Brass Fantasy


LA LEGGE E’UGUALE PER TUTTI
VORTEX WALTZ

Laboratorio della Quercia
Laboratorio della Quercia
Horo : 1978

Alberto Corvini, Enrico Rava, Kenny Wheeler, trumpet; Danilo Terenzi, Roswell Rudd, trombone; Massimo Urbani, Steve Potts, alto sax; Steve Lacy, soprano sax; Tommaso Vittorini, baritone sax; Evan Parker, soprano & tenor sax; Maurizio Giammarco, soprano & tenor sax, flute; Frederic Rzewski, Martin Joseph, piano; Irene Aebi (“Aeby”), Tristan Honsinger, cello; Kent Carter, Roberto Bellatalla, bass; Noel McGhee, Roberto Gatto, Paul Lytton, drums, percussion.

Imagine the audience. They’ve gathered on a hot July night in Rome and sit facing a 20-piece orchestra of such formidable firepower — American jazz masters such as Lacy, Potts, Rudd, and Aebi, European improv titans including Wheeler, Parker, Honsinger, and Rava, plus composer Frederic Rzewski (of the great Coming Together) thrown in for good measure — it’s hard to properly absorb the enormity of the moment.

Sorry, did we say orchestra? This configuration calls themselves a laboratory — and though none of them are wearing lab coats a la Lester Bowie, they’ve gathered on this night for some serious experiments with sound. They’ve chosen to use the largest possible canvas for their explorations, breaking out eleven horns for its impressive frontline. But despite its sprawling membership, this laboratory proves expert at using space.

Sorry, did we say sound experiments?
That sounds so dry and daunting — and these tunes are nothing of the sort. The theorems this laboratory tests involve the audience’s pleasure, stretching and remolding and occasionally breaking conventional forms in order to find new ways to pump excitement into, well, let’s not be ashamed to use the word: Jazz.

You won’t be sorry to click on “La Legge,” a dramatic 6-minute march full of scattered solos. Halfway through, the players vocally count off as the tune veers into more swinging and abstract terrain before being absorbed by the melody. It goes by like a breeze — and it’s a bagatelle next to the 15-minute “Vortex Waltz.” That piece opens with a solo from Roswell Rudd that’s slowly engulfed by the collective. The waltz part comes in the patient ebb and flow of interplay, while Evan Parker’s roiling solo brings the vortex. Throughout there’s a cohesive texture, internal logic, and pointed restraint. They could have rung down the heavens or blown a hole through the audience, but instead they drop pure science.

What’re some of your favorite big band pieces and/or sonic laboratories? Tell us in the comments. 

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