Artist: Frank Gratkowski,Scott R. Looney,Damon Smith,Kjell Nordeson
Album: Mimetic Holds
Genre: Free Improvisation
Label: Balance Point Acoustics
Recording Date: 2004
This is abstract improvised music, as is usual for Damon Smith‘s Balance Point Acoustics label. Many tracks follow a pattern of slow, thoughful improvising that builds to a nice, loud frenzy. It’s not at all formulaic. It’s more that when you’re jamming with friends, and the moods and ideas click, it’s probably easy for the pace and volume to pick up. The result is a nice ride for the listener.
Take the 15-minute “Indexes Provolones.” It starts with relatively slow moving spaces and an airy, flutelike sound to Gratkowski’s careful clarinet notes. A quiet bass solo shows off some of Smith’s tricks, with the bow glancing and gliding across the strings. The second half opens up into some jazzlike group work, with bright clarinet and piano (Scott R. Looney) lines backed with some dense percussion (Kjell Nordeson), before turning fierce. Twice in the late minutes, you can hear the whole band surge forth, as if cranking the dials all at once.
“Mimetic Holds” is perhaps the most extreme track in exploring thoughtful silences and quiet, creeping progress. But it, too, develops into hard-clacking percussion with bass and clarinet doing faroff wailing sounds and ends with a more celebratory free-for-all. Overall, it’s a rewarding 13-minute journey.
You don’t always have to wait that long. “Any Icon Melody” has plenty of action from the get-go. “Badger Interlocks Kiwi” starts restlessly, with toneful sax improvising over a piano cascade and rustling bass/drums that quickly builds into faster playing and a fiery blast.
I should also point out that these titles, by themselves, are pretty darn cool. “Diverse Xenon Loops” and “Crablike Editing Works,” which really does start out crablike, are just scrumptious phrases. - wedgeradio.wordpress.com
Clarinet, Alto Saxophone – Frank Gratkowski
Double Bass – Damon Smith
Percussion – Kjell Nordeson
Piano – Scott R. Looney
1 Any Icon Melody 11:35
2 Crablike Editing Works 11:33
3 Diverse Xenon Loops 7:20
4 Mimetic Holds 13:53
5 Badger Interlocks Kiwi 7:46
6 Indexes Provolones 15:30
Tracks 1-5 recorded live at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz, 10/10/2004
Track 6 recorded live at 1510 8th St. Performance Space, Oakland, 10/9/2004 Download: