RT 9348 (2013)
9 Compositions for
The Multiple Joy[ce] Ensemble
Glenn Astarita - All About Jazz
Featuring an international cast, Matthias Schubert conducts a program that snugly resides in the avant-garde space. Each track is outlined in the liners, citing connotations, inspirations and homages, where it's up to the listener to connect the dots via his or her interpretations. It's a hybrid offering engineered with asymmetrical parts of classical, jazz improvisation, John Cage-like indeterminacy and neo-minimalism.
"Conlon Zoubeck" features pianist Phillip Zoubeck's off- center manipulations that could be categorized as a song-form designed on busy minimalism via staggered flows, unanticipated delays and ricocheting effects, seguing into a hectic foray. Throughout the album diversity is a key aspect. For example, on "Anthonykowski" Schubert pays homage to new-jazz pioneer Anthony Braxton, which as the leader cites, is a "4-layer orchestration followed by a 4-layer improvisation." Eminent alto saxophonist Frank Gratkowski is the soloist, as the ensemble executes a geometric sequence of progressions amid countering sub-themes (layers). At times angular and gruff, Schubert provides a cunning muse of Braxton's multifarious compositional structures.
The piece "Frith Fields" is dedicated to legendary avant- garde and progressive rock guitarist Fred Frith (Henry Cow), propagated by guitarist Scott Fields' slightly distorted and steely lines, performed on electric guitar. Schubert coins this as a non-interactive improvisation, devised with alternating time signatures. Essentially, the ensemble stops, starts and refreshes the activities with a discordant line of attack. And the program is consummated on the flighty, sullen and capacious "John Muller," which is dedicated to renegade music theorist John Cage and flutist Hans Martin Muller. Here, Angelika Sheriden's flute lines project a fluctuating discourse, treated with the instrumentalists' strange effects and responses, such as a subtle pluck of a bass string and barely audible string scraping exercises. Indeed, Schubert's ubiquitous viewpoints elicit food for thought via these hugely contrasting musical statements that may prompt the listener to wonder what other curveballs or oddities may surface along the way.