Cuong Vu 4-tet — Ballet - The Music of Michael Gibbs
(RareNoise RNR079, 2017, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-08-08
The last Cuong Vu release I heard was from his band Indigo Mist, which is heavily electronic. The 4-tet features Ted Poor (drums) and Luke Bergman (bass), who are also in Indigo Mist, but this is a much more acoustic affair, with Vu’s trumpet paired with Bill Frisell’s guitar rather than keyboards and laptops. Ballet is a live recording of music written by Michael Gibbs, and could perhaps be viewed as a reciprocal tribute to balance the NDR Big Band album where Gibbs presented a set of Frisell’s music. The trumpet work is outstanding, somehow both tasteful and adventurous, exploring the harmonic reaches of the compositions, with a clean tone unadorned by electronics. Vu is one of the outstanding trumpet players working today, and the breadth of his playing is impressive, ranging from lyrical ballads to edgy uptempo romps that venture into adventurous harmonic territory. Frisell may be known these days for his legato phrasing and interpretations of American folk tunes, but it’s worth remembering that he’s got another side as well — remember he was in Naked City with John Zorn. This set gives him the chance to show both sides, with some tracks having a blues base, and others venturing into more avantgarde styles. The standout is the longest track, “And on the Third Day,” originally recorded on 1970's Michael Gibbs. The dramatic chord progression provides an excellent springboard for both Vu and Frisell to show their stuff, playing off each other in ever-intensifying phrases, culminating with a solo that counts as the wildest thing I’ve heard from Frisell in ages. The album was recorded live in 2016 at Meaney Hall on the University of Washington campus, which is right next door to the office where I work, and I’m kicking myself for missing this amazing performance. Thanks go to those who preserved it and have released it for all to enjoy.
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more