Dennis Rea Tanabata Ensemble — Black River Transect
(Scoobietracks no#, 2016, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-07-04
Black River Transect puts me in the awkward position as a reviewer of writing about music created by good friends. So take my words in that light, and I’ll try to describe it in objective terms so readers can make up their own minds. In some ways, this recording takes up where Views from Chicheng Precipice left off, with Dennis Rea’s unique balance of composition and improvisation presented in a setting more akin to chamber music than rock or jazz. The tracks herein were recorded direct to stereo at two concerts held at the Chapel Performance Space in Seattle in 2013. Both involved trombonist Stuart Dempster, and it is the fact that Rea and Dempster share a birthday that happens to also be the Japanese Tanabata holiday, that gives the “ensemble” its name. I put it in quotes because it’s not an established group with fixed membership but a collective of musicians convened as needed and appropriate for performances. In this case, Kate Olson (soprano sax) and John Seman (double bass) are the only commonalities; others involved include drummers Tom Zgonc and Paul Kikuchi, James DeJoie (bass clarinet), Beth Fleenor (clarinet), and trombonists Sara Mayo, Moc Escobedo, Masa Ohtake, Naomi Siegel, Steve Harreld, Jen Hinkle, Chad Kirby, Greg Powers, and Benn Hansson. The set is bookended by two versions of a lovely piece called “ASJ,” the first arranged for electric guitar, trombone, clarinet, soprano sax, bass clarinet, double bass, and drum kit; the second features the guitar and soprano sax backed by all the trombones in a beautiful arrangement by James DeJoie. The other composed piece is “Swaylone’s Island,” a lyrical little waltz with nicely interwoven parts and a soaring guitar melody. Completing the set are two longer improvisational pieces, one of which starts with Dempster’s didgeridu and long suspended notes from the rest of the ensemble, though it erupts into frantic confusion towards the end. The other is more pointillistic and harmonically limited, as each player was instructed to play only notes corresponding to the letters in their name (lots of D-E-A action). For me, one of the joys of this release is that I get to relive two amazing concerts that I attended, but certainly listeners who weren’t there can enjoy this as well. It’s a beautifully recorded document of real music captured in the moment of its creation, featuring outstanding musicians of impeccable technique and sensitivity. Well done, my friends.
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more