A Dance That Empties by Subtle Degrees.
Bandcamp Link: A Dance That Empties
I’ve been listening to this album all week.
Not because it is super long, but because it is super dense.
It is a Tenor Sax and Drum duo album from Travis Laplante, (of Battle Trance and Little Women,) and Gerald Cleaver, (of Farmers by Nature and Black Host).
Travis Laplante is well known, along with his other compatriots in Battle Trance, for extending the tonal vocabulary of the Saxophone. “Extended Technique” and all that. He is also an extremely melodic player.
But, when I first heard about this album I was wondering, where would Gerald Cleaver fit in?
Most saxophonists who traffic in arpeggio based extended technique and saxophone multiphonics do it solo. With all that going on, there’s just not a lot of room for other players to fit in.
So, I sort of put off listening to it for a while.
Foolishly, it turns out.
Mr Cleaver is a great foil for Mr Laplante, translating his complex saxophone polyrhythms into an ever changing sea of even more complex drum motifs. Somehow finding the accent points in Mr Laplante’s playing and using them to create rhythmic units.
The album is made up of 3 pieces. All three include passages of solos and duos.
Mr Laplante’s playing utilizes some of the same techniques as an Evan Parker or a John Butcher, but it feels more controlled and spacious than those men’s often extremely dense work. Which I guess leaves more room for others.
Though, some of the tempos these two build to are just nuts. The third piece, especially, Mr Laplante has a particularly long section where an arpeggio speeds up and speeds up until it is going so fast it is a single modulated tone. Nuts.
The funny thing, as I was thinking about this today, is the rhythms of A Dance That Empties often feels not so much like “Jazz”, as an extension of the type of playing that might accompany a Shakespeare play, Renaissance music, or an English traditional dance. Well, OK, a totally nuts Morris Dance Ritual, perhaps performed by extremely nimble goats.
#ADanceThatEmpties #TravisLaplante #GeraldCleaver #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack