freedom & structure

keith gallasch: cutloose meets the noise

IMPROVISED ‘CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL’ MUSIC IS NOT EASILY FOUND IN AUSTRALIA, ALTHOUGH MANY A COMPOSER THESE DAYS OFFERS MUSICIANS PASSAGES IN WHICH TO IMPROVISE, ALBEIT WITHIN STRICT PARAMETERS. SYDNEY, HOWEVER, HAS IN THE NOISE A FINE ENSEMBLE OF IMPROVISERS WHO ON THIS OCCASION SUPPORTED CLASSICAL AND JAZZ CLARINETTIST AND SAXOPHONIST PAUL CUTLAN TO REALISE THREE OF HIS SEMI-IMPROVISED COMPOSITIONS, WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF JAZZ BASSIST BRETT HURST.

The first work, Times Past, “evok(ing) a time when the viola da gamba ruled the earth” (program note), was immediately engaging, double bass-propelled (including some ravishing glides), the baritonal bass clarinet soaring over string quartet moodiness. The piece was a prelude to the main work in the first half of the concert, Cutlan’s Across the Top Suite, inspired by travelling to north-eastern Australia. The four-part suite evoked vast spaces with floating melodic passages, ethereal harmonics and shimmering strings, and hints of more foreign landscapes—African, Bulgarian—and musical modes, Baroque and 19th century classical (recurrent sweet pizzicato). The last movement, Reconcile, signalled order and resolution but ended rather darkly—a melancholic admission perhaps that Reconciliation is not easily achieved.

After interval, Off the Beaten Track comprised four role- and task-based improvisations in which a wider range of techniques was applied to the instruments, yielding varying degrees of magical cohesion and exciting digressions, with some dynamic forays from Cutlan, gripping group glissandi, fine cello and bass entanglements, an abrasive violin and chugging viola encounter and some embracing, motoristic ostinato big band moments—Cutlan and Hurst weaving in and out of the shifting textures created by The NOISE. The concert concluded with Cutlan’s Perhaps Next Time—latin jazz-inflected, smooth and orchestral; you could see it in the uniform swing of the musicians’ bodies. A very satisfying concert, above all in its assaying of semi-structured improvisation by virtuosic musicians working as a confident ensemble.

New Music Network, Cutloose meets The NOISE, Paul Cutlan, Brett Hurst, The NOISE (Veronique Serret, Skye McIntosh, James Eccles, Oliver Miller); Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Aug 2

RealTime issue #111 Oct-Nov 2012 pg. 49

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

9 October 2012
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