November 21, 2006
Pine Ear Music PEM 001
By Ken Waxman
Firmly in the genre of jazz chamber music, Intersections shows off another facet of the prodigious skills of Seattle-born, New York-based bassist Reuben Radding. Someone whose past recordings usually find him involved in no-holds-barred improv with the likes of Seattle alto saxophonist Wally Shoup or Manhattan multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter, this CD exposes a less frenetic, but no less memorable side of his playing and composing skills.
Featuring six Radding originals, two group improvisations and the bassists arrangement of Olivier Messiaens Dance of Fury which hardly sounds wrathful most pieces move at a pace between adagio and andante and are replete with enough silences to cast the circumspect textures in bolder relief.
With his cohorts vibraphonist Matt Moran, who plays in drummer John Hollenbecks bands and the Slavic Soul Party, plus clarinetist Oscar Noriega, who has been featured in bands led by reedist Assif Tsahar and pianist Sato Fujii among others, Intersections can be heard as an updating of two of jazzs pre-eminent chamber ensembles of the 1950s and 1960s. Substitute a guitar for the clarinet and theres the personnel as vibist Red Norvos trio; replace the drummer with guitarist or a pianist and clarinetist Jimmy Giuffres 3 is replicated.
While this may recital improv, this doesnt mean that strength and roughness has been traded for weakness and static. For a start most of the patterned expositions rest on the thick pummeling and sul ponticello slices from Raddings bull fiddle, not unlike Charles Mingus motivated the Norvo Three from the bottom. Furthermore when not sounding repeated motifs in well-space double counterpoint, the other instruments reveal atypical techniques.
Siren, for example, has Morans half-speed, ringing keys making common cause with focused, accordion-like squeals from the clarinet. The slightly quicker Jaspers Lies features unpressurized obbligatos from Noriega and descending not patterns fro the vibist. And in Marginal Way, the fluttering, mid-range mellow textures are sabotaged with cavity reflecting timbres from the reed and rattling tam-tam-like rattling of Moran. If the Giuffre3 referenced a Debussy sonata, then the sparse dissonance of more modern composers affect the Radding 3.
Close cooperation is the key phrase. Most noticeable is the use of broken chords on Making Certain It Goes On and triple counterpoint on North. The contrapuntal coloring of the first is such that each resonated note is followed closely by an equally reverberated timbre from another instrument and then the third, culminating in Noriegas chalumeau runs and Raddings commanding percussiveness. The later interrupts he sessions usual lope to introduce buzzing near-electronic sounds perhaps from Moran that quickly form themselves into fluttering waveforms. With the bassists low-pitched tremolo actions providing the base, the harmonies seem only nodes apart as they work their way to adjacent polyphony.
Intersections proves that there can be as much drama and excitement in diminutive chamber improv as from boisterous arena or concert hall sounds.
In MusicWorks Issue #96