Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Sarah Weaver, Synthesis Series, Music of Sarah Weaver and Collaborations


Composer and sound artist/improviser Sarah Weaver is one of those vital creative forces at work today in the New Jazz and Improvisation realms that makes the new, very new. There is a double album out digitally this summer but soon as a two CD-set that I've been listening to with interest. It is called Synthesis Series, Music of Sarah Weaver and Collaborations (Sync Source).

The music came naturally out of a COVID era social distancing as music meant to be performed live by members from widely disparate locations. The first most noticeable trait to this music is the appealing continuance of a long, spanning rhapsodic flow that gets its identity from composer-performer interfaces. All that is seen strongly from the beginning and the 46+ minute bird-like conference on "Integral Infinity."

Then the second part has a great inter-collaborative composition and performative thing for Gerry Hemingway and Sarah Weaver. What stands out right away is the striking blast of percussive color freely yet magnetically sounding a tattoo for our listening selves like a New Guinea slit gong sounding from an adjoining mountaintop.

Track one of album two,  "Isomorphic Now"  develops even further the long interactive song warbling as played beautifully by each of the melodically situated instruments.

The fourth and final soundblock begins with low notes from the  lower horns and then others wing into an interlocking intervallic lengthening.

The performers play a key role as color brushes, as improvisers, as artfully situated in Ms. Weaver's compositional matrix. They in so doing help make the music a sublime success, thanks especially to the overall directive,  completely sympatico retation to her and what sound and pronounced ambience she looks for. So kudos to Jun Sung Choi (vocals), Jane Ira Bloom (soprano sax), Marty Ehrlich (clarinete woodwinds), Ned Rothenberg (alto sax, woodwinds), Ray Anderson (trombone), Dave Taylor (bass trombone), Mark Helias (contrabass), Gerry Hemingway (percussion, co-composer on piece #2), Sarah Weaver (composer, conductor, improviser, computer music), and Robert Dick (flute, contrabass flute).

All this takes place with a kind of classic New Music certitude. Ms, Weaver clearly occupies an comfortable perch among the prevailing avant winds folks. She does not follow a predictable path as far as what generally gets forward in some typical stylistic byways and cross currents. So I do recommend you pay serious attention to this. Bravo.

Hear related works played live at this link:

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Owen Broder, Hodges: Front and Center, Volume 1


There is a truism in the idea that a tribute album can be progressive or regressive, in that returning to a specific artist or genre can help redefine the present or merely recycle it all like heartburn. Here is an album I immediately took to on first hearing but then hesitated, wondering whether we go forward or back with it. I did not know the artist before hearing this, but in the end I kept hearing a fresh newness as I listened so I resort happily to posting on it. Alto and baritone saxman Owen Broder shows himself a real fan of Johnny Hodges and his alto but then takes the swing influence and updates it all in a way that feels good to hear repeatedly. That on this first volume of the digital album Hodges: Front and Center  (Outside in Music, Bandcamp Digital Release).

The band is together and motivated to reach backwards and forwards at once, in a lively Quintet of Broder plus Riley Mulherkar on trumpet, Carmen Staaf on piano, Barry Stephenson on bass and Bryan Carter on drums. They go their own way within a kind of Rabbit and Duke in a swing stew that sounds all the clarion feeling of the best of that period without slavishly imitating anything.

The repertoire includes a couple of Swing and pre-Swing classics like "Royal Garden Blues" and "Take the A Train," then a few things, sides Rabbit did on his own, and then others that give us the essence but I do not readily recognize them. Good things all, played with a conviction and steadfast resiliency one does not often hear in such retrospectives. Bravo, bravo. Listen to this on the Bandcamp site and order it there if like me it gets you smiling.

M'lumbo, The Summer of Endless Levitation


M'lumbo has been a band I always seem to gravitate towards. I've covered a good number of their albums on these pages. Now here is a new one and it is different, spacy with a kind of Neo-African soundscape that rolls a little differently than the heavier Neo-Psychedelic Jazz-Rock of some of the earlier efforts. To me here listening  it is a cool thing, all of it. So you note I start logically with the title of the album, The Summer of Endless Levitation (Hell Yeah, LP or Digital).

So where to begin? If you go over to the BandCamp page that is devoted to the new album you will read that M'lumbo is a "New York multimedia band that crosses the boundaries of Rock, Electronic, Psychedelic, Jazz, and World Music with over 14 recordings.... 'It's Mickey Mouse, The Stanford University marching band, Santana and Syd Barrett rolled into one...borders on genius'-- Baltimore City Paper."

To get more specific this one is a majestic soundscape evoking the wonderful summers of our youths maybe, of Africa in classic days, of our deepest dreams and complex weaves of associations. Sometimes you might find there is almost a Beatles-in-summer resonance, other times a sunny acoustic-electric back porch dream. It all feels like a pitcher of fresh ice tea and lemon, to me at the moment. It is music most carefully and effectively orchestrated for a heady mix of acoustic and electric instruments and vocals. And it in the end is itself, delectably so.

It is a fruitful excursion into the symphonic realms of acoustic-electronica nowadays, a beautiful tapestry of synthetic and organic dream weaves. To go or to stay is up to you. One thing is certain. This is music in itself, of itself at the highest caliber. So get your ears on it if you can.

Take a walk to the album site to listen.