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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The MacroQuarktet - Each Part A Whole (Ruby Flower, 2009) ****

Take two of today's most experienced modern trumpeters, add a rhythm section that is among the best you can get, make absolutely sure these are four strong characters with a sometimes idiosyncratic approach to music, and then make them improvise together without restrictions. Oh yes, a double restriction: every note counts, and the total sound too, the first is the too-small-for-the-microscope quark, the other the macro-level up to the size of the universe. So you know this is not your usual jazz CD. Trumpeters are Herb Robertson and Dave Ballou, also active on other paraphernalia such as electric megaphones, plastic hose, a variety of mutes & attachments, not to mention the more expected cornet, piccolo trumpet and flugelhorn. Drew Gress is on bass and Tom Rainey on drums. The music is open, abstract, often centred around the moment, and yet ... there are lyrical moments, on which the trumpets soar, and structured moments, where the four musicians play towards a build-up, feeding on each other's ideas to slowly create tension and grow the intensity of the piece. The music is not comparable to his previous albums. It is less grand, less expansive, with shorter and more focused pieces, and those truly gives this dual and ambiguous sentiment of being close and intimate, while being very exploratory at the same time. Sometimes great, sometimes interesting, always compelling.

Buy from Ruby Flower at a temporarily reduced price of $12.

On a side-note: small ensembles with two trumpeters are relatively rare, yet it is a setting which Robertson seems to like. The ones that come to mind are:
  • Mark O'Leary's "On The Shore", with Jeff Kaiser and John Fumo
  • Dennis González' "Nile River Suite", with Dennis González and Roy Campbell
  • Jacek Kochan's "Another Blowfish", with Eric Vloeimans and Piotr Wojtasik
  • Paul Smoker's "Brass Reality", with Paul Smoker and Herb Robertson
  • Jay Rosen's "Drums & Bugles", with Herb Robertson and Paul Smoker
  • Nuts' "L'Atelier Tampon Ramier", with Itaru Oki and Rasul Siddik
  • Harris Eisenstadt's "Guewel", with Nate Wooley and Taylor Ho Bynum
  • Jacek Kochan's "Another Blowfish", with Eric Vloeimans and Piotr Wojtasik.
© stef


Anonymous said...

Hi Stef,

Harris Eisenstadt's "Guewel" on Clean Feed as two trumpets as well.

Cheers and thanks for your outstanding work,


Stef said...

Thanks Pedro. How could I not have thought of this one? Such a great record.


Anonymous said...

Dennis Gonzalez seems to enjoy sharing frontline trumpet duties -- "Namesake" Ahmed Abdullah, "Catechism" Rob Blakeslee, "Debenge,Debenge" Marlon Jordan, "Welcome To Us" Nils Petter Molvaer.
Is Rob Blakeslee still recording? -- great trumpet player!

Stef said...

Thanks Allan.
It's been a while that I came across Blakeslee.