Wednesday, April 25, 2007

David Torn – Pranzens (ECM, 2007)

Guitarist and composer David Torn divides his time between film soundtrack work and experimental jazz recording and performing. This current project definitely falls into the latter category where he is joined on a freewheeling recording project by alto saxophonist Tim Berne, keyboard player Craig Taborn, and drummer Tom Rainey. The group recorded the pieces in the studio, and then Torn went back to re-imagine the music by using sampling and overdubs much like Teo Macero’s working with the tapes of electric Miles Davis bands to craft albums. The set pieces of the album seem to work the best, my favorite being “miss place, the mist...” which mines a dusty Bill Frisell groove, using slide guitar to near cinematic effect. “Them Buried Standing” and “Ring For Endless Travel” have a tightly coiled feel to their improvisations that recall Berne’s own solo work with his band Big Satan. Where the music develops a looser feel, it tends to meander and lose its way at times. “Sink” and “AK” fall into this category, with some good moments being lost amidst the ever expanding musical universe. This is an admirable if uneven album of progressive jazz. The musicians all play very well and work well together, and it would be interesting to hear this group perform live away from much of the digital processing.

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