Gravitones & Strings
Live At The BIMHUIS
See what I found in my mailbox: a CD - as per its title, recorded
live at the BIMHUIS
in Amsterdam - by a collective called Gravitones & Strings. The
real leader of the session is a clarinet player and composer whose name
sounds quite Italian to me, Augusto Forti (hence, the name of the label,
right?). Recorded by Dick Lucas, so of course we have a very clear,
expressive sound, on two different occasions (November 2000 and February
2003), by two different sets of players.
line-up is of the kind that's usually defined as "prestigious":
drums and percussions by Han Bennink and Michael Vatcher, violin by
Mary Oliver, cello by Tristan Honsinger and Alex Waterman and so on
(there is also Wilbert de Joode, one of my favourite double bass players
of the last few years). I'd say that the mixture of (quite unusual)
large quantities of string instruments such as ukelele, tenor ukelele,
banjo (two of them!), mandolin, lapsteel guitar and electric guitar
on one hand and the "classic Dutch line-up" instrumentation
- clarinet, cornet, violin, cello, double bass and percussion - on the
other is the feature that makes this work stand out.
about the music? To put it in a nutshell, it could be said to be a nice
mixture of a "light" version of the Instant Composers Pool
Orchestra (Misha Mengelberg is missing, and not only his piano) and
the Penguin Cafe Orchestra - listen to the arias, inspired by the Gagaku
music, of the opening track, Gasaku; the gentle, almost-folk theme of
Gasuto; and certain instrumental couplings - of banjo and guitar on
one hand and strings and winds on the other. Tasty themes, not at all
difficult to listen to, and improvisations which demonstrate - one more
time - how well these musicians can play in this kind of framework.
long track called Gasiform uses a svelte "swing with aplomb"
formula, with - it goes without saying - dynamic propulsion by Bennink.
Nice work by Forti on clarinet, Felicity Provan on cornet (also played
with a mute), Greg Moore on tuba, Joost Buis on lapsteel and Mary Oliver
on violin. But above all, it's the timbral mixture and the instrumental
couplings that are quite nice, and "imaginative con brio".
The lack of real surprises. Here every listener will have to decide
© Beppe Colli 2006
CloudsandClocks.net | May 12, 2006