Classical CD Reviews

JON GIBSON: “The Dance” = Jon Gibson, wind instruments/ Bill Ruyle, bongos/John Snyder, conch shell & rainstick – Orange Mt. Music

The required deep listening is worth it, eventually.

Published on September 27, 2013

JON GIBSON: “The Dance” = Jon Gibson, wind instruments/ Bill Ruyle, bongos/John Snyder, conch shell & rainstick – Orange Mt. Music

JON GIBSON: “The Dance” = Stalling Into Elation; Three Lives and Something; Extensions II; Down the Road; Song 3; Whistles and Dogs – Jon Gibson, wind instruments/ Bill Ruyle, bongos/ John Snyder, conch shell & rainstick – Orange Mt. Music OMM 7007, 58:38 (Distr. by Harmonia mundi) [8/13/13] ****:

Jon Gibson is one of the original members of the Philip Glass Ensemble, in which his role, along with Dickie Landry and Jack Kripl (to name but two) was to peal out those minutes and minutes of astonishingly difficult saxophone and flute arpeggiations and so forth that became the Glass hallmark. In his role as composer, Jon has released some recordings that were not a far cry from the minimalist style; such as his “Two Solo Pieces” which I heard many years ago. This set of works intended, in part, as dance pieces is a whole different deal, albeit a rewarding one.

Each work here does feature the amazing saxophone or flute or clarinet work of Gibson but in a much more subdued, deep, slowly evolving world somewhere in a Eastern-inspired, “new age” way.

The two opening works, Three Lives and Something and Stalling Into Elation were written for the Nina Winthrop dance company. These are trance-like works that do evolve slowly and utilize the wind music of Gibson, such as alto and bass flutes,  with several “found” sound sources to create a very mystical and evocative experience. Of the two, I enjoyed Three Lives and Something more but they both leave a lasting impression and conjure up imagery that makes one want to see the choreography.

Extensions II is a work that feels a bit more overtly inspired by the music of India and actually goes back to 1991, previously released on the Point label. This piece was not originally written for dance but does illustrate Gibson’s drawn out meditative style. Gibson comments, in his notes to this CD, that the subsequent Down the Road is a more recent work (2011) that also draws on several diverse sound sources; such as soprano sax and rainstick. This latter piece is a little more abstract; requires more patience than the others in that it develops so slowly.

This intriguing collection concludes with two shorter works. Song 3 is a vintage work from 1976 that uses solo soprano saxophone and utilizes both the circular breathing and some modes and phrasing which are ordinarily endemic to traditional Scottish bagpipe playing. The relatively brief Whistles and Dogs is a reflection of the sound experience the composer had in Mexico. One can hear the shades of indigenous flutes and ocarinas from several different street musicians that sort of intrude upon the space of the listener; there are also recorded dogs barking. That perspective or background knowledge is important, though, because this piece is easily the most “abstract” in this collection.

Job Gibson is a very talented musician and, clearly, a very creative person with a lot of experiences to rely on. This music is, indeed, some “deep listening.” If you just listen too casually, I suggest you will get nothing out of it. If you take the time to follow the timbres and harmonies and moods as they float in and out over a long period of time, it will be at least productive. If you already do like the music of various deep listening artists, like Steve Roach, Jon Hassell, Alexander Berne or even Lamonte Young; then you will certainly like this!

—Daniel Coombs

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