Saturday, 8 November 2008

Trio x 3 - New Jazz Meeting

On the subject of fusion, there's another release we have that is far more successful. The 'New Jazz Meeting', as it is called, represents a fantastic synthesis of disparate elements from a number of fields into a remarkably cohesive artistic statement.

Involved in the project are, as the name suggests, three trios. Representing the field of Improv, there is the late Steve Lacy, Peter Herbert and Wolfgang Reisinger. The second trio are 'New Musicians', Marcus Weiss, Phillipe Racine, and Paulo Alvares, and the third trio are electricians; Philip Jeck the arch-hauntologist, Bernard Lang, and Christof Kurzmann the E.A.I. maestro and member of The Magic I.D.

The foundation of the project is a composition by Lang, entitled Differenz/Wiederholung 1.2, which is performed 'straight' as part of the release. This, as its title suggests, is directly inspired by reading Deleuze. The Deleuzian-generated artwork is something we have had serious problems with, due to our exposure to Architecture's plundering of Capitalism and Schizophrenia over the last few years. Then again, Deleuze and Guattari do describe their work as a toolbox, to be utilised as one sees fit. Of course, this is an issue of fidelity - is it a faithful response to D&G when it is war-mongering, as in the IDF, or right-wing quasi-intellectual capital, as in architecture? Can we even describe Hardt & Negri as being faithful to Deleuze? We would suggest not, but that is a very large question in itself. On the whole, though, we are wary when an artist follows a literal approach to philosophy, the worst case we know of being the architectural response to The Fold. Lang's composition veers towards this approach, although in a far more humble manner than the examples above. Reading Difference and Repetition encouraged Lang "to break out of my former methods and plunge into the investigation of repetition, and the exploration of loops." This is not a statement that his work embodies the concepts, merely that he was suitably inspired by them to work forwards (although his latest works are named 'Monadologie', which suggests his forward motion may not be so forward as one might think). The composition itself is exciting and of course repetitious, properly addressing the issue of looping that 'New Music' often has trouble with. By breaking up fragments of a previous piece, we get to experience, in the context of acoustic performance, the effects that normally we expect from electronic or minimal music, namely patterns, superimpositions and syncopations. This combines with a gestural performance style to create a piece that swiftly shifts in dynamic from near-groove to all out chaos, all the while with a hypnotic phase-patterned quality.

Contra to usual improvisation practice, the musicians were all allowed to prepare extensively for their meeting. The laptop artists were given a previous recording of D/W 1.2 to experiment and perform with, and Jeck had dubplates of the piece made for his old turntables. The New Musicians had to perform the piece at the concerts, and the improvisers were given the opportunity to study it. This serious preparation allows the work as a whole to complete itself, to create a closed space of reference where everything is related inwards to another part of the experiment, without reducing the number of sonic potentialities given by the material. In doing so, deficiencies or restrictions normally experienced by each musical typology are overcome, or at least re-formulated, allowing for a rich and rewarding programme of experimental electroacoustic improvisation.

Over the generous (2+ hour) recording, there are numerous combinations of the artists, ranging from solo efforts from Kurzmann and Jeck, through duos, trios and quartets, and one track featuring all nine of the artists together. As mentioned before, the textures range from subtle overlappings of gesture to high powered blow-outs, without ever descending into macho posturing. Particular highlights are the duet of Jeck and Lacy, a highly stimulating clash of twisted haunto-funk and searching soprano saxophone, another example of that small genre of successful improvised communication between acoustic and electronic musicians. The track where Jeck goes up against the improvisors trio is exceptional, slowly rising into an aggressive crescendo of noise, the unhinged drums working surprisingly well against the turntables' locked grooves. Christoph Kurzmann is also excellent in his solo slot, again managing to be remarkably individual with his delicate palette of high pitched tones and clicking loops, and the nonet is excellent, everyone making adequate space for each other, yet still working powerfully with the source text.

Overall, the best aspects of this recording are the myriad intelligent blurrings that occur throughout. Each musician (at least the ones that we know well) is recognisably themself, yet they are also supple and submissive towards the overall structure of the piece. As an example of complex and structured improvised music, with a definite collective identity and intellectual direction, there is little I know that has surpassed it.

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