Monday, September 16, 2019



Antoine Beuger -  traces of eternity: of what is yet to be (A New Wave of Jazz)

Antoine Beuger - Now is the moment to learn hope (A New Wave of Jazz)

There have been quite a few releases of Beuger's music over the past several years and it's an odd,  and very pleasurable thing to consider them en masse. On the one hand, his music is so diaphanous, so air-suffused that you'd think it might be difficult (not to mention unnecessary) to differentiate  them mentally. On the other, they're always very different. There's that old AMM aphorism: "as alike or unalike as trees" that conveys something of my feelings about Beuger's work.

In his liner notes, Guy Peters writes that "traces of eternity...",  inspired by David Patterson's 'Hebrew Language and Jewish Thought', takes the form of a 288-page score with minimal notation on each page, the performer able to dip in and out as desired, to interpret as seen fit. Pianist Dante Boon, one of the very finest proponents of Beuger's music (as well as that of many other composers associated with the Wandelweiser collective) chose to begin where he'd previously left off on his own journey through the score. Single notes are struck, pure and lambent, strings gently caressed, suspended in silence, or near-silence as the rooms is heard, faintly, as are adjustments by Boon, including pedaling. As is often the case with Beuger's music, there's a combination of spareness and, if not always apparent, sensual beauty, a resilient softness and warmth. The connective tissue is gossamer but  surprisingly strong. Now and then, the piano sounds more forcefully, deeply; once in a while a fragment of a melody emerges, but just as a glimmer, something seen out of the corner of one's eye (or ear), then vanishing as the music flows past, around the corner. The same and different. Boon's  degree of sensitivity is profound, pacing the work perfectly, varying his approach subtly, maintaining the piece's vibrating sense of life throughout, reading his text. One only hopes that, someday, the work might be heard in its entirety.

'Now is the moment to learn hope' is performed by the Extradition Ensemble (Loren Chasse, bell; Brandon Conway, classical guitar; Sage Fisher, harp; Matt Hannafin, bowed crotales; Branic Howard, bowed guitar; Evan Spracht, alto trombone). The listener is immediately immersed into the general environment fulling of falling water and clouds of ambient sound. The music is more forthright, kind of oozing through the space, a thicker liquid bleeding through a thinner one. Brief but forceful guitar and harp chords are offset by longer, more languid tones from the trombone, bowed guitar and crotales. The music, already rich at the start, seems to slowly intensify, though more likely it's the listener's aural acuity growing more and more perceptive as the piece unfurls. Car horns sound, engines; the bowed portions attain greater depth, denser sonority, though as on the earlier work, the music maintains a steady character, flowing and changing/remaining the same, traffic closing out the set. A moving, enveloping experience.

Two wonderful recordings.

A New Wave of Jazz

A New Wave of Jazz (bandcamp)


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