Mark Trayle/Vinny Golia and Holland Hopson/James Keepnews CD reviews [9 Winds/Metaharmonic]
Mar 10, 2003, 23:05
MARK TRAYLE/VINNY GOLIA Music for Electronics and Woodwinds CD HOLLAND HOPSON/JAMES KEEPNEWS Hunting and Gathering CD
I haven't found much to be moved by in the stuff currently being marketed under the “jazztronica” catch-all. Too much of it is given over to instances in which, more often than not, the machines are merely allowed to play themselves, while the creative and talented types (many of whom I still hold in high esteem) attempt to make something incidental and new by prancingÂ around pre-packaged McDance beats and boring samples. Not always, but usually, it sorely lacks the free exchange so vital to jazz. This general dilemma aside, here are two of the more successful marriages of jazz and electronics in recent times.
Multi-reedsman Vinny Golia is an LA mainstay, having put in much time with the Cline brothers (Nels and Alex) and composed for his own 32-piece Large Ensemble, as well as playing with everyone from Anthony Braxton to Patti Smith. Another collaborator of Nels Cline's, Trayle, who wields a mighty powerbook on this release, is known largely as a creator of art installation music, but has also worked with out-trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. Here, the outer space-blips and whooshes of his personally-triggered bytes converse with Golia's well-tempered moans and filigree. The record's sound is very reminiscent of Braxton's duet with Richard Teitelbaum's synthesizer on the former's New York, Fall 1974 album—some proof that the concept of such instrumentation is far from new. The overall effect, however, is more akin to the onboard computer of the Starship Enterprise jamming with Pharoah Sanders. And it's quite great.
Hunting and Gathering features the soprano sax/electric guitar duo of, respectively, Hopson and Keepnews, who each also contribute synths, along with various electronics. The strength of this set lies in the atmosphere it puts forth, rather than in the rapport of its players; the icy, oceanic soundscape, “Footcandle,” is a fine example of this. And when the inordinately cheesy analog drum machine crops up in tracks like “Iron Wet Paper Money,” it's forgivable because the concept itself seems unpretentious and full of gall (or just insane). Yet there's still an undeniable abundance of tracks here that feature truly stellar interplay, as well as inspired improvisation; see the stuttering duet, “Border Incident.” Full of distant, creepy sounds and scattered moments of close, guitar-sax discourse, Hunting and Gathering is an enjoyable mash of breath and circuitry.Â [9 Winds/Metaharmonic]