8- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 14, 1993
Continued from page 5
the 1989 International Improvisational
Musical Festival in Qu6bec, the disc
documents some of the most whimsical
and inspiring creative improvisation the
Western world has to offer.
The precision of Ladonna Smith's
digagi violin attack and Davey Will-
iams' slyly rhythmic guitar comping
balance each other well. Smith's deft
hop-scotching all over the neck and
Davey's on-again, off-again tempo cre-
ate a manic hoe-down. Although the
twisted blues of "Nightbird Shadow
Blue" is a bit sluggish, each player
fashions sardonic one-liners out of their
extended musical vocabularies.
Hans Reichel's unique guitar pick-
ing takes improvisation from adifferent
angle. Instead of creating new tonal
vocabularies on traditional instruments,
Reichel constructs his own hybrid gui-
tars. With his Stick guitar, he places
familiar notes into new discursive con-
texts, breathing new life into predomi-
nantly tonal music. The composite qual-
ity of his musical neologisms sounds
like a harpsichord that Conlon
Nancarrow has been tinkering with.
Paul Plimley's previous interaction
with tragically under-rated wind multi-
probably left him with lots to ponder.
But, Plimley'sheavy-handed key-pum-
meling is outshined by the sheets of
overtones beaming from each bowing
of Ellis's untamed bass in their duet.
Despite theirratherhumdrum moni-
ker, New Winds is composed of three of
the most impressive experijassical hy-
brid windists (Robert Dick, Ned
Rothenberg, and J. D. Parran). New
Wind's all-too-short improv is some of
the mostrewarding listening on the CD.
Dick and Parran are a perfect match,
fabricating rich musical textures while
leaving room for Rothenberg's more
dissonant sax flutters.
Irene Schweizer,MaggieNicols, and
Lindsay Cooper cap the CD with com-
petent and compatible extended impro-
visation. Originating from the Feminist
Improvising Group, this trio is making
political as well as performative inroads
into contemporary improvised music.
Unless you usually make the trek up
to Quebec for the Improvisational Mu-
sical Festival, this CD is a good way to
get a taste of the performances and
encourage more local production of cre-
atively improvised music.
- Chris Wyrod
Rova Sax Quartet
This Time We Are Both
New Albion Records
You sorry lot who missed Rova's
first Ann Arbor performance of sax
acrobatics last fall have a chance to
relive the experience ... sort of.
"'This Tune We Are Both" assembles
the quartet's live performances through-
out the (former) Soviet Union, hence
the CD's Russian title "Telerb Nas
Their first mission of sax diplomacy
took them behind the iron curtain in
1983, forced to covertly perform in the
basement of the Dostoevsky Museum.
But even then, eager Russian revolu-
tionaries came to hear Rova's notes
During their second time in Musco-
vite country in 1989, change was ki-
netic; appropriately, Rovabopped while
Berlin's granite dividing line between
ideologies was being demolished 1,800
miles away (now . that's
But the music _ amazing in its com-
plexity and self-consciousness. As they
are, the quartethasmatured from its "As
Was" days. LikeAnthony Braxton, they
have refined various sonic quirks, of
which Antoine Sax never conceived,
into integral elements in the Rova grab-
But, remarkably, they still retain their
unpredictability. Every saxophonic twist
and turn reveals new perspectives and
possibilities. Although the pieces are a
composite of individual voices, the parts
are braided together into a fluid and
cacophonous dialogue, in which each
sax comments on what the others are
saying. The conversation is highly re-
flexive, with one horn repeating
another's phrase while another takes off
on an extrapolation of the topic, bring-
ing in new ideas to the discussion.
Even though you can't see the per-
formers toss hand signals to each other,
their playfulness permeates the music.
In typical Rova fashion, "The Unques-
tioned Answer" inverts Charles Ives's
"The Unanswered Question," creating
an incredibly forceful twenty-five
minute jam from Ives's quiet five minute
composition. Yet, they preserve the con-
templativeness of the piece, expanding
Ives's themes. The warm acoustics of
the Latvia Theater creates the illusion
that the soprano saxes become the string
section of Ives's original.
Although some of the tunes feel
more formally composed than previous
Rova creations, the subtle textures and
rhythmic phasing create a dramatic and
constantly transforming soundscape.
Alvin Curran's "Other Brothers," per-
formed in Estonia, is the most angular
and wonderfully disjointed piece on the
CD. With a stumbling rhythm, each
player spins off in disparate direction,
creating a contained chaos of notes pull
in opposite directions but all with the
If you missed your chance to see
Rova in your neighborhood, hear them
through Soviet ears. GiveRova a chance
and they'll amaze you.
- Chris Wyrod
Womack and Womack
Transformation to the House of
Very mellow and dangerously bor-
ing, this collection couldn't get more
horrifying but for the liner photos dis-
playing the Womacks' "acculturation."
- Forrest Green III
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