Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Shelton / Lonberg-Holm / Rosaly, Resounder

Three members of the Chicago sextet Fast Citizens come together in a trio setting with some bracing avant improvisations that incorporate electro-acoustic elements to extend and enhance the music experience. These started out as a series of inventive free improvisations that were later subjected to electro-acoustic processing by Aram Shelton, the alto saxophonist in the group. Joined with him are Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, guitar and live electronics and Frank Rosaly on drums. The album is entitled Resounder (Singlespeed Music SSM-015).

These are cutting-edge avant improvisers and what they do live here is exceptional in itself. Shelton's processing is selective and alters one track at a time, not continuously, but periodically. It broadens the sound-palette rather than obscures the initial live signal. One can always tell what the source sound is and how it fits with its momentary enhancement.

This sort of thing is an evolution of some of what Stockhausen did with his chamber ensembles in the later mid-period. Only the language is more firmly and expressively in the "free jazz" realm.

The music is most certainly not transformed due to a lack. Everybody is on the mark with some exceptional out confluences. The added processing gives the trio a fourth voice, I suppose you could say, that is born of the interactions yet colors a part of the sound and thus stretches the possibilities further and gives us a cosmically advanced texture overall.

If the musicians were not rolling forward with some peak interactions the electro-acoustic transformations would not make a difference. Here they put the music a notch forward and ultimately fit the sound design seamlessly. Purists may balk at such interventions, but then purists are free to go their own way and not be any the lesser for it.

What counts is the music in the end. This is first-chair Chicago avant. The three artists are making some exhilaratingly expressive music here. You should give it your ears and take some time to explore its complexities, its abstract coherence, its smart and soulful dialoging.

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