AMN Reviews: The Particle Ensemble

Earl Howard, at Moers Festival 2007
Earl Howard, at Moers Festival 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Particle Ensemble [Mutable Music 17547-2]

The Particle Ensemble, consisting of Thomas Buckner (baritone voice), J D Parran (bass saxophone, flutes and thumb piano), Mari Kimura (violin) and Earl Howard (electronics and saxello), seems to have gotten its name from “particle stuff,” Howard’s term for the fracturing, granular electronic manipulation he brings to the other musicians’ sounds. And on these three lengthy tracks—composition/improvisations for quartet, trio and duo respectively—Howard’s electronic interventions do indeed serve as a kind of continuo grounding the group’s collective sound.

Howard’s Frond presents an aural mosaic for the quartet, its sound shaped in turn by Parran’s bass saxophone, Buckner’s vocals, and Kimura’s violin. As the piece unfolds it arranges and rearranges itself into processed solos, duos and trios. Voices are multiplied times themselves, broken up into overlapping fragments and reassembled again. Buckner’s extended vocalizations, encompassing growls, cries and buzzes, creates a kind of timbral counterpoint to Kimura’s glisses and Parran’s serrated tones. Parran’s Pundititis opens with the composer’s thumb piano against Howard’s electronics, gradually ceding to Buckner’s Sprechstimme delivery of a politically-tinged text. As the piece continues Parran moves to flute for a lyrical solo followed by duets with Buckner and Howard’s saxello. The last track, an improvisation for Howard and Buckner, is a tour de force of the latter’s mastery of extended vocal techniques.

This is a fascinating ensemble that, in all of its different combinations, creates sounds that are as challenging as they are gratifying.

Free Jazz Blog Reviews

Paal Nilssen-Love
Paal Nilssen-Love (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Free Jazz:

John Zorn: A Vision in Blakelight (Tzadik, 2012) ****
John Zorn: Mount Analogue (Tzadik, 2012) ****
John Zorn: The Gnostic Preludes (Tzadik, 2012) ****½
Billy Hart/Ethan Iverson/Mark Turner/Ben Street – All our Reasons (ECM, 2012) ***
Steve Beresford and Matt Wilson – Snodland (Nato, 2011) ***½
Dennis Gonzalez’s Yells at Eels with Alvin Fielder – Resurrection and Life (Ayler, 2012) ****
Paal Nilssen-Love – Chiapaneca (Bocian Records, 2012) ***½
Ernesto Rodrigues, Radu Malfatti, Ricardo Guerreiro – Late Summer (Creative Sources, 2012) ***½

Fresh Sound Music Series Spring Shows

Rez Abbasi at the Newport Jazz Festival
Rez Abbasi at the Newport Jazz Festival (Photo credit: leewrightonflickr)

From San Diego’s Fresh Sound Music Series:

Thursday, March 14th, 2013 · 8PM · Carl Stone
live computer music (Tokyo and Los Angeles)

Sunday, March 31st, 2013 · 8PM · Rez Abbasi Trio
Abbasi, guitar; Satoshi Takeishi, drums and John Hébert, bass (New York)

Thursday, April 25th Gyan Riley

Tuesday, May 14th Jeff Parker Trio