Born in Baton Rouge, harpist, composer of just about every genre (including some she pioneers) and instructor Alice Anne LeBaron currently teaches at CalArts, but the thumb-tacks that connect the string on that map resemble a cop's enduring search for a killer: a doctorate at Columbia University, a year in Germany under the tutelage of György Ligeti, a summer in Trstěnice (Czech Republic), composer in residence in Washington D.C after a stint at the University of Pittsburgh, and lectures / performances in Hong Kong, London, Sydney, Berlin, Havana, Dresden etc. Likewise, her disparate accomplishments and associations along the way could fill another wall.
An avalanche of influence and innovation, 1, 2, 4, 3 is a unique double-disc mélange of LeBaron's examination of harp, electronics, ukulele and combinations of thirteen other musicians, from pianists to shakuhachi and koto players to contrabass clarinetists to mouth whistle performers.
Though known for her sensational, politically-loaded works (Sucktion: a woman, a laptop, a vibraphone, a vacuum cleaner; Wet, an opera about potential natural disasters related to "the business of water"), these "live performances, capturing the spontaneous moments between consummate improvisers getting to know one another and co-composing a time together", exude an innocence of immediacy, fun and oddity. The opener, "Heat Wave 1", is LeBaron alone-together with a host of ghostly, morphing echoes, microtonal bends, loops and contrapuntal bursts, all supporting or attacking a hauptstimme of lilting delicacy; for the later reprise, "Heat Wave 2", she shapes a lugubrious violence of feedback, nail scrapes and exaggerated, gurgling colors. For "Rippling With Leroy", she and the late violinist Leroy Jenkins flit with understated precision inside a perpetual motion machine of American blues, Hungarian folk and Viennese Serialism (specifically Berg's penchant for sweetness amidst a twelve-tone approach). "Make a Map, Not a Trace" is LeBaron, bassist Torsten Müller, trombonist Paul Rutherford (RIP) and Chris Heenan on alto sax, farming a united sigh to grow into bold inhales, groans, exhales, then dissipate to corners. With the swirl of "Stream" and "Wake", she and the bass / piano duo of John Lindberg and Georg Graewe oscillate between mellifluous lyricism and long periods of steady-yet-agitated percussive attacks. The wonderful Pan-Asian suite that dominates the last fourth of the set is a communion with Kiku Day (shakuhachi) and Kanoko Nishi (koto). Though they pay homage to the spaciousness and gestures of traditional "nature as music", the players interject with modern instrumental extensions and wily techniques — particularly the speech-flute on "Song of Marble" (mysteriously, the ID tag for the track generates as "Soul of a Marble", also a fitting theme for LeBaron's abstruse career).
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