Gallery: s/t (ECM 1206)

 

Gallery

David Samuels vibraharp, percussion
Michael DiPasqua drums, percussion
Paul McCandless soprano saxophone, oboe, english horn
David Darling cello
Ratzo Harris bass
Recorded May 1981 at Sound Ideas Studio, New York
Engineer: David Baker
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Another enigmatic outlier in the land of the as-yet-to-be-reissued, Gallery follows in the tender footsteps of First Avenue. Its talents are immediately sent skyward in “Soaring,” where the sprightly vibes of Dave Samuels find complement in bassist Ratzo Harris and cellist David Darling, both of whom roll off Michael DiPasqua’s delicate snare and cymbals like words from a poet’s tongue. Darling takes some of the album’s most gorgeous improvisatory turns here. His fluid lines continue in “Prelude,” a duet with Samuels that shares the same breath with “A Lost Game.” The latter is transitory, not unlike the album as a whole, playing out especially in the rhythmic crosspollination between vibes and drums, slung ever so delicately by the bass’s curves. Paul McCandless lays the gold foil of his own beauties with a soprano sax solo that takes this configuration to greater heights, surpassed only by the reflective cello that follows. “Painting” sounds like a Gavin Bryars ensemble piece, unfolding into the remnants of a Morton Feldman dream before awakening in the harmonic contract of a “Pale Sun.” On then does the “Egret” drop us in limpid vibrations, where only a hushed “Night Rain” shows us the final trail.

As the album’s title indicates, this music offers a row of artful images. Yet rather than guide us through a linear passage of creative relics, it brings that passage to us, so that we need only observe…and listen.

Adelhard Roidinger: Schattseite (ECM 1221)

 

Adelhard Roidinger
Schattseite

Adelhard Roidinger bass
Heinz Sauer tenor saxophone
Bob Degen piano
Harry Pepl guitar
Werner Pirchner vibraharp, marimba
Aina Kemanis voice
Michael DiPasqua drums, percussion
Recorded November 1981 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Engineer: Martin Wieland
Produced by Manfred Eicher

It’s unfortunate that Adelhard Roidinger only cut this one record for ECM. The Austrian-born Renaissance man seems to have been a perfect fit for the label, which by the time of this release (1982) had firmly established its aesthetic hold on the jazz market. Schattseite has a lush, airy sound that is always appealing, and what better way to draw us in than with the slow-moving “Fü Pfü.” The soloing is crisp all around: gorgeous vibe work from Pirchner, Pepl’s soft guitar licks, DiPasqua’s tender drumming, a fluid run from Sauer on tenor sax, and an alluringly pianistic turn from Degen all make for a crystalline opener, and Roidinger’s plaintive accompaniment pulls it all together with humility. There is much stopping and starting, as if the music were afraid to latch on to a memory it knows could be self-destructive. Next is “Lufti,” a delightfully overdubbed bass duet, interrupted by occasional glissandi for a playful effect. “Loveland” fades in on a sweet piano riff doubled by Aina Kemanis’s brassy vocals, evoking the distinctive sound originally forged on Return to Forever. Roidinger harmonizes with the lead motif, blending into another mercurial leap from Pirchner, this time on marimba, supported by a delicate repeat of the same progression sans voice. The fantastic sax solo and Metheny-esque picking lend even more elegance to the track’s progressive sound. “Stress” begins with a bowed electric bass, caressing the air like whale songs. Sauer introduces the main line, again doubled by Kemanis, before Roidinger steps in to offer some regularity, thereby allowing Deger more room to flex his fingers. “Ania” starts with laughter, or something like it. Out of this abstract pointillism comes an engaging chant, throughout which Pepl jauntily strums his way along. The album closes with its longest track, “When Earth Becomes Desert,” which steadily moves from haunting drones to an all-out improv-fest. The marimba is unusually present here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was miked differently, if not added in postproduction. The final minute brings us slowly back down with a gorgeous melody in tutti.

Although Schattseite does take a while to find its groove, whatever it may lack in drive it makes up for in atmosphere and melodic robustness. This is an album of exceptional sound and quality, and is like the audio equivalent of a scenic route: it may get you to the same destination, maybe even less efficiently, but its allure is such that by the time you near the end, you no longer care where you were going. In dire need of a reissue.