Monday, May 21, 2012

Michael Vlatkovich Ensemblio, An Autobiography of a Pronoun

Trombonist-composer Michael Vlatkovich has been responsible for some excellent avant music in the past. His latest may well be his most ambitious, and perhaps his most original. I speak of his An Autobiography of a Pronoun (pf MENTUM 067). It's been out for a little while but I am just getting to it (hey it's just me here, covering 500-1000 recordings per year on the three blogs).

I'm certainly glad of it because this one is very worthwhile. It's a fairly large ensemble, eleven musicians to be exact, doing Michael's compositions. Besides Vlakovitch there's Jeff Kaiser, William Roper, Brian Walsh, Harry Scorzo, Jonathan Golove, Tom McNalley, Wayne Peet, Anders Swanson, Mark Burdon, Ellington Peet. Brass, wind, strings, piano, bass, drums/percussion is how it breaks down.

The music strikes a good balance between the composed elements and the loose improvisational/spontaneous stance. When there's pulsation it is made more complicated and unique when Ellington Peet does the ride cymbal work and Mark Burdon the rest of the drum functions. The freetime passages gain something via this division of labor as well.

There is good use of the coloristic and textural possibilities of the ensemble, good use of the players' approaches to their instruments and sustained, flowing moods for each piece that have foundations in the writing and sequencing of the parts and are carried over into the improvisations.

It's a fascinating set, well worth hearing. Support small labels and this excellent ensemble by BUYING a copy.

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