Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Jason Robinson, Solo Sax and Live Electronics
OK, Jason Robinson has released three excellent albums lately. There's the stunning duet disk with Anthony Davis (see this blog, below), there's the powerful sextet date (see yesterday's posting on my Gapplegate Guitar blogsite) and then there's his solo date Cerberus Reigning (Accretions 1), which is what we are about today.
In some ways this last piece of the three-chunk puzzle of Mr. Robinson the musician today is the most astonishing. It's just Jason on tenor, soprano, the gorgeous alto flute, and computer. The computer part enables real-time electronic alteration and augmentation, made possible by Ableton Live software and something Jason names as Cycling '74's Max/MSP. There's also a program he calls "Synchronous Aether." It evaluates the live music signal as it is made, and based on various parameters provides a complementary electronic voice to what is going on at any given time.
What you get with all this is some very interesting music. Jason plays compelling solo and/or structural-melodic cells on his various winds and electronically a kind of all-Jason orchestra appears as the end sonic result.
These sorts of exercises can sound random or they can sound disjointed. None of that here. Mr. Robinson has conceived of the music carefully so that it has movement, flow, contrast and memorability.
It is one of the most effective, musically fulminous and pleasurably contrasting programs I have ever heard in the solo & electronics realm. I think even people who don't think they like electronics will be forced to reconsider. That's their business though. For me, this is first-rate music. I'd say it is a tour de force, but that's become the cliche of critic's phrases. It's a tour de Robinson? OK, that.