Back Pages #9: How Chick Corea Ended Up on My Rock Mixtape

(The Back Pages series is explained here, where you’ll also find links to the other installments.)

Midday yesterday, I caught word that Chick Corea had died. So I made a plan for that evening: For the first time in years, I would spin my vinyl copy of Again and Again (Elektra, 1983).

It is by no means the most “free jazz” thing in Corea’s discography, nor a classic that the jazz scholars will tell you to hunt down. It isn’t even on Spotify. The album was a random purchase sometime in the very early ’90s, possibly even 1988 or ’89 — early in my jazz fandom, when I was still gathering my jazz education.

I’m fuzzy on the details, but I think I’d latched onto the Chick Corea Elektric Band first, during my smooth-jazz phase. That band was only a few years old but already felt dated, and the hairstyles and keytar weren’t helping. So I think I was looking for other Corea angles, but I had no compass to point me to classic piano albums like My Spanish Heart. (Later, I would rely on Len Lyons’ The 101 Best Jazz Albums — campy title, but it’s an excellent guide to jazz history.) Instead, I found Again and Again in a record store one day, and I was apparently in a buying mood.

Here’s how green I was: Despite the back cover listing the instruments Corea plays, by brand name, I didn’t realize all the keyboards would be electric. That probably didn’t bother me at the time. I just find it interesting to think that back then, I had no idea.

I do remember this album fondly, even though a lot of it was illegible to me at the time. It isn’t fusion; it’s more like modern jazz that happens to use electrified keyboards. The opening track, “Quintet #3,” pairs a sunny Latin jazz flute against a more abstract faux-funk phrase on electric piano. On first listen, I felt like I didn’t understand it, but I liked it enough to stick it on a mixtape despite its 9-minute length.

For me, mixtapes were ephemeral. I’d keep only five or six cassettes in rotation, entirely rock and pop (prog too), each with a lifespan of two or three months. They were intended primarily for singing along during car commuting, and they were also a way to “learn” tracks from new album acquisitions. I tried to craft these 45-minute tape sides as if they were real albums, which meant sequencing and pacing mattered. (I thought about these things even in my mainstream rock phase — signs of a college radio DJ to be.) Instrumentals had to be placed carefully, as they could feel like roadblocks, but the idea of a 9-minute quasi-abstract instrumental plopped into the early tracks of Side A appealed to me as an experiment. I did make it work, at least for my taste, and I remember keeping that tape in rotation for several more months than usual. That’s how “Quintet #3” stuck in my head, for decades.

But I hadn’t actually listened to the song, or the rest of the album, in years.

(That’s “Quintet #3” in that video. Whoever uploaded it didn’t get the track title down.)

Again and Again has neither the bombast nor the sweetness of Return to Forever. It’s enjoyably light without being sappy, with improvising spaces that are longer and freer that I remembered. Most likely, I’d tuned them out back when. Now I’m loving them. Side 2 is more open, with Corea spending most, possibly all, of his time on synthesizers. The sound is still dated but not harshly so, aided by the wide-sky exploration of the band alongside him. I’m particularly loving the way Carlos Benavent wanders on bass.

Side 1, in addition to “Quintet #3,” has a couple of melody-driven pieces with Corea sticking to the Fender Rhodes. It’s pleasant, but Side 2 captured my attention more.

I could dig so much further. I still haven’t spent enough time with Corea’s piano work. Return to Forever gets too sweet for me, but I sure do love it when they go into attack mode. (“Vulcan Worlds,” wow.) Right now, I’m spinning Circle’s Paris Concert (ECM, 1972), which more closely suits the mission of this whole blog. Being a jazz fan means chasing a lot of history, but it sure is a fun ride.

Sara Schoenbeck and Wayne Horvitz

Sara Schoenbeck and Wayne HorvitzCell Walk (Songlines, 2020)

Maybe I just don’t look in the right places, but I’m occasionally dismayed that I don’t see more recordings featuring bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck. She played with Jimmy Lyons! Free-jazz bassoon! She’s hung out with the SoCal improv crowd and recorded on pfMentum! What’s not to love?

OK, I exaggerate. Schoenbeck has had quite a lot of output in the 2010s. Like I said, I just haven’t looked in the right places. Last year, the Vancouver label Songlines turned out to be the right place.

Schoenbeck teamed up with legendary keyboardist Wayne Horvitz for an album of chamber music with spaces for improvisation and freedom. This isn’t out of the blue; the duo play chamber music as half of Horvitz’s Gravitas Quartet, and this album essentially pares down that sound. Cell Walk carries an even-handed mood and is full of polite silences, even during those bursts of improv.

(Gravitas Quartet — ah yes, another piece of Schoenbeck output, right where I wasn’t looking.)

The album feels like a classical recital, little bassoon-and-piano pieces with that concert-hall reverb. “Undecided” opens the album on with that serious air of a continual dance, winding its way through paths of unrepeating notes. The album is not all classical politeness, though. “We Will Be Silk” has the disjointed feel of an improvised piece, a stone carved into oblique angles, while “Tin Palace” briskly sets up a soloing space for Schoenbeck.

“The Fifth Day” is a melodic highlight with a hummable ending theme — a slow, pretty track that might be your “in” if you want to introduce the album to chamber-music-loving friends. It’s quite lovely.

Apple II Part II: George Lewis in 1984

George LewisRainbow Family (Carrier, 2020; recorded 1984)

Three years ago, I wrote about a 1984 experiment in computer-driven improvisation. George Lewis, then researching at France’s IRCAM, presented a concert of top-notch improvisers — Douglas Ewart, Joelle Leandre, Derek Bailey, and Steve Lacy — performing with three networked Apple II computers that controlled Yamaha synths.

The concert is now available as an album on France’s Carrier label. It’s a valuable document of this early moment in the history of computer music. You have to excuse the limitations of computer sound at the time (try not to think of Tom Baker-era Doctor Who) but the computer element does work. Or, maybe it’s that the high-caliber musicians — Joëlle Léandre, Douglas Ewart, Derek Bailey, and Steve Lacy — are able to make it work.

The three Apple IIs don’t just bleep randomly. Lewis programmed them to take the (analog) musicians’ choices as input and make digital decisions to create output, including an option to add some randomness (i.e., to play freely). The source code Lewis used is lost, unfortunately, but his recollections of the strategies provide some useful insight in the CD liner notes. The programs did have a way to create a chunk of music from scratch, without inputs, and Lewis infers that this is how some of the pieces start.

Whether real or perceived, the computers manage to create some sublime moments of communication. Léandre’s duet includes a nice stretch where she’s calmly following the computers’ cues, but when she takes control, the machines respond with an anthemic burst.

Lewis had conceived of the three computers developing distinct personalities. What he found, though, was that the human musicians kept thinking of their bandmates as “The” computer. Same here, I have to admit. (See how I just called Léandre’s piece a “duet.”) It’s an interesting test of human perception.

Of course, the humans’ personalities and choices lead to specific characteristics for some of the pieces. Ewart produces a piece that is both forceful and calm, drifting like a Calder mobile and creating some of the most neatly matched improvising of the album. Bailey’s low-key piece features a stretch of harmonics that tease out some pleasant tone-tinkering from the computers.

The album culminates with a group session — all four humans, all three computers. It starts at a cautious pace, with the humans avoiding the “spew” factor that a group of this size can create. As the activity builds up, the computers seem to know to sometimes stay out of the way. Here’s a particularly noisy section with the humans taking the lead; the Apple IIs slip into the mix with small chimes and shimmers that get more assertive as the humans back down. It feels organic. Whether that’s excellent foresight on the part of Lewis the coder or just a lucky happenstance, we’ll never know — but Lewis’ knowledge and experience certainly increased the probability of these kind of moments.

You can sample and purchase the album on Bandcamp. I’m especially partial to Douglas Ewart’s piece.

Back Pages #8: Through the Hill

Andy Partridge and Harold BuddThrough the Hill (Gyroscope/All Saints, 1994)

The Back Pages series was supposed to track music that had a particular story for me, mostly from the timeframe when I began earnestly delving into creative music. I don’t have much of a story for this one. But after the recent passing of Harold Budd, I started thinking about Through the Hill for the first time in years, and I realized this album taught me fundamental things about my passion for discovering and collecting music.

The album follows Budd’s aesthetic of lingering beauty, maybe with brighter melody and faster tempos. It’s a true collaboration, with Budd and Partridge (XTC guitarist whose fantastic pop songwriting includes some creative outer-ring stuff) sharing composing duties. The music is keyboard-based, with acoustic or electric guitars popping up here and there. Partridge adds occasional wordless vocals. On three tracks, Budd recites short poetry pieces written by Partridge.

What I loved, though, was the organization and the packaging. If you remember my geeking out about the structure and symmetry of Kris Davis’ Duopoly album, I had the same kind of reaction to Through the Hill.

The album’s 16 pieces are organized into three units: Geography, Structures, and Artifacts — with four “Hand” pieces acting as the joints between them, like Robert Wilson’s Knee Plays. Each song title is a vaguely mystical reference to an imagined place, building, or object.

Through the Hill, back cover.

The groupings resemble the chapters in Italo Calvino’s Imaginary Cities (which itself was apparently influenced by Georges Perec and the Oulipo writing/mathematics social collective, and here I’m reaching my limit of literary knowledge).

Inside the CD case, each of the three units gets a fold-out card, with each piece represented by an image from J.G. Heck’s The Complete Encyclopedia of Illustration. Taken from antiquity, the pictures add to the abstract, mystical “story” the album seems to outline, and the general lack of human figures suggests empty spaces suitable for this quiet, blanketing music.

“Through the Hill” [from “Geography”]

I studied this album, in the sense that I listened by imagining that these “chapters” had meaning, with themes revealed in the music itself. I didn’t really expect to find anything; even the Hand pieces don’t seem to have a common thread. But it made the music into a journey, and it drew the physical album’s organization and presentation into the listening experience.

“The Place of Odd Glances” [from “Structures”]

And I just savored those titles. “Missing Pieces to the Game of Salt and Onyx” is not my favorite track musically — it’s based on a slow acoustic guitar riff that’s appropriately quirky but not enough to grab me — but… that title!

The CD wasn’t available for long, and therein lies my story. My first reaction at seeing it in the store, being familiar with both Partridge and Budd, was, “Well, I wonder what that even is.” Seeing it on multiple trips to the store spurred another thought: “When that thing’s gone, you might never hear of it again.”

“Bronze Coins Showing Genitals” [from “Artifacts,” featuring Budd’s voice]

I took a chance. Through the Hill would not make my Top 10 list musically, but it’s one of the prized gems in my collection. It was the beginning of the lesson that vinyl records and even CDs are physical souvenirs, collectables, just like baseball cards other trinkets. Much as I’m not proud of caring about physical objects, I have to admit that owning albums makes me happy. I certainly can’t afford to grab up every souvenir I come across — but that’s part of the fun: being discriminating, making choices, taking the occasional leap of faith. My mom loves to duck into antique stores, and it frustrated us as kinds, especially since she never seemed to buy anything. Now I can relate.

What’s changed for me since the ’80s and ’90s is that I now know the emotion that comes from owning something for a long time. My high school and college-era records are filled with trapped memories — not just the music, but also the flow of everything else happening in my life at the time. There are some records that I love and will never play until some major life event puts me in need of healing or reminiscing. Because just as playing vinyl wears down the grooves, opening and admiring and hearing those records will wear down those memories and mix them with the present. What matters isn’t the permanence of the object, but the threads of history clinging to it.

Circles Within Circles Within Denman Maroney’s Head

Denman MaroneyMartingale (self-released, 2020)

I’m familiar with Denman Maroney through his work with hyperpiano — prepared piano that adds a dynamic element, such as applying a metal bowl as a “slide” on the strings. Martingale employs a different kind of tinkering. It uses jazz composition as its starting point, in an upbeat quartet format, but things are awry. It’s dis-aligned jazz.

The underlying complexity comes from polyrhythms — or what Maroney calls temporal harmony, with instruments tracking different rhythmic cycles, such as three-over-two or five-over-four. The foundation is often single-note rhythms rather than chords, and while I found myself craving the jazzy sound of chords, their absence builds a lightness (as in, the opposite of density) that helps my ears track the multiple cycles spooling out. Even on a casual listen, you can feel a geometry in the music, and Maroney provides enough room to take a peek at the schematic, revealing the cycles within cycles.

The thickest stack of time layers — six of them, apparently — is in the title track, which opens the album. “Martingale” takes a patient approach, building energy while maintaining enough space to discern the rhythms.

The album doesn’t come across as mathematical. “New One Two” builds from what sounds like a simple keyboard riff, except its repetitions are constantly shifting — an innocent rhythm, bouncing like a tumbleweed. Then there’s “Sea Set Wheat” (a play on words: six, sept, huit would be 6:7:8 in French), which coaxes a swinging rhythm out of polyrhythmic cycles. Players then break off into a free improvisation, and it’s tempting to think that they might be staying in their respective polyrhythmic times while doing so. (I don’t actually believe this, but it’s fun to imagine.)

I feel like I also have to mention “Off Centerpiece,” which takes the skeleton of the jazz standard “Centerpiece” and disjoints it.

For another taste of polyrhythms, the band Kronomorfic has a sound even more deeply steeped in conventional free jazz (now there’s an oxymoron). Their 2010 release features a sextet including vibraphone and sax. And in 2015, the not-so-conventional piano trio Dawn of Midi released Dysnomia, a through-composed album based on hypnotically chill cycles. I got to see them perform it live. The piano’s minimal, chordless touch — essentially becoming a percussion instrument — combined with acoustic bass and drums made for a spellbinding set.

Kyle Bruckmann, Live from CNMAT

Some weeks back, CNMAT live-streamed a solo Kyle Bruckmann concert — oboe, English horn, and/or electronics — performed at their studio in Berkeley. With multiple camera angles and video cards that provide the program notes, it’s a professionally produced set that made for a satisfying afternoon show — one you can relive on YouTube.

Bruckmann played five pieces in the experimental/avant-classical vein, including two of his own, including a world premiere.

Linda Bouchard’s “DROP” (2018) magnified the sound of air through the tube of the oboe (or English horn; I didn’t try hard enough to discern them), turning a whispery sound source into an avalanche. The piece progressed into a cavalcade of extended technique — lots of circular breathing, buzzing rows of notes, and klaxon blares — creating a space full of urgency, a voice a rush to speak.

A quick dose of more conventional oboe playing was featured in “Arachne” (2013) by Helen Grime. The composition follows the Greek myth of a woman eventually turned into a spider, and it appropriately ended with a scurrying of small high notes.

Bruckmann’s own “A Spurious Autobiography for John Barth” (2015), which appears on his Triptych album, produced the concert’s first full dose of electronics, with an overhead camera capturing the view of Bruckmann’s pedals and wires. The piece addresses the pitfalls of solo improvisation — falling into “the same damn things over and over again,” as Bruckmann writes in the program notes, by having a computer spit back fragments of Bruckmann’s 2000 solo album, entymology. His job is to react.

It’s fun watching this kind of “game” play out in real time. The oboe fragments came out in processed form, sometimes chopped up, sometimes blurred or smeared, sometimes spotty like a radio drifting out of range. Bruckmann built a rushed chaos out of it all, ending with a calm finish and a touch of “pure” unadulterated oboe sound.

The first of the premiere pieces was Hannah A. Barnes’ “Dis/inte/gration,” based on electronics playing back the oboe “through a phase vocodor at (impossibly) slow speeds.” That meant long tones occasionally coming back like long-ago echoes, ghostly and ringing. As Bruckmann sped up the pace, the feedback started feeling more like an urgent dialogue with voices from some other plane.

One of the on-screen cards that served as program notes.

For his own premiere composition “Proximity,” Bruckmann disassembled the oboe, removing the mouthpiece and blocking the other end with his hand. With the help of electronics, he built a narrative of sounds — deep didjeridoo tones and ultra-high hearing-test notes in unison, followed by successive plateaus of mood ranging from electronic scribbles to calm, slow brushstrokes of air. Apparently inspired by our current “gerbil ball” state of existence (Bruckmann’s phrase, and a good one), “Proximity” felt intimate, full of close, small gestures.

Deeper in the CNMAT archives is another of Bruckmann’s solo concerts, this time from 2017 with a live audience. You can view that one here.

Larry Ochs and Aram Shelton

Larry Ochs & Aram Shelton QuartetContinental Drift (Clean Feed, 2020)

Aram Shelton was a fixture on the Bay Area scene before moving overseas, first to Copenhagen and more recently to Budapest. He teams up with ROVA stalwart Larry Ochs on Continental Drift, a free-jazz session where we get to listen in on distant friends enjoying one another’s company. The album has a bright, flowing energy, aided by drummer Kjell Nordeson, another familiar face on the local scene, and two bassists — Mark Dresser or Scott Walton — who rounded out the quartet during the two separate recording sessions, five years apart, that make up the album.

Ochs and Shelton alternate composing duties track-by-track, emphasizing their contrasting styles — Ochs tending toward rougher textures and abstract territory, Shelton often starting closer to traditional jazz forms but bending them to his taste. Ochs’ “Slat” delves into more abstract territory and a freer improvisation — some terrific sparring here between the two horns — whereas Shelton’s “Switch” shows off his trademark blend of modern composing and aggressively swingy rhythm.

Shelton puts a sweet composure into “Anita.” But even that track goes off the melodic rails after a while; it’s far from sappy. Ochs shows off his snappy sense of rhythm on the outright catchy “Strand,” which starts innocuously but builds into a furious group jam that eventually stops on a dime, a nice dramatic moment.

Shelton and Ochs mix well and it’s often hard to tell who has played or even composed which pieces. (For me, anyway. My ear for different musical styles is still a work in progress.) They combine for a tremendous, hard-digging double solo during “The Others Dream,” Ochs’ 19-minute closer. That one feels epic, opening with somber drumming and Ochs’ ecstatic sopranino solo, then later getting into a hard-driven segment that also feels wide open, a broad landscape unrolling.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve met most of these players in person, but the whole set just feels friendly, with an optimistic outlook. Composition-led free jazz is alive and well, and it’s a soothing balm against stressful times. Shelton and Ochs execute well on Continental Drift, but more importantly, it feels like everyone is having fun. That kind of thing comes across on a record.

I Miss Live Shows (But You Knew That)

Craig Taborn New Trio, at Roulette. From left: Ches Smith, Mary Halvorson, Taborn.

There’s no ignoring the devastation COVID-19 has laid on musicians’ livelihoods. On a more selfish note, it’s also put a pause on live music. I’m trying to buy more recordings, but I do miss live shows. Not just seeing them, which I was doing less frequently anyway — I miss reading about shows, even just looking at tour schedules of all the shows I wouldn’t be able to see anyway. It all gave me a sense of activity, of Things Going On Out There, that I found inspiring.

Virtual concerts are not the same, but there are some good sincere efforts happening. Karl Evangelista and Rei Scampavia of Grex have organized a few Lockdown Festivals. I caught the third installment recently, which included a Grex set featuring their terrifically cool new album, Everything You Said Was Wrong, and an archival concert recording of Jordan Glenn’s sax/drums trio Wiener Kids. The three Lockdown Festivals are archived on YouTube. Each set was broadcast to the performers’ own channels, but you can find links here and here.

Noise is one musical form that works rather well in social isolation, given that so many acts are solos or duos anyway. You don’t get to feel the noise, but it still works. The Godwaffle Noise Pancakes series (“pancakes” is literal; they do live brunch shows, as I understand it) is continuing on Twitch. Bran(Pos), aka Jake Rodriguez, has been broadcasting shows at soundcrack.net and archives them in podcast form.

Virtual shows do have an upside. I couldn’t have traveled to Brooklyn to see Craig Taborn, Mary Halvorson, and Ches Smith playing at Roulette. It was part of JazzFest Berlin, which split between Germany and New York and included pre-recorded clips of some of the acts. Had this festival not gone virtual, I would never have found the Philipp Schiepek Quartett, whose set I enjoyed quite a bit.

Still, it’s not the same. This issue has come up in my day job, where real-life conferences have been replaced by virtual ones, or even pre-recorded talks. It’s stupefying. At least with a concert, experiencing it at a distance isn’t a far cry from catching the video a couple of years after the fact. I’d previously enjoyed a lot of Tim Berne’s work from the 2010s that way. It’s a diluted experience, but the music is there.

Humans thrive on shared experience, whether it’s in a movie theater or at a music show, whether it’s a World Series crowd or just a few of us at an improv show in an art gallery. We all miss it. That’s no reason to get impatient with lockdown — please don’t go out of your way to make things worse, like they’ve done in other parts of the United States! — but the sadness is understandable. Just look back at 1918 and realize we’ve been here before (it’s never been correct to call this “unprecedented”) and that we’ll all be back together at shows, eventually. For now, I’ll get ready to check out Kyle Bruckmann’s CNMAT solo online recital in a few hours.

Back Pages #7: Matthew Shipp, Symbol Systems

(The Back Pages series is explained here, where you’ll also find links to the other installments.)

Banner for the Knit in its second home, the one I visited. Photo: Alicia Bay Laurel, aliciab4.com

On my first visit to the Knitting Factory, I needed a souvenir. This was the late ’90s, after the club had become famous as New York’s avant-jazz nexus, and I was quick to fall in love with it — the multiple performance stages, the free music at the basement bar, the (to me) gritty feel of TriBeCa. Oh, and the fliers stacked on tables and posted on walls, DIY photocopies advertising midweek gigs in unknown lofts and art spaces. This was my first exposure to a live-music scene. Shortly after, I would be tapping the Bay Area’s own scene heavily, but this was my first glimpse of this whole new universe. I needed a souvenir.

So I stared at the shelves of CDs for sale. Tim Berne was my touchstone, so maybe something different — something away from the saxophone direction. Piano, maybe, especially once the cover of Symbol Systems (No More, 1996) caught my eye. It promised the kind of abstract language that I wanted to explore. That’s the one that I took home. 

Symbol Systems has been rereleased on Hatology, but for me, this minimal abstract album cover will always be the “real” one.

On first listen, I remember Symbol Systems feeling truly alien, brimming with this rich new vocabulary. From the clipped chords that open “Clocks,” to the wandering lines later in the piece, to the machine-like hammering in “Harmonic Oscillator,” to the fluid babble of the title track.

I think it helped that Shipp’s instrument is piano, because that meant no microtones. The album doesn’t even feature extended techniques or prepared piano, as I recall. That made it easier to explore. All these years later, the “alien” feeling has worn off — I’m accustomed to the idiom’s of Shipp’s unique language, like the heavy notes matched with the sustain pedal, and the dialects of avant-garde and free improv aren’t as alien to me. But back then, the album was an exciting trip into the unknown.

Excerpt from “Clocks”

I don’t remember the exact timing of all this. This visit must have happened in 1996 or 1997, when my new job led to a week in New York, my first trip on my own, and I took advantage of the summer evenings as much as possible. I might have already heard David S. Ware’s Cryptology by then, as it was the lead album review in a Rolling Stone issue circa 1995, and I’d eventually been intrigued enough to eventually try it out (but too green to really digest it). If that’s the case, maybe I bought Symbol Systems because I recognized Shipp’s name.

Of course, my memories of the Knitting Factory are romanticized. I arrived on the downside of its peak. And while I loved the idea of a club built to foster the avant-jazz scene, it turns out to have all been a happy accident that we have Wayne Horvitz to thank for. Check out the oral history that Jazz Times ran in May.

A Vast Collage Curated by Laura Jurd

Laura JurdStepping Back, Jumping In (Edition, 2019)

Trumpeter Laura Jurd might be best known for her quartet Dinosaur, which mixes creative jazz with a pop aesthetic. It’s decent stuff, quite hip. But Stepping Back, Jumping In is a different animal: a tumult of ideas from Jurd and four other composers, drawing from a rich pool of creativity.

Commissioned by King’s Place in London and featuring 15 musicians in various combinations, Stepping Back does have a cohesive sound, a brainy jazz approach with a sense of humor. Jurd opens the album with her composition “Jumping In,” a multi-paneled mural full of swirling colors, complete with banjo. The hyperactive opening really does jump in, and the piece doesn’t let go from there, seemingly piling on with ideas from every corner of Jurd’s brain.

Strings feature heavily. The Ligeti Quartet, who worked with Jurd on Landing Ground (Edition, 2012), contribute a variety of textures, including elements of circus-y classical, the folk-tinged whimsy common in European jazz. The Ligetis are not just an adornment, but the core fiber of some pieces.

“Ishtar” builds a spare but bustling landscape where crooked and/or whimsical denizens pass by — it’s almost like surreal people-watching. Elliott Galvin composed that one (he and the other Dinosaur members appear in various spots on the album) and contributes and a lush piano solo. “Companion Species,” composed by Anja Lauvdal and Heida K. Johannesdottir, starts with a hailstorm of prepared piano and a Bitches Brew-style flash mob jam, before jumping into a funky groove that gets fusion-proggy toward the end.

The album is not all frantic. “I Am the Spring, You Are the Earth,” composed by Soosan Lolavar, is more about a feeling than any specific melody. Jurd’s trumpet joins the strings and a percussionist for what feels like a guided improvisation, with the sound blooming like the gradual, gentle ending of a long winter. Jurd displays a more conventional type of composing on “Jump Cut Shuffle,” a straight string quartet (by modern standards) based on a catchy recurring melody — but it’s neither staid nor straightforward.

For more about Jurd: All About Jazz ran an interview in May, discussing composition, the formation of Dinosaur, and influences from Stravinsky to Deerhoof.