Pauline Oliveros & James Ilgenfritz

January 24, 2023

Infrequent Seams 30

Two variations of the music of American accordionist Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016) as composer and improviser are presented here under the aegis of New York bassist James Ilgenfritz. Ilgenfritz., who has worked with the likes of Miya Masaoka, duets with Oliveros on four variations of “Altamirage”. He, trumpeter Stephanie Richards and accordionist Nathan Kocic perform “Trio For Trumpet, Accordion, and String Bass”, an older piecer by Oliveros, who was a pioneering electro-acoustic composer. Meanwhile, Ilgenfritz’s double bass skill is featured alongside percussionist Chris Nappi and flutist Martha Cargo on the extended “Outline: for Flute, Percussion and String Bass”.

More interpretative than virtuosic, the playing on “Outline:..” contrast yearning flute peeps with speedy string glissandi, woody marimba echoes and cymbal clanks. As the piece evolves horizontally, expressive interaction occurs as kettle drum thumps and flute puffs underline thin but melodic string stops. Emphasis on “Trio…” is mostly on Richards’ portamento expression as she moves from bugling squalls to buzzing sibilation. But even as she displays brassy triplets and muted smears the exposition depends on responses from bowed bass lines and a summation involving tremolo washes from the accordion.

On the other hand, Oliveros’ whistling MIDI accordion stops are more upfront on “Altamirage” amplifying and fragmenting her shrill squeaky tone to challenge percussive string rubs and thumps. Yet when the theme is picked up again with “Altamirage V” any jiggling polka-like references are traded for multiphonics from both players that are stretched and oscillated so that both hollow and holistic inferences predominate. By the final variations, the bassist’s ground string strokes emphasis his instrument’s woody power, with pressurized pulses easily matching the accordionist’s mechanized rushes. Eventually Oliveros’ expressive tremolo waves straightens the interaction so that Ilgenfritz’s measured stops, which stretch from near the scroll to the spike, are logically integrated leading to polyrhythmic projections which squeeze away to silence.

Amplified by the other players’ interpretations, Oliveros’ talents are properly displayed here, with each person’s contributions as necessary for the program as original ideas.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Outline: for Flute, Percussion and String Bass^ 2. Altamirage I+ 3. Trio For Trumpet, Accordion, and String Bass I* 4. Trio For Trumpet, Accordion, and String Bass II* 5. Trio For Trumpet, Accordion, and String Bass III* 6, Trio For Trumpet, Accordion, and String Bass IV*7. Trio For Trumpet, Accordion, and String Bass V* 8. Altamirage+ V 9. Altamirage IV+ 10. Altamirage III+

Personnel: Stephanie Richards (trumpet)*; Martha Cargo (flute)^; Nathan Koci (accordion)*; Pauline Oliveros (MIDI accordion)+; James Ilgenfritz (bass) and Chris Nappi (percussion)^