Kyle Bruckmann - Wrack (Red Toucan);|
Kyle Bruckmann Ernesto Diaz-Infante, John Shiurba, Karen Stackpole - Grand Mal (Barely Auditable/Pax Recordings)
Oboist Kyle Bruckmann's Wrack is a showcase for his work as a composer and arranger, which mines a neo-Third Stream vein with results sometimes resembling early Dave Douglas. Bruckmann's charts have a stately melancholy that suits the somber front line of oboe, trombone and viola. But things are always just a step away from boiling over: with live-wire drummer Tim Daisy in the band things are never going to get too cozy, and he drops in a few nifty surprises, such as the pots-and-pans opening to “Gearshifts & Parentheticals” and the vehement odd-meter groove of “Elegy for a Boiled Frog,” which comes straight out of the Vandermark 5 bag. Bruckmann's main turn as an improvising soloist comes on the sad, sinuous dance of “Extenuating Circumstances”; more often he plays an ensemble role, leaving solo duties to trombonist Jeb Bishop (who's in great form on “Sins of Omission”) and violist Jen Clare Paulson. The disc's hero, though, is Daisy, who really lets fly on some of these tracks. The drummer sits out the closer, though, a very pretty, through-composed arrangement of Ornette Coleman's “Lonely Woman” that harkens back to the days when Ornette was being championed by George Schuller and John Lewis.
On Grand Mal, a set of free improvisations recorded in January
2002, Bruckmann is in the company of three Bay Area players, guitarists
John Shiurba and Ernesto Diaz-Infante and percussionist Karen
Stackpole. The ten improvisations are pithy expositions of sonic
texture and color. This is the kind of improvisation that starts with
its premisses already in place, rather than with a period of searching
for them: on each track a musical situation is quickly and confidently
outlined, explored, and rounded-off, sometimes in as little as two
minutes. In addition to oboe, Bruckmann plays English horn and the
Chinese suona on this date, though the feral sounds he gets out of
them make the exact choice of instrument almost immaterial. On some
tracks he squawks and clucks in a manner reminiscent of Zorn's classic
duck-call period, but his specialty is the multiphonic exploration of a
single held note: the results of this kind of sonic incision are not as
visceral as they can be on soprano saxophone (see Stéphane Rives'
Fibres for a good, recent example), but Bruckmann nonetheless
gets under the skin through sheer, demented persistence, notably on the
magnificent “Catatonic Posturing II”. Strong stuff.
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