A Hidden Cello Surprise

I’ve been digitizing my CD collection very gradually. That is, it’s been three-and-a-half years and I’ve barely made it to “W.”

It’s not that the collection is so vast. It’s that the process holds my interest only in short spurts, followed by weeks of not really caring. Also, because of the noise involved with the CD burner, it’s not something I like to do while listening to music or even watching a baseball game.

Another thing that slows me down is that I’ve been lingering over certain CDs, rediscovering them or maybe really hearing them for the first time. Maybe I wasn’t paying much attention the first time around — or, maybe there are musicians or ideas on there that I wasn’t yet attuned to.

That’s what happened as I slipped Rob Wasserman’s Trios into the burner.

wasserman-triosMy collection includes a lot of rock music that I’ve become disinterested in, and this CD, while quite innovative as far as the classic rock crowd is concerned, is a good example. A critics’ favorite back in the ’90s, Trios was a project where Wasserman, a well known studio bassist, gathered unorthodox pairs of musicians and recorded a couple of original songs with each group. “White Wheeled Limousine,” with Bruce Hornsby and Branford Marsalis, was the song KFOG radio loved to play.

This is not the kind of CD I’ve been lingering over. I rip ’em for the same of completeness, then stick them back on the shelf.

Except in this case, as in so many other cases, the wrong metadata came up as I loaded the CD. I was going to have to enter each track manually. So I sighed and got to it, dutifully adding the guest artist’s names in parenthesis after each track title. (That’s how I prefer to catalogue these kinds of CDs. They are not “various artist” CDs. No, they are not.)

Well, here we go. Brian Wilson and Carnie Wilson. Check.

Elvis Costello and … Marc Ribot! Hey, that’s cool. Check.

Hornsby and Marsalis, check.

Edie Brickell and Jerry Garcia — ooo, I’d forgotten about those songs. They were cute. Check.

Matt Haimovitz and Joan Jeanrenaud …… wait, WHAT?!

Yes. Two of the tracks deep on “side two,” tracks I’d ignored back in the day, are instrumental trios with two cellists famous for championing new classical music. I really like both of these artists. I had Haimovitz and Jeanrenaud in my collection all those years ago, and I never knew it!

The songs are good, if not life-changing. “Gypsy 1” has Wasserman sticking to a bass pulse while the two cellos solo around a folky dance melody — I’m hearing more Irish than Gypsy in there. It’s reeling and circling and loads of fun, with both cellists adding lots of little frills and glissandos to make it even more peppy.

“Gypsy 2” is more serious, with a main theme that’s more Eastern European to my ears — more gypsy-like. The track is rewarding but lacks the ear-grabbing, A-side quality of “Gypsy 1.” You do get to hear Wasserman play a bowed solo toward the end, though.

They made for a fun listen.

But now, Trios is back on the shelf, and I’m moving on. If you’ll excuse me, I have to deal with a Widespread Panic CD that I never really did get into.

Playlist: July 17, 2009

KZSU playlist for Friday, July 17, 3:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

Rent Romus stopped by to talk about the Outsound New Music Summit coming up next week. All the artists involved had contributed tracks to a promotional CD for — well, for situations just like this one:

source: bonfiremadigan.com….. Bonfire Madigan was a KZSU fave when I first joined, in 1998. I’m happy to find out she’s still performing — didn’t realize she even opened for Laibach. She’s a singer who plays cello, producing brusque songs that you might call tough-fisted, rough-edged folk (really it’s closer to indie rock, but not as “rock” minded as Rasputina). On Friday, she’ll be performing a 36-minute piece, “Portrait of the Artist as a Transliminal Criminal,” with accompanying film. Her site describes it as a one-time-only event.

WireTapMusic did a profile of Madigan back in May.

….. Natto recorded a couple of CDs on the 482 label earlier this decade. They practice a calm sort of improvisation, often meditative and probably influenced by Pauline OliverosDeep Listening aesthetic. Philip Gelb on shakuhachi (Japanese wooden flute)

….. Richard Waters is the inventor of the waterphone. It’s the instrument that made the V-ger sounds in 1980’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (If you don’t know what I mean, DO NOT go rent the movie to find out. Just watch Wrath of Khan and pretend there were no Trek movies before that.)

….. I’m not familiar with Peter Kolovos, but Rent described his guitar playing as a combination of noise and “surgical precision.” Who could resist?

And, notes from the rest of the show:

source: delmark….. After the glorious experimentalism of her Xenogenesis Suite, Nicole Mitchell comes back to jazz form, with a mix of straightahead stuff and some world-music dabblings. Renegades features a subset of her Black earth Ensemble, focusing on the strings: violin, cello, bass (plus drums and Mitchell’s own flute, of course.)

….. Nancy Wright is a local R&B saxophonist. Friendly bar-jazz stuff; it’s not my type, but I played it as a nod to our blues DJ, Byrd of Paradise.

….. Whoever Libellula are, they put together a nice hour-long drone on this CD. I selected an excerpt where things shift and tumble a bit.

source: oxingale.com….. Matt Haimovitz is a cellist who puts out modern classical CDs on his own label. This disc of cello/piano pieces has some good dynamic stretches, exciting stuff. The piece I played is titled “Part I,” but it comes in two parts, so we heard part 1 of “Part I.” I like that.

….. Annea Lockwood once did a nifty CD, The Glass World, that featured the sounds of all manner of glass objects. Zach Wallace is likewise working with glass on Glass Armonica, but where Lockwood did lots of vignettes, Wallace works on long pieces. “5” has a droney, humming sound that’s I would guess comes from a bow stroked across the armonica (it’s one of these) which Wallace built himself out of wine glasses. Dusted has more to say here.

…..For the show’s final hour, I looked in the direction of outward-facing rock, inspired by the Bonfire Madigan track. (She’ll be performing a 36-minute piece during Friday’s “InterMedia” show for Outsound.) The 9-minute Eddie the Rat track was a particular highlight for me. Continue reading “Playlist: July 17, 2009”