Monday, May 28, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - May 23/07

It's been a while since I last checked in with the Turtle Island (String) Quartet. I recall a couple of albums from the late 80s on Windham Hill Records (yechhhh....) in CIUT's new release rack - back when new releases were LPs displayed on a rack. Despite my utter obsession with harmolodics and SST-style jazz-punk, I ended up gravitating to the lively, shifty arrangements. Some decades later with more albums (and a Grammy) under their belts, comes this tribute to John Coltrane. A tribute to Trane is a tall order for anyone, but the TIQ are up to the task. Their playing is more robust than I remember, and hella more robust than other string quartets.

There's a part of me that wants to try out their original "Model Train" over a big PA to goose the bass to where it should be - it's a true head-nodder begging for a remix. But this week I treated the sturdy JBL monitors at CIUT to Turtles' ultimate challenge, the untouchable "A Love Supreme". TIQ can't be expected to equal or surpass the original's intensity and spirituality, but they sidestep those impossibilities by way of an introspective arrangement by leader David Balakrishnan. In the "Acknowledgment" they resist the temptation to go into funny, self-consciously strident harmonies as some kind of "freedom quest" intro so common to 70s dilutions of Coltrane's work. They launch right into the spiritual quest of the composition, with a careful arrangement which incorporates Coltrane's improvising into the charts. The playing is sincere and inspired. "Resolution" is what sets TIQ apart from other string ensembles, with cellist Mark Summer rock solid propulsion, the group solos with abandon, brilliantly capturing the Coltrane quartet's collective mindset in this unlikely and ambitious setting.

a love supreme: acknowledgment & resolution - turtle island quartet (telarc)
eyi yate/elene ni wa - ebenezer obey (honest jon's)
nyirabisabo - mighty popo (tamba)
voce e eu - domenico + 2 (luaka bop)
smoking car - degenerate art ensemble (tellous)
nutimik - venetian snares (sublight)
city saturate pt 2 - naw (noise factory)
ode a marrouf - nawal (nawali)
black as vera cruz - ethnic heritage ensemble (delmark)
waka kanos - adam solomon (indie)
bodo riddim version - brotherman (minor 7 flat 5)
only for a time - ras myrhdak (minor 7 flat 5)
"a" minor squadron dub - irie band (indie)
the source - high tone vs. zenzile (jarring effects)
tower block dub - urban dub (urban dub)
killing version - ljx (ljx)
justice - meditations (makasound)
revolution dub - augustus pablo (greensleeves)

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