Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Daniel Bennett's "Peace and Stability Among Bears:" Small-Group Musical Tapestry

Daniel Bennett writes music that winds out in long, permutat- ing phrases. His Peace and Stability Among Bears (Bennett Alliance 009) is a CD-length sample of that music in all its originality. The Daniel Bennett Group (Bennett, alto, flute, clarinet; Chris Hersch, electric guitar; Jason Davis, acoustic bass; and Rick Landwehr, drums) takes over your music system for 39 minutes with a kind of jazz that builds from the ground up with a different concept. Imagine the sort of guitar sound and structure you might here in classic African highlife, a kind of arpeggiated contrapuntal ostinato thing. Now think of the odd-metered cadences of some of the folk music of the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Put them together, add some kind of Bennettian "X Factor," then shake thoroughly and serve.

This is music less about soloing, though there is some of that in the context of the melodic-rhythmic ongoingness. It is about asymmetrical variations and repetitions on long phrase-forms.

The band SOUNDS good. Hersch's guitar rings out nicely; Bennett has a cooler limpid tone that nevertheless forcefully articulates the shifting rhythmic permutations at hand. Davis and Landwehr get with what's happening and help put it all together.

As MUSIC, this one is great. As "JAZZ" perhaps more soloing could be built into the pieces. But this is a quibble, because it is a delightful listen. And dig those bear cartoons!

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