Friday, March 29, 2013

Bob Gluck, Aruan Ortiz, Textures and Pulsations

Put together two very accomplished pianist-improvisers-composers, supplement their arsenal with computer and Moog extensions and turn them loose. If the two involved are Bob Gluck and Aruan Ortiz, Textures and Pulsations (Ictus 167) is the very satisfying, adventurous result.

What transpired in concert that day was a live set of collaborations, no overdubs, Bob with a Moog, Aruan a laptop, both at the piano and both with some very good ideas.

This is extended music that harnesses fertile improvisational imaginations to the end of a new music, jazz inflected, thoughtfully electrified, avant but more freely structured than purely free in some ultimate sense. That means there are seemingly spontaneous motives that emerge, then ascend to a full performative height through the use of samples, echo, electronic enhancement and synthesizer coloration.

There are cyclical ideas (the pulsations) joined by a wide-ranging harmonic-melodic creativity and a well-chosen palette of sound colors (the textures).

What especially impresses me about the duet is the natural way the ideas flow in any given piece. It doesn't feel like the two artists are working up a sweat to come up with the good-idea music, yet the meeting nonetheless provides a forum for some excellent two-peopled invention to take place. And it does. It is not easy to make difficult-to-make music seem easy. But they do. And that is quite an achievement.

Gluck and Ortiz are at the top of their game on this session. The electronics and piano playing fit together happily and in the end some fascinating music comes about. It is an advanced music that comes out of the meeting, yet it has a very communicative, accessible, listener-friendly side to it.

This is one of the most successful melds of pianistic imagination and live electronic vivacity that I've had the pleasure to hear. It manages to unify elements of jazz, rhythmic pulse and advanced spontaneous composition in ways that are wholly original. Maestros Gluck and Ortiz find each niche without fail and develop it with ear-enriching, musically satisfying intelligence. You must hear this one!

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