Lung Tree
ReR USA ReR RDD LC-02677

Although only one track on this CD is entitled “Walking Ruminations”, the phrase could serve as a description of the overall disc. Cerebral ahead of anything else, the minimalist LUNG TREE moodily reflects the three instrumentalists’ reductionist principles, not musical story telling, joyous celebration nor rhythmic release. Full appreciation may depend on a certain bloodlessness on the part of the listeners as well. But taken on its restricted harmonic terms, the CD is outstanding.

Frequently skirting New music’s version of timbre, pitch and structure, the nine instant compositions are rarely jazz-like. But such definitions don’t concern the participants. All move freely between the notated and improv world.

Bay area keyboardist Eric Glick Reiman for instance, has performed with composers as different as Cecil Taylor and James Tenney. Additionally in 2002, he was part of a recorded, memorable first-time improv meeting with guitarist Fred Frith, fiddler Carla Kihlstedt and trumpeter Lesli Dalaba, the last of whom is also featured on this disc.

On LUNG TREE Reiman concentrates on the textures that can be wrung from his prepared and reassembled Rhodes piano, extended with mics and pick-ups. These extended techniques certainly don’t faze his associates. A Seattle-based acupuncture and Chinese Medicine practitioner as well as a trumpeter, Dalaba associations have also been diverse, ranging from composer LaMonteYoung to membership in guitarist Eliot Sharp’s Carbon band. An academic, who is a leading figure in the development of trombone technique and performance, Stuart Dempster is not only a member of the Deep Listening Band with composer/accordionist Pauline Oliveros, but produces that band’s recordings.

Except for one solo outing on acoustic piano where Reiman plays like a tranquil Cecil Taylor, the Rhodes is in use on every track, with its varied textures polyphonically brushing up against the timbres of the two brasses. Frequently buoyed by the vibe-like ratcheting of the electric piano, the trumpeter’s output touches on Miles Davis’ electric period, although its resolute lack of funk is only equaled by Reiman’s waveform modulations. Where other trumpeter’s notes are slinky, Dalaba’s are unselfconsciously stumpy, and where others’ playing stance would be upfront and jagged, hers is defiantly distant and horizontal.

She does indulge in the occasional plunger chorus, whinnies and tremolos, but much of that, as well as most of the percussive ostinato is left to Dempster’s low-pitched ‘bone, didjeridu or garden hose [!]. Concurrently though, his in-and-out of focus drones not only expand into double counterpoint with the trumpeter’s input, but do the same with the keyboardist’s adagio chording of almost equal temperament.

Unrushed and adagio LUNG TREE’s tunes build up and blend with pointillism. However there’s no sense of gaps among the dots of color. In fact, so closely do the three match one another’s organized harmonics that polyphonic timbres appear almost orchestrated. One may wish that resonating friction was more apparent from Reiman’s keys or bell ringing ring modulator signals; or that the brass duo would enliven more than one track with mouthpiece sucking and curlicue grace notes, yet a mutual agreement on comforting understatement is the name of the game here.

Disciplined and secure in their choice, the three improvisers have created an ingenious CD that avoids jazz-inflected conventions, but still manages to move without freezing into musical cryogenics.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Opening credits/resolve 2. The dock-red ice 3. Walking ruminations 4. Timbral shift 10. Coward’s line/lobby bar 5. Bed shadows into sleep 6. Walking by the refinery 7. Dissolution and redemption animals (dreams) 8. Morning light through smokestacks 9. Talking into the wind

Personnel: Lesli Dalaba (trumpet); Stuart Dempster (trombone, didjeridu, garden hose etc.); Eric Glick Reiman (extended, modified and prepared Rhodes electric piano, piano, stomp boxes, MOTM modular synthesizer)