samedi 5 décembre 2009

Peter Herbert + David Tronzo : "Segmente"

(Aziza Music, 1999)

New York has quite a number of enabled improvising musicians, indeed it is a place of strong live interaction, where artistic participation seems to be the given. Yet within artistic dynamics there remains a fundamental interaction which enables an exciting setup of musicians to tick. It is the simple matter of chemistry. Peter Herbert and David Tronzo recognized this key element within the music they created together, allowing this "chemistry" and their unique perspectives to be present from the first session they did together more than 10 years ago in NYC's East Village, where they both reside.
Their backgrounds and influences are diverse -- Tronzo's re-invention of the slide guitar encompasses world folk, modern classical and free jazz forms; Herbert has courted two enormously rich careers simultaneously: one as a classical composer and performer, the other as a modern jazz bassist of great demand. This duo differs from others. Each voice is un-mistakenly recognizable, containing its own distinctly personal sound and language, which both musicians have developed on their own over the years. A quality, that is not necessarily a given anymore. Together, they create an entirely fresh sound. Their concept of using mostly acoustic sound altering devices (tools and toys), extends the acoustic playing capacities of their instruments, tickling sounds from their instruments from head to toe. These "extended techniques" distinguishes them from other, more elaborate "tech" setups. Besides, a duo is the most intimate setup for improvised music, which requires a maximum of trust, including being able to stay silent and listen, if the music calls for it.
Best described perhaps as acoustic ambient music, the Tronzo/Herbert duo walks a highly energized tightrope which draws the audience into the visceral 'experience' of great live music making.


jeudi 3 décembre 2009

Frances-Marie Uitti + Elliott Sharp : "Improvisations"

(JDK, 1997)

First Sharp's musical movement : like a blacksmith he strikes and creates a sound module, uneven, and brutal which he then catapults in an accelerated net of transformations and evil modifications. Looking for the perpetual movement. The initial formula gives birth to another, each formula goes forth, recycles the magical fuel, the energy of the next formula, like one would tune the energy of a star in the far distance. Music full of radiations. Whether he plays very expansive or reserved he builds on ramifications, tentacular variations which go very fast. And this is very masculine in its attempt to explain-express a total and original conception of his proper musical movement.
Frances-Marie Uitti is not very often playing with Sharp. She is rather uncessantly cutting his trajectories. She plays between sharpian ramifications. The dynamic comes from always trying not to be swallowed by the net. As if she was taking on the task to fill, inhabit the spaces he only goes accross and leaves behind. Her strings find the time and space to sing where Sharp dazzles with his ephemerous formulae. Even if sometimes she has to become a fury, play with a consuming physical commitment, in order to preserve her autonomy. She seems also more receptive to what the other is doing, sensibly developing themes he drew only the cabalistic sketches of. So doing she brings out emotional paths barely touched upon by the sharpian conquest for the perpetual movement. She takes all the risks for these emotional conflicts. There their routes are imbricated. Moreover, in the improvised engagements of Uitti can be heard an in-depth work on the relationships between the works written for her by the classical composers and the research for a personal language that no score will ever capture. A space of freedom, breathing, research necessary for her to keep personality in the interpretation when she goes back to the universe of the classical.

Pierre Hemptinne (Médiathèque de Mons, Belgique)

Combining the occasional extreme brutality of Elliot Sharp's non traditional double-necked guitar with the equally non-traditional, double bowed cello playing of Frances Marie-Uitti surely creates an explosive device waiting to detonate. Never quite playing together, they instead each take turns interjecting fragments and filling spaces with improvised textures. Uitti's cello at times seems to take the role of the sweet submissive vocalist as Sharp's guitar strong-arms other parts of the pieces. The dynamic between the two players allows for Uitti to elaborate on the roughly-hewn sketches that Sharp tosses into the work.



Rob Schwimmer + Uri Caine + Mark Feldman : "Theremin noir"

(November, 2000)

So many years after its invention, the theremin (an electromagnetic instrument triggered by hand gestures) remains cruelly underexposed, but consequently has kept its aura of mystery. This session involving theremin virtuoso Rob Schwimmer, pianist Uri Caine, and violinist Mark Feldman is therefore a highly unusual one. Most of the material was written by Schwimmer or arranged by him from Bernard Herrmann's film scores. A few tracks were collectively written or improvised. The instrument's innate ability for eerie glissandos secured it a recurring role in horror/suspense movies. Herrmann was one of the first to understand its potential and used it in his soundtracks for Alfred Hitchcock, especially in Vertigo. Schwimmer picked the best moments ("Carlotta's Portrait/Farewell," "The Nightmare/The Tower"), reaching the CD's highlight in his arrangement of "Scene d'Amour," a gripping number where all three musicians showcase their talents, building to an irresistible climax. The theremin's wail can mimic the human voice (a ghostly, haunting one) or string instruments (either violin, viola, or cello, depending on the register used). Many times the listener isn't quite sure who is playing the melody. To complement the theremin's range of expression, the leader occasionally uses effects or turns to the harsher daxophone. The music varies from foggy cabaret jazz numbers (Uri Caine's personal touch) to cinematic music crossed with contemporary classical. Highly lyrical, always firmly tonal and melodic, even though the instrumentation makes it feel off-the-wall and avant-gardist, Theremin Noir is inhabited by an uncanny beauty. A moody, delicate, and highly original album. Strongly recommended.

François Couture (All Music)