The alto saxophone carries so much baggage in the “Jazz” idiom it sort of scares me. From Johnny Hodges to Charlie Parker to Lee Konitz to John Zorn, there is no escaping that instrument’s weight and history as a key melodic and textural component in the sound of modern Jazz and improvised music.
Playing the alto sax in Jazz Music is like playing the Electric Guitar in Rock Music.
You better either be really, really good or do something so interesting that you aren’t competing.
Somehow, Anna Kaluza is both really, really good at the alto sax and a fascinating player.
Ms Kaluza’s sax playing so deftly skirts back and forth from melodic bebop-ish lines to free-er expressionism while Mr Roder complements and urges her forward. Just an all around pleasurable album to listen to. (It’s been in the rotation all summer!)
Anna Kaluza – alto saxophone Jan Roder – double bass
Nate Wooley, Trumpet; Ingrid Laubrock, woodwinds; Sylvie Courvoisier, piano; Matt Moran, Vibrophone.
I really enjoyed “battle pieces 2”, but I figured there must be a “battle pieces 1”. Recently was browsing the Relative Pitch Records website, and, well, there it was!
An unusual band in that it doesn’t have Bass or Drums, but does have piano & vibraphone. Well, I guess some people call the piano, “88 tuned drums”. Two chordal instruments and two linear instruments.
On Wooley’s website, the construction of the pieces is described as follows, “Each piece is constructed for a single soloist, who improvises with no score. The remaining members of the group perform an ever changing kaleidoscope of short and long pieces without verbal recourse with each other or the soloist…Different than freely improvising, this structure–now each player freely chooses from over 75 distinct compositions to combine with each other under the soloist–forces these great improvisers to confront new ways of making music away and expands their personal musical language.” Wooley is a fascinating player, a lot of what he does is tied up with exploring the harmonics of his horn, particularly by vocalizing while playing. It gives him a wide variety of “effects” to use on the pitches which his horn produces. I am not as familiar with the other players here. I know Ms Laubrock is closely associated with Anthony Braxton.
Of the pieces, I thought Mr Moran’s vibraphone contributions to Battle Pieces III were particularly fine, haunting, even, and especially unusual in combination with Ms Courvoisier’s piano.