Happy July everyone. I’ve been taking a break for the last few days, relaxing, and catching up on my listening. I haven’t updated all of you with the “State of Avant Music News” in a while, so…
Reviews are moving along nicely. We’re now averaging about 15-20 a month, give or take. Interviews are moving a bit more slowly, but we hope those will pick up as well. As always, I am very grateful to our reviewers who toil away at this labor of love to share their thoughts with us.
I am thrilled to report that AMN is getting more submissions from musicians, labels, and PR folks than ever. This reflects what I take as a healthy interest in our kind of music. The down side to this is that we cannot review every release that comes our way. We’re lucky to write a few words about every 15th or 20th. In fact, we rarely have time to respond at all or even acknowledge the receipt of these recordings. If we did, we would not be doing much of anything else. So please accept our apologies in advance if you get nothing but a deafening silence after emailing us. It sucks, but rest assured that we do read all emails and messages, and we do try to listen to all submitted material.
Soon, possibly tomorrow, I’ll be releasing AMN’s “Best of 2015 (so far)” list of recordings. In the past, this has proven to be a popular and fun exercise, and we hope you enjoy it.
Mike (and the rest of AMN)
Houston’s Rothko Chapel—an austere room lit with natural light and dedicated to the display of fourteen of Mark Rothko’s late, subdued color field paintings—is a congenial site for improvised performances by the international trio Mural. The group, made up of Norwegian Kim Myhr on guitar; percussionist Ingar Zach, a Norwegian now living in Spain; and Australian Jim Denley on alto saxophone and flutes, has played there twice before the April 2013 date recorded and issued on this three-CD set. (A previous performance, from March 2010, was recorded and released in 2011 by the Rothko Chapel’s own publishing concern.)
Reflecting the immersive, contemplative atmosphere of the Chapel, Tempo captures the last three-quarters or so of Mural’s over four-hour-long continuous performance. Although each of the three discs can be listened to by itself, the music’s full effect and the group’s deftness at developing sonic textures over long cycles only becomes forcefully apparent when all three are heard in sequence during a single listening.
The release’s title says something essential about the music given not only its expansive duration but the way it sets out a concatenation of sound events coming into and going out of existence in time. Mural’s pacing and arrangement of sound into alternating fields and figures create a sense of musical time imagined as having been precipitated into a narrative sequence with all of its peaks and valleys, its alternations of episodes of activity and rest. Through subtle, largely timbral playing Mural collapses time into a single moment present in a low-frequency sound field extending in all directions; through more urgent, rhythmically driven sections—led by Myhr’s energetic pulse on guitar—the dynamic of time’s passage is made clear.
Throughout it all Myhr, Zach and Denley have an intuitive rapport that doesn’t lapse even over such a long period of playing. Zach’s bells, gongs, drums and pitched percussion are put to good coloristic use over the entire course of the performance; Denley’s sax and flutes can be plaintive, abrasive, abstract or voice-like as the moment requires. Myhr is a strong ensemble player who can, when needed, push the group with chordal ostinatos or an insistent, jangling strum just as easily has he can bind the music during its quieter passages.
Matthew Shipp and Michael Bisio will perform on Saturday, July 25, 2015 for two shows, 7 and 9 PM, at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln St. in Denver. Tickets are $22.00, general admission and are available on the Dazzle website: http://www.dazzlejazz.com or by phone at 303-839-5100.
Speaking of Shipp and Bisio, Something Else previews their new trio release with Newman Taylor Baker.
A new release from the Evan Parker ElectroAcoustic Septet is reviewed.
Adam Rudolph‘s Go: Organic Orchestra, featuring 33 woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion, will perform Sundays August 9, 16, 23, 30, 7:30 pm, at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music 58 Seventh Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217.
Finally, there is some evidence that listening to jazz is associated with being smart. But we knew that.