Amorphae by Ben Monder, Pete Rende, Andrew Cyrille, and Paul Motian.
This album of solos, duets, and trios from Mr Monder &Co has been on my “to listen” list for quite a while. On this release, Monder operates in roughly the same reverb and chorus drenched wide screen universe as players like Bill Frisell and David Torn. Not quite as “folksy” as Frisell and using more “classical music” inspired melody and harmony than Torn, Monder seldom “shreds”. Instead building his solos to curtains of shimmering abstract sound.
Please turn your hymnals to number 137 and join with the clarinets in, “Ancient of Days”.
First Line: Ancient of Days
Name: ANCIENT OF DAYS. (ALBANY)
Meter: 11 10, 11 10.
Tempo: In unison, with dignity
Music: John Albert Jeffrey, 1855-1929
Text: William Croswell Doane, 1832-1913
Fairly rhythmically and harmonically interesting, this one gave me something to chew on and develop over its short course. Not often you see dotted eighth notes and 16th notes in hymns!
Jeffery (sometimes misspelled as Jeffrey) began playing the organ at St. Anne’s Cathedral in Plymouth at age 14, taking over his father’s position. He emigrated to America in 1876 and settled in Albany, New York. He developed a chorus and directed the music at St. Agnes School, and played the organ at the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral. He left for Yonkers, New York, in 1893, and served at the First Presbyterian Church. Later, he taught music at the New England Conservatory.
Felice Giardini was born in Turin. When it became clear that he was a child prodigy, his father sent him to Milan. There he studied singing, harpsichord and violin but it was on the latter that he became a famous virtuoso. By the age of 12, he was already playing in theater orchestras. In a famous incident about this time, Giardini, who was serving as assistant concertmaster (i.e. leader of the orchestra) during an opera, played a solo passage for violin which the composer Niccolò Jommelli had written. He decided to show off his skills and improvised several bravura variations which Jommelli had not written. Although the audience applauded loudly, Jommelli, who happened to be there, was not pleased and suddenly stood up and slapped the young man in the face. Giardini, years later, remarked, “it was the most instructive lesson I ever received from a great artist.”
ECM has always been eclectic in it’s releases. This atmospheric mashup of Jazz, Classical, and UK Folk music isn’t exactly the exception, as the rule. June Tabor is a great folk vocalist and her partners in Quercus are Huw Warren and Iain Ballamy, Piano and Saxophone, respectively. If I had any complaints, it might be that Nightfall is just a tad too pleasant.
Most people trace the modern Soprano Sax tone, flute-like, mellow, and largely without vibrato, to the playing of Lucky Thompson. Eschewing the harsh tone and wide vibrato of early players like Bechet, Thompson set the stage for immensely commercially popular players like Grover Washington Jr and the much maligned Kenny Gorelick. Also, as far as I know, just about the only Bebop Soprano player.
A pretty strictly Bebop affair, great work here from the whole group. I think, especially, the expressive cymbal work from Connie Kay stands out.
Please turn your hymnals to number 135 and join with the clarinets in, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts”.
First Line: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts
Name: ST. ATHANASIUS.
Meter: 7 7, 7 7, 7 7.
Tempo: With dignity, in moderate time
Music: Edward John Hopkins, 1818-1901
Text: Christopher Wordsworth, 1807–1885
Pretty generic hymn stuff here from Dr Hopkins, even with some unusually close harmonies at points. Apparently, he was something of a prodigy on the Church Organ, getting his first appointment at only 16.
Dr. Edward John Hopkins FRCO (30 June 1818 – 4 February 1901) was an English organist and composer.He was born on 30 June 1818 in Westminster. He was the eldest son of George Hopkins, a clarinet player who played with the orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Two of his brothers, John and Thomas Hopkins, also became organists – John at Rochester Cathedral and Thomas at St Saviour’s Church, York. His uncle Edward Hopkins was also an outstanding clarinettist and bandmaster of the Scots Guards in 1815.
In 1826 he became a chorister of the Chapel Royal under William Hawes and sang at the coronation of King William IV in Westminster Abbey in 1830. At the same time, he sang in the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, having to manage his double schedule with great dexterity. On Sunday evenings, he would play the outgoing voluntary for his organ teacher Thomas Forbes Walmisley, the father of Thomas Attwood Walmisley, at St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields. He left the Chapel Royal in 1834 and started studying organ construction at two organ factories.
His first organist appointment was at Mitcham Church. He played in a blind audition against several other organists and won first place in the auditions. The committee, on seeing that he was only sixteen, were reluctant to appoint him but his friend James Turle, the organist at Westminster Abbey, where Hopkins had played as a stand-in for Turle, informed them of the fact and he was appointed.
Another perspective from EXEYE on the intersection between rock-ish concepts/players and improvisation. With the influence of Vandermark and Nilssen-Love, this skews more towards Free/Energy playing than EXEYE’s dark metal infused scree. Lean Left is definitely skronkier, but the woodwind players in both ensembles face similar problems of being heard over loud guitars and drums. Though, on this release, the guitars manage to restrain themselves and play quietly on a couple tunes. Invigorating way to start the morning.