Modern Jazz / Indie Jazz premiera polska: 2021-03-31 kontynent: Ameryka Północna kraj: USA opakowanie: digipackowe etui opis: multikulti.com * * * * *: Najnowsza płyta amerykańskiej gitarzystki Susan Alcorn trafiła do 10tki najlepszych albumów freejazzblog.org. Już samo to jest wystarczającą rekomendacją do sięgnięcia po płytę. Swoją przygodę z elektryczną gitarą hawajską, bo ona jest jej nominalnym instrumentem, zaczęła w wieku 21 lat, wychodząc od western swingu i country, doszła do abstrakcyjnych form, kojarzonych raczej ze współczesną muzyką improwizowaną niż z country. Główną inspiracją Susan Alcorn jest twórczość Johna Coltrane’a, Ornette’a Colemana, Oliviera Messaiena, Krzysztofa Pendereckiego czy Astora Piazzolli. Wykroczyła poza granice narzucone przez tradycyjne podejście do instrumentu, a rozwijając technikę slide’u i glissanda, wypracowała autorskie podejście do elektrycznej gitary hawajskiej, łączące nie tylko jazz, muzykę indyjską czy gamelanową, lecz także klasyczną i minimalistyczną. Czy to jest wystarczająca zachęta po zapoznanie się z dorobkiem Susan Alcorn?, sami państwo muszą podjąć decyzję. Recenzenci jazzowi już wiedzą, że mamy do czynienia z kimś wyjątkowym.
Kwintet w składzie Susan Alcorn-pedal steel guitar, Mark Feldman-violin, Michael Formanek-double bass, Mary Halvorson-guitar i za perkusją Ryan Sawyer na płycie "Pedernal" przedstawiają pięć autorskich kompozycji liderki, zarejestrowanych w The Bunker na Brooklynie 12 listopada 2019 roku.
"Pedernal" ma czytelną, przemyślaną konstrukcję. Rozpoczyna i kończy się marzycielskimi, zanurzonymi w brudnym bluegrassie "Pedernal" i "Northeast Rising Sun" (tutaj sięga po religijną suficką melodię). Trzy środkowe "Circular Ruins", "R.U.R." i "A Night in Gdansk" mają bardziej abstrakcyjną formę, w której ujawnia się zadziwiająca wszechstronność Susan Alcorn, która nadaje muzyce nowe znaczenia i słyszy ją, jak mało kto. To muzyka niejednorodna i niejednowymiarowa, zbudowana z nakładanych na siebie kolejnych koncepcji, tradycji, narracji i stylów. "Circular Ruins" ze swoją stylistyczną polifonią, od impresjonistycznych "pociągnięć" po głęboką zbiorową improwizację wprowadza słuchacza w świat wolnej formy. Najbardziej motoryczny "R.U.R." galopuje w zwarciu spontanicznych głosów równouprawnionych do snucia swoich opowieści. Najdłuższy na płycie "A Night in Gdansk" (Susan Alcorn występowała 10 listopada 2018 roku na festiwalu Jazz Jantar w Gdańsku, w składzie oktetu Mary Halvorson), jest jak masywna lokomotywa sunąca po szynach. Trzynaście minut rozedrganej, polistylistycznej improwizacji, podczas której na pierwszy plan przebijają się miękkie, pełne spokojnego piękna mikronarracje.
freejazzblog.org * * * * * “Cinematic”...okay, got that out of the way.
My Holy Trinity of Pedal Steel players are as follows: Bruce Kaphan, Hop Wilson, and Susan Alcorn. The pedal steel guitar in music other than Country & Western starts out like the elephant in the room, and then it becomes what it is music, be it “ambient,” “blues” or “jazz,” respectively. So now that fussy categorization is out of the way. Really it just gave me a chance to name check Bruce Kaphan and especially Hop Wilson.
Jazz may stress the collective in Alcorn’s case as opposed to the individual in the examples of Kaphan and Wilson but what ultimately matters is now what they play, but how they play it. Pedernal’s appeal is its serious playfulness. These aren’t heavy-handed artists making something for what it can be, they play see we can hear what is. As Alcorn is quoted in the press release, “I view the...pedal steel guitar, not as an object to be mastered but as a partner with which we share with the listener a meaning, depth and hopefully a profound awareness of each unique moment we’re together.”
Joining Alcorn on pedal steel we hear and enjoy Michael Formanek on bass, Ryan Sawyer on drums, Mary Halvorson on guitar and Mark Feldman on violin. Though there are larger and smaller groups than a quintet, five musicians can make a dense sound. However, Alcorn utilizes dyads and triads in deft arrangements so each musician gets an opportunity to contribute, shine and move the music. It unfolds and progresses sometimes languidly, sometimes scaling heights, but it is never encumbered by theory. The separation of the production also allows each voice to have their distinct place from which to play along or contrapuntally.
"Pedernal," Spanish for “flint hill,” is a narrow mesa that lies on the north flank of the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico. It sets a conceptual and musical theme for the recording as well. Alcorn open appropriately as the heat shimmers and rises, any fata morgana dwarfed by the impressive mountains. Alcorn contrasts the solid contrasted with the ethereal throughout the album. The group is unified until the temp changes and we’re off to dyads and triads, loping and Frisellesque noodling as the tune allows all the players to settle in before concluding as it opens, with Alcorn’s doleful, sweeping pedal steel playing.
'Circular Ruins' was inspired by the Anasazi dwellings in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah, between Cortez, Colorado and Blanding, Utah on the Cajon Mesa of the Great Sage Plain. Percussive rumbles open the tune then Alcorn and Feldman join sonic forces to ascend and Halvorson enters to counter Feldman’s mournful playing. Here, too is where a lot of the sound, though separated sonically, blends into a visual impression. Formanek takes a solo like a horn’s deep bellow. Alcorn again utilizes the dyads and triads effectively. The trio of Sawyer, Formanek and Feldman halfway through the piece allows your imagination to run wild.
'R.U.R', inspired by the science fiction play by the Czech writer Karel Čapek. R.U.R. stands for Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti (Rossum's Universal Robots) and introduced the word "robot" to the English language and to science fiction in 1921. It’s a fun track, with an almost bop opening before the strings splay it and the rhythm section urges them on into a free-form languid jam with echoes of Americana taking it out.
'A Night in Gdansk' is pensive, languid, piquant but can take flight at any moment. There is a contemporary despair to the tune, that feeling of misplacement across land and time zones. Yet at the 5’30” mark there's a sense of spiritual unity when the instruments and musicians find a common tonal ground. At the 8’30” mark we hear Alcorn's pedal steel not so much as the centerpiece of this album but more of the recording touchstone, its unique aural qualities defining the session’s “esprit de corps.” That the track sustains this over 13 minutes illustrates how time can get in the way of our perception.
'Northeast Rising Sun', influenced by road signs along I-95 in her native Baltimore is a joyous, playful, and soulful conclusion. After some open mic lessons from the band on how to count it off, which gives the track a loose, end of session vibe, Sawyer rolls in and fun commences. There’s a mini-orchestra tone to my ear as Alcorn again uses duos and trios, shifting dynamics and interplay and Formanek plays a nice solo. Blues cry with a classical pitch.
Susan Alcorn Quintet is composed of talented artists who use their skills and musical reference points not to reinvent the wheel or polishing the mirror. Under her aegis they simply and masterfully create a recording of grace, subtlety, unity, and compelling musicianship that balances and investigates the modern and the ancient. By Matthew Banash
JazzTimes Pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn has expanded her instrument’s domain well beyond the familiar sounds native to Hawaii, Nashville, or Bakersfield. She’s influenced by those traditions, of course, as well as the folk and blues of the Woodstock era (a chance encounter with Muddy Waters inspired her ambition to become a professional musician). Since the early ’90s, she’s also become a devotee of the music and philosophy of composer Pauline Oliveros. She has spent several decades in the “downtown” music scene, performing with luminaries like Evan Parker, LaDonna Smith, Ingrid Laubrock, and Fred Frith.
Her most high-profile recent gig has been as a member of the Mary Halvorson Octet. Alcorn is an integral part of that group’s superb 2016 album Away with You, and at times her new recording has some of the same distinctive flavor of the MH8. Alcorn leads a quintet—with Halvorson, violinist Mark Feldman, bassist Michael Formanek, and drummer Ryan Sawyer—through five stellar pieces that recall both the big-sky country traditions of her instrument and the thorny, rigorous interplay that are her bandmates’ calling cards. There are knotty guitar duets, sweeter ones with bass and violin, and a sense of surprise at every turn. In its balance between complexity and accessibility with prominent string and guitar work, Pedernal is reminiscent of Tomeka Reid’s fine 2019 effort Old New. Alcorn’s playing is richly evocative, but it never settles into genre. She’s an individualist, with a unique sound and vision. by Martin Johnson
All About Jazz Pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn has achieved the enviable feat of commanding her own instrumental niche in the jazz world. Much like Toots Thielemans' harmonica, Gary Versace's accordion or Bela Fleck's banjo, she seems to have a unique role all to herself, at least until her substantial talents eventually spawn a host of imitators. From her beginnings playing traditional country and western in the 1980s, she has branched out considerably, in the last decade forging creative partnerships in the free improvisation and avant-jazz communities, working with a distinguished list of artists that includes Mary Halvorson, Ellery Eskelin, Michael Formanek, Nate Wooley, Joe McPhee and Ken Vandermark, among many others. Capable of crafting scintillating solo statements or generating richly nuanced atmosphere, her astonishing versatility has allowed her to contribute to a vast array of projects. But it is encouraging to see her getting some additional exposure as a leader in her own right, with the elliptical and entrancing Pedernal.
With five of her own compositions in tow, Alcorn is joined on the album by guitarist Halvorson, whose Away With You (Firehouse 12, 2016) was one of the notable releases that raised Alcorn's visibility significantly in the creative jazz world. Frequent collaborator bassist Formanek, drummer Ryan Sawyer and violinist Michael Feldman round out the quintet. The album's opener and title track, "Pedernal," is a gem, with a memorable folk-like melody and expert use of all five musicians, particularly the lyrical talents of Feldman and a charged dialogue between Halvorson and Alcorn, in evoking the wide-open landscape of northern New Mexico and the mesa for which the piece is named. The closer, "Northeast Rising Sun," is similarly engaging, with the band adding some joyful hand-claps to a piece that also seems inspired by Alcorn's folk/country roots, though the tune itself is derived from the Sufi devotional tradition. It also showcases Halvorson's most rangy solo on the record, a characteristically devilish tone-twisting wonder.
The middle three tracks reveal the more oblique side to Alcorn's muse, with more undetermined space and a more elusive feel. "Circular Ruins" paints a multihued sonic vista with impressionistic crests and valleys, and a series of unfolding ideas which offer ample surprises, not the least of which is a punchy collective improvisation with Sawyer's bold forays setting the pace. The jaunty "R.U.R." starts at a brisk clip, but it too opens unstructured possibilities in its second half which rely on the players' spontaneous gestures and subtle exchanges. The longest cut, "A Night in Gdansk," is a languid, expansive track which takes thirteen minutes to develop, with moments of quiet beauty interspersed with austere abstraction. It is the perfect vehicle for Alcorn's distinctive blend of the familiar and the uncanny, and a terrific encapsulation of this stage of her development as a composer. By TROY DOSTERT
jazztrail.net Cleveland-born, Baltimore-based pedal steel guitar player/composer Susan Alcorn always finds a taut balance between articulate melody and ambiguous, atmospheric ambiances. She’s usually seen playing in duo and trio formats but for her most recent outing, Pedernal, she assembled a quintet with three old collaborators - guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Ryan Sawyer - and a new backer of her musical cause - violinist Michael Feldman. The album embraces diverse languages, moods and styles, yet, the five Alcorn compositions perfectly cohere as a whole.
The title track initiates the journey by centering guitar and bass in a spiritual communion. The group embraces folk, chamber music and country-jazz with a deep melodic sense in this charming sonic portrait of Cerro Pedernal, a narrow mesa located in northern New Mexico.
Inspired by the Anasazi dwellings in southeastern Utah’s Hovenweep National Monument, “Circular Ruins” enhances a contrasting, restless cymbal activity within the reflective mood delineated by concurrent guitars and violin countermelodies. Halvorson’s exquisite tones are wonderful during the explorative states of suspension created by Alcorn’s colorful chordal work and the lugubrious bowing of the bass and violin.
“R.U.R.”, whose title refers to Karel Capek’s 1920 science fiction play of the same name, reveals a playful nature while expressing bop-flavored lines over an elastic swinging motion. The intimate dialogues between the musicians are not averse to occasional contrapuntal agitation. And these types of episodic reaction driven by furor can be spotted again on “Night in Gdansk”, a 13-minute piece that, in spite of the balletic movements wrapped in dreamy and enigmatic tones, feels sometimes wayward without ever becoming disheveled in its pose. The first part of this composition, which Alcorn had written to be played solo, was adapted to the quintet format, and the group delivers.
The album concludes with the folk musings of “Northeast Rising Sun”, whose euphonic theme is challenged by the soloists' subsequent outside moves. This piece calls forth the Qawwali music.
Alcorn’s long-awaited debut as a leader is a promising sign regarding the work that will come in the future.
Editor's info: An innovator in integrating pedal steel guitar into modern improvised music, Cleveland-born, Baltimore-based pedal steel guitar player Susan Alcorn's quintet enlists a superb set of New York players--Mark Feldman on violin, Michael Formanek on double bass, Mary Halvorson on guitar, and Ryan Sawyer on drums--taking on a diverse set of Alcorn compositions.
muzycy: Susan Alcorn-pedal steel guitar Mark Feldman-violin Michael Formanek-double bass Mary Halvorson-guitar Ryan Sawyer-drums
utwory: 1. Pedernal 05:44 2. Circular Ruins 09:48 3. R.U.R. 06:03 4. A Night in Gdansk 13:04 5. Northeast Rising Sun 07:14
wydano: November 13, 2020 nagrano: Recorded at The Bunker, in Brooklyn, New York, on November 12th, 2019, by John Davis.