31 October, 2013


Oscar Peterson - The Good Life (1973)

Oscar Peterson - The Good Life (1973)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 275MB
OJC20 627-2, 20bit remastered
Taken from the same live sessions that resulted in The Trio, this CD reissue of a Pablo album features three remarkable virtuosos: pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Joe Pass, and bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen. Although not quite reaching the heights of the other set, this CD features some typically extraordinary solos and interplay from these musicians. Highlights include Peterson's "Wheatland," the blues "For Count" (which is referred to in the liner notes as "Miles"), and "The Good Life."

. "Wheatland" (Oscar Peterson) – 12:17
. "Wave" (Antonio Carlos Jobim) – 10:46
. "For Count" (Peterson) – 6:49
. "The Good Life" (Sacha Distel, Jack Reardon) – 7:12
. "On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)" (Burton Lane, Alan Jay Lerner) – 7:44

* Oscar Peterson – piano
* Joe Pass – guitar
* Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen – double bass


30 October, 2013


Morton Feldman - For John Cage (1997)

Morton Feldman - For John Cage (1997)
avantgarde, contemporary | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 275MB
hat[now]ART 124
Morton Feldman's For John Cage, written in the final phase of his career, is, typically for this period, a long work, almost 70 minutes. It is atypical, however, when one considers on how few occasions he actually wrote for this particular pairing of instruments: In 1951 there were "Extensions 1" and "Projections IV"; in 1963, he produced "Vertical Thoughts"; and again in 1978 he composed "Spring of Chosroes." The reasons are varied, but the one constant that runs through these works is how Feldman's palette of sonances, timbres, and textures could be achieved more forcefully by using these two instruments in his quest for "stasis." This term refers in Feldman's vocabulary to the effect achieved by the visual art of Mark Rothko and Philip Guston. In For John Cage, Feldman sets the piece in three movements where a minimum of notes are written in patters, played in varying time signatures, over and again, in slightly altered combinations of chords and tones. They are consistently modified to vary textural, polytonal, and even perceptual degrees, but never to the point of any linear modulation or scheme. For John Cage may repeat each sequence of notes -- in limited range -- and repeat them asymmetrically or symmetrically, this distinction doesn't matter to Feldman, who felt that if he could just achieve "stasis" within his music, the question would forever be in his words "held in abeyance." These patterned sections proceed from one another without reorganization or discernable system. But then, this work, as in all of Feldman's middle and late pieces, was about the relationships between note and silence and instruments and tones. For John Cage, meant to be played by both performers and listened to at barely audible volume, established enough displacement to achieve a kind of stasis in sound and in its relationship to the greater stasis: silence. Despite the seemingly endless academic theorizing he involved in his work, Feldman's music, and it's concern with gentleness, stillness, is music of great, if subtly expressed, emotion. Inspired by one of his longest personal and professional relationships, For John Cage is perhaps his most haunting and beautifully wrought for all of its alien construction and perceptual ambiguity. Indeed, it appears as if Feldman were, at the end of his life, attempting to free music from the only thing that weighted it to earth: itself.

1. I. - 25:17
2. II. - 20:37
3. III. - 23:18

* Josje Ter Haar - violin
* John Snijders - piano


25 October, 2013


Christian Wallumrod 2005 - The Zoo is Far

Christian Wallumrod - The Zoo is Far (2005)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 320MB
ECM 171 7820
Norwegian pianist and composer Christian Wallumrød has been experimenting with various sonorities and musical colors since his first trio recording for ECM, No Birch in 1998. That group contained the roots of this one with trumpeter Arve Henricksen and percussionist/drummer Per Oddvar Johansen. Saxophonist Trygve Seim made the group a quartet for 2005's A Year from Easter. The pieces juxtaposed improvisation against tightly constructed themes and melodies, using the interval as the chief vehicle for moving, ever slowly, from one place to another. On The Zoo Is Far, Wallumrød has dropped the saxophone entirely, but created a sextet by adding three string players who include Giovanna Pessi on Baroque harp (an instrument that is constructed differently from the contemporary classical instrument and has a deeper lower register), violinist Gjermund Larsen, and cellist Tanja Orning. The music here is in some ways radically different. Most of these 24 pieces are short and draw from some Baroque sources, most keenly Henry Purcell's "Fantasias," the long psalmist tradition in Norwegian sacred music, and even Pakistani music. Where improvisation is present, it is within tightly scripted parameters. The reason is that Wallumrød is interested more in textures, shapes, and tonality. Oftentimes it is difficult for the listener to pick out individual instruments. The melodies come out of sonority, as well as the use of intervals to gradually shift through one theme into another apart from basic lyric structures.
Indeed, most of these pieces are even grouped in alternating patterns to give the work a patchwork quilt feel, though no one work jars uncomfortably against another. Whether it is in the series of "Fragments," "Psalms," or the "Backwards Henry" (Purcell, of course) works, the sense of space and silence is the same, blending the individual pieces rather than simply juxtaposing them. During The Zoo Is Far's 70-minute duration, there are tracks that do stand out, such as the elegiac "Music for One Cat," where the lower registers of the harp, piano, and cello are blended almost symbiotically with the bass drum. Dissonance has its place here, but it carries no edges, such as on "Fragment No. 6," where the restrained tensions (the piano is in pianissimo for much of it) and the violin rise up from that silence to strike back at something in that chord pattern. One of the more delightful selections here is "Archdance with Trumpet," in which Henricksen plays his instrument nearly like some kind of flute; its sound is full of air and darkness, as Wallumrød plays repetitive -- nearly minimalist in structure -- patterns of single and double notes that bleed into and through one another, creating four chords from the echo of three. The hint of a glockenspiel is heard near the top of the mix. But it, too, is mysterious and ethereal. In contrast, the sketchy "Fragment No. 1" is outside the middle registers and rises from lower to middle on harp, violin, and piano. Henricksen plays these notes as well, but they are not immediately distinguishable. The final cut, "Allemande Es," seeks to combine virtually everything here in a very slow-moving, nearly murky piece. The sense of Baroque pomp asserts itself in the backdrop and in processional form, where the sharply juxtaposed tonalities of the "Fragments" are used in the spaces. Still more, the sense of the sacred that comes from the "Psalms" permeate the work, offering an anchored place for the music to unfold from and move back toward.
The Zoo Is Far is far from being an academic recording, though the music is studied. To listen to The Zoo Is Far in the abstract is almost like hearing Stephane Mallarme's poetry; it contains those elements of lines that carry over, stopping just shy of collision with others, or of those disappearing into another so that the poem reads as a whole instead of as a series of lines -- the musicality is in the language itself. It is nearly impossible to take in the entire recording at one sitting; it distracts you from whatever you are doing instead and draws you inside its sometimes eerie, sometimes utterly moving flow. Manfred Eicher's production, with its reliance on space, silence, and merely the hint of reverb, assures a snug and warm fit with the ECM aesthetic -- but more than this, Wallumrød is composing from an entirely different place than most. His attention to sonority and quiet, and the disappearance of sounds (even as they form melodies and lyric shapes) is not that far removed from the preoccupation of the late Morton Feldman with the disintegration of form, though his approach to it is entirely different. Wallumrød isn't trying to do away with form, but is looking to break it down enough to create something else, something clearly not definable from its parts. The Zoo Is Far is a major step for Wallumrød compositionally, and a major boon to anyone willing to encounter it on its own entirely strange but immediately accessible terms.

01. Nash Lontano
02. Backwards Henry II
03. Parkins Cembalo
04. Fragment no. 6
05. Psalm Kvæn, solo
06. Fragment no. 2
07. Music For One Cat
08. Arch Dance
09. Psalm Kvæn, tutti
10. The Zoo Is Far
11. Fragment no. 7
12. Backwards Henry I
13. Fragment no. 3
14. Detach A
15. Need Elp
16. Psalm Kvæn, trio
17. Detach B
18. Backwards Henry With Drums
19. Arpa
20. Detach C
21. Arch Dance With Trumpet
22. Fragment no. 1
23. Psalm Kvæn, quartet
24. Allemande Es

* Christian Wallumrød - Piano, Harmonium, Toy Piano
* Arve Henriksen - Trumpet
* Gjermund Larsen - Violin, Hardanger Fiddle, Viola
* Tanja Orning - Cello
* Giovanna Pessi - Baroque Harp
* Per Oddvar Johansen - Drunms, Percussion, Glockenspiel


03 October, 2013


Steve Tibbetts - Steve Tibbetts (1977)

Steve Tibbetts - Steve Tibbetts (1977)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 195MB
Cuneiform 55009
At once his most accessible work and also very experimental, Tibbetts' first album was released independently in 1976 before being picked up by Frammis. He began recording it while an art student at Macalaster College in Minnesota in the electronic music studio of the school on a four-track recorder. Still working on the album when he graduated, he ended up finishing it clandestinely late at night by sneaking into the school. The resulting album of totally self realized songs is great fun to listen to, as he used the studio as an instrument, mixing tape loops and effects with impressionistic acoustic guitar playing. Even at this young age, he's equally at home with finger style guitar, psychedelic and world musics, and the soundscapes he creates are both introspective and adventurous. Highly recommended.

-1. "Sunrise" - 4:14
-2. "The Secret" - 4:49
-3. "Desert" - 4:39
-4. "The Wonderful Day" - 2:20
-5. "Gong" - 1:43
-6. "Jungle Rhythm" - 5:37
-7. "Interlude" - 1:52
-8. "Alvin Goes to Tibet" - 4:16
-9. "How Do You Like My Buddha?" - 5:06

* Steve Tibbetts - Instruments, tape effects, vocals and engineering
* Tim Weinhold - percussion



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