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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Scott Fields Ensemble - Fugu ( Clean Feed, 2010) ****½

 Guitarist Scott Fields fits in his own musical category, trying to reconcile new music with jazz elements, inventive with musical structures and patterns, yet with an end result that is often very (too) cerebral and abstract. This album uses the same complexities, with odd meters and changing time signatures, and somehow it all seems to fit and work perfectly well. It was originally written for the dance ensemble of Li Chiao-Ping, and already released in 1995. From what I understand from the somewhat tiring liner notes is that the piece was never performed, and you can understand why, when listening to it.

That being said, the music is beautiful. Scott Fields plays nylon-string guitar, Matt Turner cello, Geoff Brady percussion, John Padden double bass and Robert Stright vibraphone. The shifting meters and the chamber-like ensemble perform with precision and clarity, keeping the music open-textured and thematically relatively free, despite the structure, that, implicit though it is to the listener, creates a sense of release when the puzzle pieces falls into place.The improvisations are excellent, and it's a pleasure to hear Fields playing guitar in a relatively straight-forward way, especially on "The Plagiarist", a very nervous and uptempo piece. The rest of the band is absolutely great, with the sound combination between the cello and the vibes working extremely well. On the long "A Carrott Is Not A Carrott", the interaction between Turner's cello and Fields' guitar is full of sad melancholy, the interplay between cello and walking bass on "Fugu" a pleasure, as is the careful precision play between vibes and percussion.

A real treat, and an excellent idea to make this music available again.

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© stef