(JoDa Locust Street Music)
The new year is a time for starting afresh but with an eye on the past, so let’s do both those things by getting low down with tuba master Joseph Daley.
Daley has filled the tuba chair in the large ensembles of Carla Bley, Gil Evans and Charlie Haden as well as shouting the blues with Taj Mahal, but before all that he was a crucial part of Sam Rivers’ bands, and Sam’s own Tuba Trio in particular. This album is dedicated to Sam and Bea Rivers and the “inspiring times” Daley spent in their RivBea Studios in New York.
With Daley on tuba, euphonium and processed sounds is the original Rivers Tuba Trio third man, Warren Smith, on all maner of drums and percussion, especially tuned percussion, while taking the Rivers role on saxophone and flute is Scott Robinson (recently heard in Birmingham with the Maria Schneider Orchestra), though he expands the instrumentation to all kinds of woodwinds, from bass sax to alto clarinet and bass flute, with a little theremin in there for good measure.
Daley has stressed that while Rivers is the inspiration and his presence is felt throughout the album, with one exception – Beatrice – the tunes are Daley’s and the music this trio’s.
That music ranges wide and free, from churning, busy sections to space-filled, reflective interludes. The range of instruments gives great variety of timbre and soundscape and provides continued interest through the near 70-minute duration. Indeed, when it comes to an arsenal of instruments we’re more in the Art Ensemble of Chicago neck of the woods.
At the album’s centre is the 20 minute-plus Terrarium which Daley describes as “prepared sound textures as a colour palette for development by each member of the ensemble”. It opens with marimba and then a whole world opens up through the sounds Daley is processing. There are shades of rising tones near the start that remind me of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra but the music that follows is just as anchored in a jungleland as it is in the intergalactic space of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the film which memorably featured that Strauss theme. It’s an amazing piece.
Overall this album takes the sounds produced by three very gifted improvising multi-instrumentalists and expands it into a whole universe of music. Inspiring.
Categories: CD review