Monday, July 4, 2016

Ziporyn/Zimpel/Zemler/Riley - Green Light (2015)


Evan Ziporyn - Bb clarinet, bass clarinet
Wacław Zimpel - Bb clarinet, alto clarinet, algoza
Gyan Riley - classical & electric guitar
Hubert Zemler - drums, metallophone

Green Light


By Maciej Lewenstein

Evan Ziporyn (born in 1959) is an American composer of post-minimalist music with a cross-cultural orientation, drawing equally from classical music, avant-garde, various world music traditions and jazz. Quoting his web page: "He studied at Eastman, Yale & UC Berkeley with Joseph Schwantner, Martin Bresnick and Gérard Grisey. He first traveled to Bali in 1981. Ziporyn joined the MIT faculty in 1990, founding Gamelan Galak Tika there in 1993 and beginning a series of ground breaking compositions for gamelan and western instruments". His collaborators include Nik Bartsch, Iva Bittová, Don Byron, Ornette Coleman, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, Thurston Moore, Terry Riley.

Evan must have immediately found a common soul and chemistry with Wacław Zimpel, whose music in the recent years is slowly drifting toward ethnic jazz and world music. Gyan Riley (the son of Terry Riley) is "equally strongly present in the worlds of classical guitar and contemporary music". The three gentlemen, supported by te phenomenal and ubiquitous Hubert Zemler, met for the first time at the Studio Dworek Białoprądnicki in Kraków, where they recorded this material. A day later the quartet performed a live soundtrack to Edward Sedgwick's/Buster Keaton's "The Cameraman" at Kino Pod Baranami as a part of the XIVth Festiwal Kina Niemego (Kraków Silent Movie Festival).

As the liner notes explain, "Green Light" includes many influences: from Indian classical music, gamelan, East African music, early minimalism, klezmer, and so on. As for Zimpel, it is one of his "light weight" performances. Still the level of playing, compositions, arrangements and solos is absolutely top. 

I dig "Id Kiss Gale" by Evan for its discrete minimalist character. "Chemical Wood" and "Heavy Wings" are both joint compositions of the quartet and as such are the most open and free tunes - they constitute the artistic highlight of the album. "Infundybuła Chronosynklasyczna" is the composition of Hubert - a slow, repetitive ballad with delicate theme hold by the guitar, quiet clarinets "howls" and really fantastic on-going improvisation of drums and percussion. Gyan's "Melismantra" is an excursion toward the Indian and East African scales. Clarinets entries here are outstanding, but the rhythm guitar accompaniment and the guitar solo are also delicious. The closing "Gupta Gamini" by Zimpel is another highlight, lasting 12 minutes. It starts very lyrically, with light accords by electric guitar and a hymn like theme by the both reed players. This moon-like mood develops, but never becomes more aggressive. Only in the final 3 minutes Zemler starts to provide a more accented rhythm. The clarinets join then in the unison theme and continue with wonderful solos/duos until the end. Another great one from Zimpel !

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