Bit Heads Daniel Blacksberg Trio (NoBusiness)
Bendowa Nobuyasu Furuya Trio (CF 159)
Intuitivo Fernando Benadon (Innova)
While there is in increasing flood of new releases by both new and established musicians, the sheer capacity to transfer information to some degree levels the playing field and provides opportunities for those blessed with ingenuity to find support for their work. These releases are all excellent examples of new voices in the creative music world, each finding a unique channel for sharing their ideas.
Philadelphia-based trombonist Daniel Blacksberg has been active throughout the northeast in recent years, premiering works by Anthony Braxton, Gunther Schuller, Danilo Pérez and the late Steve Lacy, as well as working with many top improvisers. Lithuania’s No Business Records recently released Bit Heads, the vinyl debut of Blacksberg’s trio with fellow Philadelphiabased artists Jon Barrios (bass) and Mike Szekely (drums). A virtuosic technician with abundant creativity and a drive to engage disparate and unlikely scenarios, Blacksberg presents a strong statement as an improviser and thoughtful bandleader. Barrios and Szekely form a solid foundation, but often the trio interacts in the three-equal-parts approach reminiscent of the innovative Threadgill-McCall-Hopkins band Air. “Fanfare for a Scrambled Race” starts off, offering one of the few standard head-three solos-head forms on the record and is followed with “Just Shy of Hope”, an introspective mix of texture and melodic information. “Deforestation” presents a very lithe theme expounded upon with bowed bass and muted trombone, with Szekely accompanying gracefully. “The Closer” follows to take the group immediately on an exuberant excursion through a dense, high-velocity theme. The record closes with the extended improvisational forms of “Shot to the End”, the ensemble constantly shifting between solo-duotrio combinations, with fragmented melodic ideas and jagged rhythmic shifts, essentially summarizing the various sonic terrains explored throughout the preceding seven tracks.
Woodwinds and culinary delicacies are the twin areas of expertise of saxophonist/flutist Nobuyasu Furuya. Born in Japan and currently residing in Lisbon, Furuya employs the skill of a master chef in how he carefully combines colorful ingredients in his music. Bendowa features the rhythm section of the excellent Portuguese RED Trio and the group is unabashed in their affinity for the early practitioners of the avant garde (Archie Shepp and Peter Brötzmann are named specifically). The disc’s five improvisations cover many areas, often employing a zen-like sense of grace even in the most intense scenarios. There are plenty moments of great subtlety as well, a palpable sense of mindfulness in the sparse textures found in the second and third pieces. Drummer Gabriel Ferrandini mixes extremes of space, density, momentum and gesture in his thoughtful dialogues with his bandmates, always displaying impeccable taste and timing. The interactions between Furuya and bassist Hernâni Faustino are quite emphatic and the common language the two share sets the stage for a constant parade of fascinating musical conversations.
A very unusual process was used for the recording of Fernando Benadon’s Intuitivo: the music heard is the result of Benadon’s process of recording each of the seven performers individually and then cutting and pasting different sections together to make a composition using the actual recordings as the source material. Such a process calls attention to the idea of ownership as it relates to the collaborative dialogue between composer and improviser: As with Bob Ostertag’s innovative Verbatim and Say No More sampling project, the composer steps back from part of the process and all the notes are the creation of the musicians, who received no instruction prior to recording their improvisations. The composer’s work resides in the conception of the project and in the actual reconfiguration of the material into something completely new. The end result comes off remarkably cohesive – tonality is often quite distinct, tempi and dynamics are well matched and different factions of the septet sound as if they were listening to each other quite closely, rather than playing unaccompanied with no idea of what anyone else had contributed. Bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Nasar Abedey make some strong grooves happen despite working completely independently of each other and violinists Courtney Orlando and Evan Price sound perfect together. Benadon has thought a great deal about texture, painstakingly assembling different combinations of players to create variety and nuance.