinet passages from Gorn and clashing cymbals from Ibarra suggest the marching band tradition, while Carroll’s vocalized grace notes, gritty and circuitously emphasized, call upon the African-American tradition.

Then there’s “Beau Theme”, where resonating bass flute tones, subtly manipulated near-vibraharp timbres and andante, double-stopping bass lines make up the centre. Ibarra seems to be rattling attached chains when she isn’t manipulating the Southasian gongs. And Lindberg finally exhibits his virtuosity during a solo that moves from hushed, atmospheric strumming to strongman-like bass slapping à la New Orleans’ Pops Foster. Perhaps Foster’s shared birthplace with Gottschalk again emphasis the continuation of American music.

Want a further irony? This expressive CD, which is rootsy American down to its centrehole, is released on a German record label.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Powerful Reflections 2. Yatan-Na 3. Beau Theme 4. Spirit Great, Golden Shine 5. Generations 6. Implications 7. Upon Powerhouses

Personnel: Baikida Carroll (trumpet and flugelhorn); Seven compositions joined together in a suite form this CD, honoring two idiosyncratic American classical composers, but featuring — not surprisingly — jazz players rather than members of the so-called serious music fraternity.

What do you expect? While classical snobs’ abhorrence of jazz as mere popular music is well known and exists to this day, the symphonic establishment has also never been particularly welcoming to visionary composers, especially of the non-European variety.

Thus it takes bassist John Lindberg, linchpin of the String Trio of New York and associate of jazzers ranging from drummer Andrew Cyrille to trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith to create music that honors his compositional and performance forefathers. Jazz inflections vie with classical virtuosity here, and true to musical miscegenation of North American sounds, Lindberg and company amplifies the pieces with Indian bansuri flutes, Chinese gongs and the Philippine kulintang.

Lesser known of the two honorees, Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869), was a New Orleans-born Creole world traveler, whose virtuosic piano playing gained him an enthusiastic following in Europe and the Americas. (He died in Brazil). Pan-American, he composed piano pieces, operas and orchestral work. The Yankee maverick Charles Edward Ives (1874-1954) was entrepreneurial enough to head up the country’s largest insurance brokerage. Yet his frequently humorous compositions for all sizes of ensembles were not only defiantly American, but used such devices as counterpoint, polytonality and polyrhythms long before they were accepted. Both composers led truncated artistic lives. Gottschalk had to leave the United States in 1865 following a scandal involving a female student. Ives, who suffered heart attacks and fits of depression, stopped writing after 1927. Performances of his works were infrequent until just before his death.

Although two of his compositions here directly refer to Gottschalk and Ives, Lindberg doesn’t crassly invoke any of their music. RUMINATIONS is definitely a suite though, with the first and final tracks assuming a circular continuum. Bouncy and vamp-like, the CD takes shape through instrumental virtuosity. Frequently expressing his time keeping, the bassist also opens up the tunes for the other members of the quartet. Moving confidently from the regular kit to the distinctive, junk store percussion sounds of Chinese gongs and kulintang or brass gongs, for instance, Susie Ibarra, who has enlivened the bands of saxophonist David S. Ware and John Zorn, mixes urban Free Jazz with new takes on traditional stylings.

That goes double for the contributions of Steve Gorn, who on bamboo flute, soprano saxophone and clarinet, draws from classical Indian and so-called World music as well as jazz to make his points. A film, television, dance and theatre composer, Gorn has recorded with folks as different as singer/songwriter Paul Simon and jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette. On “Yatan-Na”, for instance, his trebly, flatish Indian flute trills take little from the ongoing jazz interface. His soprano saxophone playing on “Implications” is ritualistic and middle-Eastern, almost Hebraic in its ney-like melancholy. Ibarra adds some Native Indian war party style drumming, while the ascending trumpet lead lines from Baikida Carroll appear to be ready to lead old country dances. An early associate of alto saxist Julius Hemphill, Carroll’s output here and elsewhere ranges from hard core to hard bop.

Nodding to a Gottschalk-composed hymn, “Spirit Great, Golden Shine” is all muted flugelhorn, soft woodwind tones and brush strokes. Definitely spiritual, the trumpeter’s open-horned grace notes soaring through the skies also bow to another spiritual-World music proponent, Don Cherry. Conveyed on taunt bass string pumps and what appears to be drumsticks banging the floor, “Generations” is a salute to Ives, who, like Lindberg, began in music playing snare drum in a brass band. Mid-range, legato clarinet passages from Gorn and clashing cymbals from Ibarra suggest the marching band tradition, while Carroll’s vocalized grace notes, gritty and circuitously emphasized, call upon the African-American tradition.

Then there’s “Beau Theme”, where resonating bass flute tones, subtly manipulated near-vibraharp timbres and andante, double-stopping bass lines make up the centre. Ibarra seems to be rattling attached chains when she isn’t manipulating the Southasian gongs. And Lindberg finally exhibits his virtuosity during a solo that moves from hushed, atmospheric strumming to strongman-like bass slapping à la New Orleans’ Pops Foster. Perhaps Foster’s shared birthplace with Gottschalk again emphasis the continuation of American music.

Want a further irony? This expressive CD, which is rootsy American down to its centrehole, is released on a German record label.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Powerful Reflections 2. Yatan-Na 3. Beau Theme 4. Spirit Great, Golden Shine 5. Generations 6. Implications 7. Upon Powerhouses

Personnel: Baikida Carroll (trumpet and flugelhorn); Steve Gorn (bansuri flutes, clarinet, and soprano saxophone); John Lindberg (bass); Susie Ibarra (Chinese tuned gongs, kulingtang, percussion, and drums)

(bansuri flutes, clarinet, and soprano saxophone); John Lindberg (bass); Susie Ibarra (Chinese tuned gongs, kulingtang, percussion, and drums)