“Thrash – Music for Saxophone and Electric Guitar” – ERIC SCHWARTZ: Thrash; GREGORY WANAMAKER: Three Episodes; DAVID CLAMAN: Aasi Neelaavey; JOHN ANTHONY LENNON: Spiral Mirrors; DOROTHY CHANG: In Quiet Light; MICHAEL DJUPSTROM (arr): Sejdefu Majka Budase; WHITNEY ASHE: Greetings From the Rock; BRIAN COUGHLIN: Early Autumn Lightning – Christopher Creviston, saxophone/Oren Fader, elec. guitar – White Pine Music (Central Michigan U.) WPM232, 65:25 (11/19/13) ****:
I have been well past impressed with the saxophone work of Chris Creviston for a while now. In addition to his almost inhuman technical skills, Chris has a knack for finding interesting, cutting-edge repertoire to showcase his instrument and the composers who write for it.
I have also always been impressed with flashy, highly skilled guitar playing, although this is an artistry I know less about. (For example, I think people like Yngwie Malmsteen are also not quite of this world) This collection of flashy, intricate and – occasionally – bizarre works for sax and guitar will absolutely get your attention. It will bring you wide awake in places if needed, too.
For example, the jazzy, quirky Thrash by Eric Schwartz is a really perky work that sounds a bit like hard core jazz improv that kind of channels bad spy-movie music in places. You get a similar “in your face” feel from Brian Coughlin’s Early Autumn Lightning. There are moments in both of these pieces that simply demand to be played loud. There is a kind of rock back beat in the latter that really grabs your attention.
The brief but highly attractive Aasai Neelaavey by David Claman is a wonderfully meandering work that has its title in Tamil origins (I believe) and a sound that evokes middle-eastern music. I enjoyed this work a lot.
On the quieter side, Three Episodes by Greg Wanamaker has a playful, jazzy feel to it that I admired, as do a lot of Wanamaker’s works. Whitney Ashe’s Greetings From the Rock has a sultry, lyrical feel that evokes a night-club atmosphere that I admired.
Sejdefu Majka Budase (“Sejdefu’s Mother Wakes Her”) is a traditional Balkan melody, probably from what is now Bosnia. Michael Djupstrom wrote a flute and piano arrangement of this plaintive, somewhat sad, melody in addition to the version heard here. This beautiful little tune offers a complete departure from most of the music in the collection.
Dorothy Chang’s In Quiet Light offers a similar dark, tranquil sound that also has undercurrents of unrest. One gets a similar feel in Spiral Mirrors by John Anthony Lennon, although, this work has a forward motion that makes it want to break loose as it progresses with touches of Eastern modality, it seems.
All of the music in this eclectic collection was new to me and a very exciting discovery. Chris Creviston and Oren Fader are both amazing performers with a true symbiosis at work. This collection really has something for everyone. Moments in Thrash and Early Autumn Lightning will absolutely wake you up and get you going. However, the works by Lennon, Djupstrom or Claman are more of the sit-back-and-relax type. This is one of the most creative and rewarding collections of the totally unusual I have ever experienced!
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