Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Inner Ear - Return From The Center Of The Earth (2013)

Inner Ear

Mikołaj Trzaska - saxophones, bass clarinet
Steve Swell - trombone
Per-Ake Holmlander - tuba
Tim Daisy - drums

Return From The Center Of The Earth

Bocian M1

By Florence Wetzel

During chaotic times, when the world erupts with disharmony, music can remind us of the joys of international cooperation. In 2007 American multi-instrumentalist Ken Vandermark and Polish producer Marek Winiarski joined forces to create the Resonance Ensemble, gathering improvisers from all over the world to Krakow to play together and form connections. From within the fertile ground of the Ensemble, the quartet Inner Ear emerged: Polish Mikołaj Trzaska on saxophone and bass clarinet, New Yorker Steve Swell on trombone, Swedish Per-Ake Holmlander on tuba and Chicagoan Tim Daisy on drums. In 2011 the group released "Breathing Steam" with the Polish label Kilogram Records, and now comes "Return From The Center Of The Earth" with Bocian Records, another experimental label based in Poland.

The CD features three live songs recorded in Chicago at two separate dates. The first tune, "A Night Without Sleep", was recorded in 2011 at a Chicago club called The Hideout. The 16-minute piece beautifully channels the wavy weirdness of insomnia and the strange magic that sometimes blossoms out of sleepless nights. The four musicians all have highly personal voices, but they fold together seamlessly throughout. There are wild, wondrous cries from Trzaska, who has that gritty folk-music quality present in so much of Polish jazz. Swell is at the top of his game, playing with power and verve his lines full of bluesy freedom. Holmlander is a wonder, his tuba providing gorgeous colors, as well as a fantastic range of pure-sounds, scrapes and huffs and burps that are both playful and surprising. Daisy offers a mesmerizing concoction of shifting layers and percussive flavors, creating seismic waves for the others to dance upon. The song is a four-way conversation of tremendous urgency, riled-up and intoxicating.

The two other tunes were recorded at Elastic, a Chicago artist-cooperative located above a Chinese restaurant called Friendship. The 11-minute "The Long Full Compartment" begins with a quiet spaciousness that slowly sizzles into a fuller sound, an organic process of gradually building dynamics and thickening atmosphere that emerges into a glorious burst of avant-free vitality. "Citizens Of The Night Trains" finds the group playing among those oh-so-delicious edges of sound and noise, creating a marvelously abstract sonic-field. The song gradually edges into more identifiable sounds, finally morphing into an explosive ending.

It's a pleasure to hear these four unique voices combining to create such gorgeously vibrant music. At a time when the world is full of conflict and uncertainty, international groups like Inner Ear point out a better way: cooperation, respect, and the pleasure that comes from creating beauty — together.

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