Monday, January 07, 2013

Confusion Bleue - East Side Banquet (Ictus Records, 2013)

The group Confusion Bleue is named after an album by pianist Nobu Stowe, and the group continues to develop a form of free improvisation that develops a sense of dramatic intensity while maintaining control on their journey through sound. The music has some gentle scaffolding or structure, but the performances are still allowed considerable space to develop in a more organic fashion like growing crystals that change and develop their shape time flows by. This album is a seven part improvised suite, presented out of order and performed by Stowe on acoustic and electric piano, Ray Sage on drums, Ross Bonadonna on guitar, alto saxophone and bass clarinet, Lee Pembleton on sound(?), Brian Groder on trumpet and flugelhorn and Lisle Ellis on bass. "Movement V" opens the album in an upbeat fashion featuring trumpet and bass clarinet chased by fast drumming. The piano enters late into the performance, with strong drums and guitar joining the fray as the music builds ever more intense. Fast paced, "Movement III" has a multi-hued sound with subtle electric piano shading. Stowe shifts gears to acoustic piano, leading the group into an exciting collective improvisation. "Movement VII" shows the piano pushing the music forward gracefully in an exciting fashion before the movement makes a sudden drop in tone to sparse piano with sound manipulation altering the results. The music on this album is totally improvised and played in the moment, but it's hardly daunting or overwhelming. Dynamic shifts from calm and placid musical seas to raging rapids keep the listener totally engaged in the proceedings. East Side Banquet - amazon.com

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