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Thursday, February 10, 2022

Andrew Raffo Dewar - Ekphrasis Suite (Rastascan Records, 2021) ****

By Keith Prosk

Kyle Bruckmann (English horn, oboe), Andrew Raffo Dewar (soprano saxophone), Gino Robair (percussion), and John Shiurba (acoustic and electric guitars) perform four Dewar compositions of chamber jazz inspired by four Pete Schulte drawings (as on the cover) on the 55’ Ekphrasis Suite.

The group previously recorded Interactions Quartet . Among them, Dewar and Shiurba have recorded together on Anthony Braxton’s Alumni Orchestra (Wesleyan) 2005 and Bruckmann, Robair, and Shiurba have recorded together frequently in various constellations but perhaps notable here is that all three appear on Nine Compositions (DVD) • 2003 and Robair and Shiurba on Six Compositions (GTM) 2001 .

Beyond its chamber leanings’ relative sparsity and gravity, staccato moments in persistent cadences with step-pattern angularity might recall Braxton. All qualities that could translate from Schulte’s work too, its simple staunch structures and minimal color. And like my eye is drawn to shades of grey, tactile in their grain, in Schute’s drawings so my ear is drawn to texture here. In individual stippling timbres, the grit of air through bore, oscillations in sustained wind, frictional percussion, amp hum, but moreso in their harmony, their interactions eccentric but beguiling. Like black and white, discrete and sustained soundings seem two distinct modes, solos and group play too maybe, but the music beams in between.