|Photo: Aubrey Edwards|
here). Asher's recording is composed of five original pieces, with most of them including pre-recorded voices, old recordings, excerpts from musician interviews, etc. The first track, "Blues Obligato", opens with the ensemble quietly in the background as recordings by Bessie Smith, King Oliver, Mamie Smith, and others weave together in a sound collage. Slowly the ensemble takes over with various instruments rising to the top of the mix. When that section is concluded, the three clarinet players play an unaccompanied somber melody for a moment before James Singleton's funky bass and Steve Glenn's sousaphone mesh with drummer James Thibodeaux to create a funky rhythm. The main melody, really one long line repeated over and over by different instruments with a touch of counterpoint, slowly opens up for a solo section that features a call-and-response featuring the clarinet of Aurora Nealand and the trombone of Emily Frederikson. The other front lines return and we hear a collective improvisation.
|Illustration: John Churchill, 1977|
"Byron Asher's Skrontch Music" was issued in late October 2019; it's musical and emotional impact will last for years. Byron Asher did his homework and created this suite of music that encompasses the width and breadth of both the history and music of New Orleans (from the Jazz Age forward). Listen closely – there's much to be learned from all the voices that will move into your ears and your consciousness.
For more information, go to byronasher.com.
Here's a taste of this fine music:
Byron Asher, clarinet and tenor saxophone, compositions
Ricardo Pascal, clarinet and tenor saxophone
Aurora Nealand, clarinet and alto saxophone
Reagan Mitchell, soprano and alto saxophones
Shaye Cohn, cornet
Emily Frederickson, trombone
Oscar Rossignoli, piano
Steve Glenn, sousaphone
James Singleton, upright bass
Paul Thibodeaux, drumset
"Meeting In Progress" is the work of three friends, musicians who listen and respond to each other without making a big deal about being technically impressive. No one voice is more important than any other – the trio's objective is to weave their life experiences into this music and see how it resonates with the listener. Nutria, the animal, lives on riverbanks, often congregates in large colonies, is mostly a herbivore, and can be dangerous to local landscapes. Nutria, the New Orleans-based trio, creates a musical environment hospitable to those willing to take the time to test the waters and then dive in!
For more information, go to www.nutriamusic.com.
Here's the title track: