Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Jacqueline Kerrod — 17 Days in December
(Orenda 0093, 2021, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-11-30
Kerrod is a South African string harpist currently residing in New York City. Classically trained from the age of nine, she has had a varied career as a freelancer, playing as the principal harpist in the top orchestras and several chamber groups and contemporary music ensembles, as well as working with pop superstars like Rufus Wainwright and Kanye West, but her debut solo album, 17 Days in December, is none of that! She spent several years prior to the pandemic working with composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton in his ZIM Music Ensemble, as well as working with Braxton in a duo configuration, touring the US and Europe, and likely where she developed her love for improvisation. The shift from the intense preparation and perfection of classical music performances into the liberating and adventurous world of improvisation sparked a series of ideas that came to fruition at the studio in the basement of her home in Princeton in December 2020, accelerated by the lockdown. Seventeen tracks were recorded — one per day across seventeen days, each session beginning with a blank slate and no pre-planning, just making solo improvised music in the moment without any loops or overdubs, but using plenty of extended techniques, both with acoustic and electric harp, sometimes using slides, glass bowls, violin bows, various guitar pedals (distortion, overdrive, and whammy) to produce all sorts of unexpected sounds, but mostly throughout one can generally hear the string harp sounds at the root of the effects. This is improvisation in its purest form, beautiful, strange, eclectic, and personal. For ”December 30: Strummed II,” the electric harp is treated to an attack decay effect, while “December 21: Chatterbox” has the harp sounds twisted through a whammy effect, resulting in one of the strangest pieces here. For “Broken in Three,” it seems as if some sort of metal or other membranes are lodged within some of the strings, adding a nasty sounding distortion, although the sound of each of the strings can still be heard under it all. 17 Days in December is definitely an adventurous collection of works like no other.
Related artist(s): Jacqueline Kerrod
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