Great Waitress

Flock
Creative Sources CS 234 CD

Embedded in the genre, which for lack of more precise identification is usually classified as reductionist, the multinational Great Waitress trio creates a program that is knotty as well as enticing. Overall the two improvisations here meld mesmerizing textures and time dislocation to play havoc with structure. However while common definitions of compositional order and instrumental conventions are put aside for collegial interface, there’s never a question that sounds are flowing chromatically or any loss of musical individuality

Organized in 2009, the trio combined the probing playing of Berlin-based pianist Magda Mayas, who has worked with the likes of saxophonist John Butcher and drummer Tony Buck, with an existing duo that had evolved from Sydney Australia’s Splinter Orchestra. Clarinetist Laura Altman is a composer with an interest in Balkan and electro-acoustic music, while accordionist Monica Brooks also composes for multiple computers as well as performing with such Aussie improv heavy hitters as vibist Dale Gorfinkel and flutist Jim Denley.

Although the textures that make up this Flock contain no computer processing, there are times that a combination of Mayas’ soundboard echoes and Brooks’ tremolo quivers join to create a solid ostinato. Meanwhile on “Rite” internal string scratches, pressurized tones forced through the clarinet and squeeze box whistles add enough grain to the surface so that the resulting interface doesn’t come across as a monolith. In fact, eventually the crackles, whistles and wheezes swell to a crescendo then dissolve slowly as if air is being let out of several balloons. Elsewhere, quaking timbres that are equal parts ringing key clanks, wet clarinet vibrations and treble accordion squeezes confirm instrumental identity on “Sownder”. More conventionally musical, the piece allows the three players to harmonize, with at one point the pianist’s string striking and chording making an individual impression until it too turns to pseudo-oscillations before the ending.

More sounds that create their own sonic definitions, the menu proffered by these Waitresses may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it certainly fascinates in novelty and experimentation.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Rite 2. Sownder

Personnel: Laura Altman (clarinet); Magda Mayas (piano) and Monica Brooks (accordion)