Adam Rudolph/Go: Organic Orchestra
The Sound of a Dream
Meta Records META 014
Paradoxically as his sonic canvas has enlarged and his palate of instrumental shading has become more numerous, percussionist/composer/conductor Adam Rudolph appears to have produced a less promising creation than last time out. Although there’s much to admire in The Sound of a Dream, an 18-part suite, interpreted by 48 [!] musicians, ironically it seems to lack the organic fortitude that made Both/And, his previous release, so exceptional.
By nearly tripling the number of participant, there appears to literally be too many tones, rhythms and textures being advanced by too many musicians too much of the time. Similarly by evidentially cleaving closer to orchestral conventions albeit with more improvisational choices, too many of the tracks lack an overriding motif to sunder them together. You’re left wanting more; not in anticipation but for completion. Interestingly, but troubling as well, Rudolph doesn’t play on the session
Throughout, on tracks that last between slightly over 1½ minutes up to nearly seven minutes, different sequences and interludes are exposed, but in many cases lack sufficient time in which to make more than a primary point. Sometimes individual tracks concentrate on showcasing stop-time pizzicato plucks; in contrasting the multi-hued variations available from J.D. Parran’s contrabass clarinet with an ethnic transverse woodwind; or in capturing the contrapuntal effect of how one string player’s mandolin-like plucks mix with oboe slurs. But each sequence appears to be only a phrase rather than the connective sentence or paragraph needed to properly contribute to The Sound of a Dream’s narrative. At junctures mercurial reed expansions, rhythmic shudders from the percussion implements, chirping flutes and rubato sharpness from the strings resemble 20th century minimalist music. But neither a musical context nor a connection is audible for these formalized interludes. Furthermore, “Nascence”, the final track, is just that rather than a finale. As a wraps-up for loose ends it uncomfortably flanks Zé Luis Oliveira’s legato flute wisps with staccato fiddle stops and riffing horns to little avail.
More commendable are those sequences which take full advantage of the unanticipated textures from the European and non-western instruments put into close proximity. Among these tracks, which unlike parts of Duke Ellington’s or Charles Mingus’ extended works, lack the bones to stand on their own are showcase like “Love’s Light”, “Treelines” and “Dance Drama Part 3 (Red)”. On the first shaking bell patterns, steel drum-like reverb, Rock music licks from bass guitar, castanet clatter and vibration back-up acoustic guitarist Marco Cappelli’s elaboration of the theme. European romantic chivalry and Asiatic love potions are evoked soon afterwards, as the guitarist’s tone is contrasted and intertwined with erhu-like double stopping from violinist Charles Burnham.
Chris Dingman’s swinging vibraphone slaps help define “Dance Drama Part 3 (Red)”, when mixed with tremolo string crescendos and lead guitar runs from Kenny Wessel. Every orchestra members appears to contribute his or her instrumental timbre atop a never-ending battery of percussion bounces and ruffs. However the piece is still unceremoniously cut off. Finally atmospheric strings undulate, polytonal horn whistles flutter in the background as comping piano chords introduce and connect notable solos from Cappelli strumming and Jason Kao Hwang’s spiccato viola plucking.
It’s because of these flashes of exquisite work there’s every expectation that Rudolph will soon create a program for an ensemble of this size that will surpass The Sound of a Dream. Like Picasso’s works when he moved to from Cubism to individualized Classicism, Rudolph is allowed some missteps in a learning curve.
Track Listing: 1. Glimpse and Departure 2. Dance Drama Part 3 (Green) 3, Ambrosia Offering 4. Slip of Shadows 5. Lament and Remembrance 6. Love’s Light 7. White Sky, Black Clouds 8. Dance Drama Part 3 (Blue) 9. Treelines 10. Neither Mirage nor Death 11. To Rafter to Skylight 12. Murmur and Dust 13. Dance Drama Part 3 (Red) 14. Dance Drama Part 4 15. Wing Swept 16. Glow and Orbit 17. Dawn Redwoods. 18. Nascence
Personnel: Stephen Haynes (trumpet, cornet, conch, flugelhorn and alto horn); Graham Haynes (cornet, flugelhorn and ewart bamboo horn); Peck Allmond (trumpet, kalimba, peck horn and conch); Ted Daniel (trumpet and ewart bamboo horn); Peter Zummo (trombone, conch and didgeridoo); Steve Swell (trombone and ewart bamboo horn); Ned Rothenberg (B-flat and bass clarinet and shakuhachi); Avram Fefer and Ivan Barenboim (B-flat and bass clarinet and bamboo flutes); Charles Waters (Bb flat clarinet and bamboo flutes); David Rothenberg (B-flat clarinet and seljefløytes); J.D. Parran (E-flat contrabass clarinet, alto flute, ewart double flute and kalimba); Sylvain Leroux (tambin fulani flute, C-flute and bamboo flutes); Ralph Jones, Zé Luis Oliveira and Michel Gentile (C and alto flutes, bamboo flutes); Kaoru Watanabe (noh kan, fue and C-flute); Steve Gorn (bansuri flute and hichiriki); Peter Apfelbaum (C-flute, bamboo flutes, melodica, and bamboo saxophone); Batya Sobel (oboe, ocarina and arghul); Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon and sona); Sarah Bernstein, Charles Burnham,Trina Basu, Mark Chung, Elektra Kurtis, Curtis Stewart, Midori Yamamoto, Skye Steele and Rosemarie Hertlein (violin); Jason Kao Hwang (violin and viola); Stephanie Griffin (viola); Marika Hughes, Daniel Levin and Isabel Castela (cello); Alex Marcelo (piano); Kenny Wessel (guitar and banjo); Marco Cappelli (acoustic guitar); Chris Dingman (vibraphone); Janie Cowan (bass); Stuart Popejoy (acoustic bass guitar); Brahim Fribgane (cajon, tarija, oud and percussion); James Hurt (sogo, kidi, igbo bell and percussion); Matt Kilmer (frame drum, djembe, kanjira and percussion); Tim Kieper (dusun’goni, pandiero and percussion); Keita Ogawa (earth-tone drum, hadjira, pandeiro and percussion); Tripp Dudley (kanjira, cajon and percussion) and Adam Rudolph (conductor)
May 31, 2012
Marilyn Crispell David Rothenberg
One Dark Night I Left My Silent House
Chris Brown/Pauline Oliveros
Music in the Air
Deep Listening DL 43-2010
John Zorn/George Lewis/Bill Frisell
More News For Lulu
Marina Rosenfeld/George Lewis
Guelph Jazz Festival Highlights
By Ken Waxman
Characteristically adventurous, the 17th annual Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) September 8 to 12 presents respected sound explorers in novel musical situations.
Probably the most notable GJF visitor this year is American trombonist/composer George Lewis. On September 11 he’s part of a trio pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and multi-reedist Roscoe Mitchell on a double bill at the River Run Centre with the Sangam ensemble. Additionally throughout the festival, the MacDonald-Stewart Arts Centre hosts Ikons, which integrates computer software, created by Lewis, with Eric Metcalfe’s sculpture that reflect visitors’ movements. Sour Mash Innova 228, with Lewis and sound designer Marina Rosenfeld on dueling laptops, is an example of Lewis’ software programming, while More News For Lulu hatOLOGY 655, exhibits his trombone skill with guitarist Bill Frisell and alto saxophonist John Zorn.
Similar to Ikons, Sour Mash’s looped textures alter each time the composition is performed. On this version there’s no separation between the two creators’ input(s). Interspaced with episodes of sampled footfalls, mumbling voices and slide-whistle-like vibrations, the piece’s focus is on the sonic contrasts produced as both programs evolve simultaneously and languidly. Simmering and shimmying, buzzing sequences, blurry crackles and speedy whooshes share space with wind-chime-like pealing, watery bubbling and abrasive rustles. Defined with flanges and granulation, the processes evolve so that linkage is apparent, but with enough unexpected pauses, drones and beeps to keep the ever-shifting texture fascinating.
Equally fascinating is More News For Lulu. Here the trio provides an explicitly POMO take on 14 Hard Bop classics. Kenny Dorham’s Lotus Blossom for instance is reconstituted as Frissell’s gentle picking finally succumbs to the pressure from Zorn’s screeching altissimo runs and tongue slaps to introduce guitar neck-hand-tapping and amplifier buzzes. Meanwhile Lewis concentrates on a tremolo retelling of the head, which is eventually recapped by all three. Similarly Hank Mobley’s Peckin’ Time evolves in triple counterpoint with the saxophonist’s agitated lines mated with the trombonist’s moderato vibrations while the guitarist’s steady chording propels the narrative. Lewis’ strategy on other tunes such as John Patton’s Minor Swing consists of providing a huffing contrapuntal ostinato over which Zorn’s screeches thrust intensely. Braying upwards the trombonist eventually corner Frissell’s double-timed licks and the saxophonist’s split tones so that all three lines converge.
The pianism missing from this CD is present on One Dark Night I Left My Silent House ECM 2089 which matches pianist Marilyn Crispell with clarinetist David Rothenberg. Crispell plays solo in Cooperators Hall September 11. Here she tries various sonic strategies to partner Rothenberg, a philosopher/naturalist interested in bird songs. While no tone is wholeheartedly onomatopoeic, aviary allusions abound. On Still Life with Woodpeckers for example, Crispell strokes the piano’s inner strings and hits the instrument’s backboard and bottom frame with percussive taps as the clarinetist flutter tongues and chirps daintily. In contrast, on The Hawk and the Mouse, she sweeps across, plucks and strikes the strings as Rothenberg circles her cadences with growling obbligatos, snorts, honks and tongue slaps. Committed for the most part to parallel improvising, the two emphasize tonal connections. That’s why the moderato and andante Evocation references Impressionism, with the low-pitched reed line and the low-key octave patterning create what could be a neo-classical étude.
A so-called classical composer of the electro-acoustic variety, accordionist Pauline Oliveros plays twice at the GJF. On September 8, in Rozanski Hall, she and trio of Guelph musicians perform simultaneously via a telematic link with other improvisers in Bogotá, Colombia and Troy, N.Y. Then on September 11 at a yoga centre, Oliveros’ accordion timbres are transformed by using Expanded Instrument System (EIS) computer software. Examples of both her musical cooperation and programming skills show up on Music in the Air Deep Listening DL 43-2010. Here EIS and signal processing mutate the sounds from Oliveros’ conch shell, percussion and accordion plus Chris Brown’s piano. Recorded in real-time without overdubs, tracks such as Trohosphere demonstrate how granular synthesis comments on and alters the piano’s speedy glissandi plus slippery accordion smears. Spread across the audio surface, processed signals contrapuntally change the piano’s dynamics as well as adjust accordion timbres to staccato and dissonant. When auxiliary bellow pumps enter the mix alongside a flat-line conch drone, Brown almost replicates a formal composition, so intent is he on maintaining harmonic patterns without raising the volume. With the modifications sometimes depicting variants of previously sampled timbres, sharp string slaps and key pumps provide live tonal additions. Eventually the dense interface is resolved as quivering voltage ramps slide downwards, introducing octave jumps and pressure from both keyboards.
-- For Whole Note Vol. 16 #1
September 3, 2010