Exposé Online banner

Harvey Valdes Trio — PointCounterPoint
(Bandcamp no#, 2016, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-05-13

PointCounterPoint Cover art

Recently I read Derek Bailey’s book Improvisation, and one of the things he discussed was idiomatic improvisation, which is improvisation within an established style such as jazz or Northern Indian classical music or baroque music. This is contrasted with non-idiomatic improvisation, which is not bound by such factors or traditions. The use of the term “free improvisation,” while technically accurate, comes with so much baggage that it’s more hindrance than help in trying to describe music. I bring this up not because PointCounterPoint is completely improvised — it’s not, and in fact has some great compositions — but because while the music would probably broadly be categorized as jazz, when the players do improvise, it is not really idiomatic of jazz improvisation as it’s generally known. Which is all to basically say it’s not traceable to the blues, to get down to the root. Of course, over the last several decades, there has developed a lot of jazz that’s pretty far removed from the blues. The trio consists of Harvey Valdes on electric guitar, Sana Nagano on violin, and Joe Hertenstein on drums, and the complex, angular compositions call to mind such things as Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, Present, Bartók’s chamber music, and complex math-rock. Another reference that comes to mind is Korekyojinn, though with less emphasis on the heavy end of the spectrum. Valdes favors tones with a fair amount of distortion and other effects, and plays a seven-string guitar, so the lack of a dedicated bass instrument is not detrimental to the impact of the music. In contrast to Valdes, Nagano plays it straight tone-wise, using an acoustic instrument without (as far as I can tell) any effects. Her playing is plenty impressive without any enhancements, however; she dives into the off-kilter nearly atonal melodies with abandon, and her solos adopt the same esthetic, giving the pieces great coherence, almost as if the solos had been composed as well. Hertenstein does an amazing job of keeping the energy level high in spite of the erratic rhythms, working with equal parts recognizable patterns and “melodic” lines that match the accents of the other two. Harvey Valdes is a talent to be reckoned with, both as a composer and a guitarist, and this trio is a fascinating creative voice in modern music.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Harvey Valdes

More info
http://harveyvaldes.bandcamp.com/album/pointcounterpoint

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Už Jsme Doma - Nemilovaný Svět – The first I'd ever heard of this Czechoslovakian sextet was a tape someone sent to me last year of their first (1990) album Uprostřed Slov. I was suitably impressed with their twisted concoction of...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues