May 24, 1976
Larry Karush piano
Glen Moore bass, violin
Recorded May 1976 at Talent Studios, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Bassist and Oregon cofounder Glen Moore joins pianist Larry Karush (who can be found lurking elsewhere on ECM as part of Steve Reich’s ensembles) in a fascinating encounter recorded on the titular date for the JAPO label. Perhaps because the two had already nurtured a deep synergy, what might have been a straight-up duo project instead turned into a spacious and variegated statement. Karush serves up four memorable solo portions, including opener “Untitled.” Balancing cloudy textures with sudden intakes of breath, it leaves only ash to tell of the fire that once burned there. “Transit Boogie,” on the other hand, is a forward-moving piece of ragtime nostalgia that delights in interlocking parts. “Vicissitudes” and “Pamela: At The Hawk’s Well” round out the solo ventures with introspections and intense descriptiveness. Moore’s single lone contribution is “Flagolet,” an overdubbed piece for bowed basses that grinds and twists its own sonic licorice.
“Duet,” the first in a handful of the same, marries these two uncompromising talents in such intuitive ways you’d swear they were separated at birth. Moore’s resonant bassing swims, keens, and prophesies at horsehair’s touch. Like a pinwheel tickled by the fringe of an incoming storm, his energies flourish in a whirl of colors. “Country” finds the bassist leaving deep pizzicato footprints along Karush’s sandy trail. The bluesy serration of this emerging path arcs beautifully into the late-night atmosphere of “Abstinence.” This masterful exchange of air and water finds likeminded release in “Triads,” which concludes with pointillist reflections at the keyboard from behind a David Darling-like gauze. The session’s crowning jewel, however, is “Violin Suite,” which places a smaller bow in Moore’s hands. Its flip-flopping of scratching and melodic itching makes for a sparkling field of contrast that pairs well with the Pifarély/Couturier vintage of Poros.
Sitting at a cerebral interstice between categories, Karush and Moore cover their cardinal bases and then some, leaving us in the end with one of the most wondrous JAPO sessions, period.
Ralph Towner with Glen Moore
Ralph Towner guitar, piano
Glen Moore bass
Paul McCandless oboe
Collin Walcott tabla
Recorded November 27/28, 1972 at Sound Ideas Studio, New York City
Engineer: George Klabin
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Essentially an Oregon album under a different name, Trios/Solos consists mainly of Ralph Towner originals culled from the group’s Vanguard sessions. The opening “Brujo” is anchored by Towner’s twelve mighty strings and the late Collin Walcott’s tabla stylings, leaving a winding crevice through which Glen Moore works his whimsical bass. “Noctuary” features Paul McCandless on oboe, soaring loosely through the Towner/Moore fulcrum before the trio ties itself into a tightly improvised not. The Bill Evans tune “Re: Person I Knew” stands out in a gorgeous rendition. Towner doubles on piano and 12-string—laying down a sound that would soon crystallize into his classic ECM album Solstice—as Moore lurks in the background. “Raven’s Wood” continues the same configuration, only this time with nylon, darkening its pastoral modality with nocturnal visions.
Despite the intimate wonders of these trios, the album’s titular solos abound with some of its most focused and furthest-reaching moments. Moore’s “A Belt Of Asteroids” is a curious one at that. Seeming at first out of place in its present company, it carefully peels open the album’s outer layers with every twang. The remainders feature Towner doing what he does best. Take the compact “Suite: 3×12,” a carefully thought out composition in which his palpable picking and love for harmonics shines through at every turn, not to mention his consistently progressive energy. The last of the three movements is more aggressive in its attack and wound around a precise rhythmic core. “Winter Light” is heavily steeped in 6-string nostalgia, lonely but content in its solitude. “1×12” is, by contrast, a run along a blazing trail. Lastly, we have “Reach Me, Friend,” a snapshot of expectation that breathes with audible resolve.
As the driving force behind the album, Towner’s technique is mellifluous as usual, forging an aerial sound that constantly surveys the untouched lakes shimmering below like mirrors in the brilliance of his execution. Despite the lush performances throughout, the imagery is all so viscerally sere. And while there is no danger in what we see, there remains a threat unseen, lingering just beyond the horizon, quelled only by the arrival of the morning sun.
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