AMN Picks of the Week

Braxton, Anthony

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Pig Soul – Chorume da Alma (2011)
Remi Alvarez Quartet – Live at Vision Festival (2011)
Anthony Braxton – Composition No. 30 (2011)
Eric Moe – Kick & Ride (2011)
The Antarcticans – The Antarcticans (2004)

AMN Reviews: Stefano Scodanibbio – Oltracuidansa

Stefano Scodanibbio: Oltracuidansa (Mode Records 225)

With this recording, Italian contrabassist Stefano Scodanibbio offers a sonic investigation of the relationship of voice to language. The voice in question is his own, as expressed in the language of his instrument.

The idea for Oltracuidansa began with a brief text by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben on the nature of thought. From the text, Scodanibbio derived a series of questions concerning language, voice and thought and their complex interrelationships. Translated to the bass this meant, as he puts it, a “radical questioning of the relation between body and instrument.”

“Oltracuidansa” is an Italianization of the Provencal “ultracuidansa,” which Scodanibbio defines in part as “to think beyond” the limits of thought. This is an apt metaphor for what Scodanibbio is doing with his instrument on this recording. In questioning his physical rapport with it, he plays it beyond the limits of standard classical technique.

Scodanibbio recorded nearly six hours of various sounds produced by twenty-six different methods of applying hands, hair and wood to the instrument’s strings and body—the roster of techniques is meticulously catalogued in Scodanibbio’s liner notes accompanying the CD. Once recorded, the sounds were assembled via multitracking into a layered work nearly an hour long. No processing of the sound was used beyond the addition of some reverb.

Over the course of the track Scodanibbio sets out the extensive sonic vocabulary that can be pulled, rubbed, struck and otherwise coaxed from the bass. The result is an extended sound environment composed of constellations of colors and textures of differing intensity and duration—required listening for anyone interested in the state of the contemporary contrabass. The overall atmosphere is restrained and thoughtful, with much hanging on the nuances that differentiate the sounds.

One of the questions Scodanibbio asks with Oltracuidansa is whether language hides voice. The answer is ambiguous: The voice which expresses thought necessarily is both enabled and constrained by the language that gives it its distinct material form. By exploring the language of the bass as he does here, Scodanibbio shows that the performer’s voice is inseparable from the instrument through which it comes to life.

Nameless Sound Honor Alvin Fielder

From Houston’s Nameless Sound:

Resounding Vision Award party Honoring Alvin Fielder

Special performance by Alvin Fielder and NS Ensemble
cocktails, resounding hors d’oeuvres, award ceremony, an auction of art & artifacts

The Resounding Vision Award honors musicians whose efforts transcend aesthetics and resonate beyond the performance venue. It honors artists who pursue a vision of progress in our communities. Past recipients of the Resounding Vision Award: Joe McPhee, William Parker, Pauline Oliveros, Curley Cormier

When: Thursday, January 19, 2012, 6:30 – 10pm
Where: The Audley Society
3231 Audley
Houston, TX 77098

Alvin Fielder is a pioneering jazz drummer, an important educator, and one of the founding members of the enormously influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians cooperative. Born in Meridian, MS in 1935, Fielder studied pharmacology at Texas Southern University from 1953 to 1956. During his years in Houston, he worked with various jazz and R&B groups including the Pluma-Davis Sextet, the house band at the legendary Eldorado Ballroom. He then moved on to Chicago, where he joined an early version of the Sun Ra Arkestra and played with musicians like Roscoe Mitchell, Fred Anderson and Muhal Richard Abrams, with whom he organized the AACM in 1965 and appeared on its debut LP, Roscoe Mitchell’s “Sound” in 1967.

Fielder returned home to Mississippi in 1969, where he ran the family pharmacy, worked to desegregate the schools, and developed the Black Arts Music Society. BAMS brought countless jazz improvisers to Jackson and inspired a new generation of the city’s musicians (including a young Cassandra Wilson). In 1975, Fielder began working regularly with New Orleans saxophonist Edward “Kidd” Jordan. The association breathed new life into his career, and since then he’s appeared on a handful of potent and critically acclaimed releases. Fielder’s performances and clinics here in Houston over the past few years are ample evidence that at age 76, this legendary drummer is still at the height of his creative power.

Hubble and Diamond Terrifier at Zebulon Reviewed


Ben Greenberg plays guitar in the Brooklyn band Zs, but he is also the monocrat of Hubble, a project of one. He performed a short set at Zebulon in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood on Tuesday; so did Diamond Terrifier, alias the saxophonist Sam Hillmer, also from Zs. Individually, they’re working on related forms of minimalism, an old idea, but they’re post-genre people, interested in the dirty magic of warping and transforming sounds and languages you might already know.