All About Jazz
All About Jazz, Italy
All Music Guide
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Downtown Music Gallery
Midwest Jazz Magazine
One Final Note
Paris Transatlantic Magazine
Penguin Guide to Jazz
Point of Departure
Ritmos del Mundo
Signal to Noise
Swingin Thing Magazine
According to Scott Fields website,
this recording with Elliot Sharp, Afiadacampos, came out in 2010, which on the cusp of 2012, makes me a little more than fashionably late. Apologies for my tardiness, however, I am pleased to report the music has not aged a bit. I think the first thing that stuck out to me on this recording is just how nicely recorded the steel string acoustic guitars sound.
Since they are rather indistinguishable sonically, the separation is done via left and right channel making this a nice album to listen to via the headphones. The sound swirls and coalesces in time and space, sometimes disorientingly, sometime soothingly. Typically a guitar duo, which is a favorite configuration of mine, relies on a division between melodic, rhythmic and harmonic functions, in varying combinations. Here, the duties seem split melodic/melodic, harmonic/texture, texture/melodic, basically everything but what you may expect.
The songs are reactions and cerebral conversations between the guitarists. Just to take one song at random, say, I Love Not Green Eggs apart, one would hear every aforementioned interaction, with sharp melodic cluster bouncing off string scrapes and defiant low register plucks. Almost classical passages sit atop randomness. This is the un-formula of each improvisation.
If there is a complaint to lodge, it would be that about half-way through the recording that the improvizations begin to blend into each other. However, just in time, the tracks Delta Delta and Sun Figtree negates that criticism as vigorous rhythms and knotty textures are effectively deployed. It all works to create a rather interesting and provocative set of acoustic explorations.
This is something Id recommend to listeners who are adventurous,thirsty for something different, and appreciate the many sounds of the steel string acoustic guitar. Four stars.
Paul Acquaro, Free Jazz Blogspot
There is a great deal
of space for electric guitarist Scott Fields and tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert to fill on this recent duo outing.
Clean Feed offers this description on their site: In the Minaret Minuets system there are two separate but equal branches: the electric guitar and the tenor saxophone. Composer slash instrumentalists those roles smear Scott Fields and Matthias Schubert find myriad methods to blend and contrast, to appear to be at one moment a larger ensemble and then to sound as just one.
I do not think I could have composed a better summation of the music within the tracks feel organically grown and composed by the spontaneous reactions between the musicians, running the gamut from tiny sounds produced by the acoustics surrounding the instruments to playing at their extremes. Without the grounding of bass or percussion and sans any traditional song structure, all emphasis is shifted to the musicians interplay and sonic atmosphere.
For example, there is a passage about halfway into the extended Willies Billy Beer where the guitar melody skitters over light saxophonic flatulence. So intimate, barely making a sound, the woodwinds breathiness provides just enough subtle support for the delicate melody. Soon, everything from key clicks to short snippets of melody from the sax begin interacting with string scratches and muted pickings. Its the textures of sound bouncing off each other that make such sparse moments so effective. Their approach seems to capture emotions and subconscious thoughts more than overt statements.
But all is not calm, while there are great expanses of ruminative rambling, there are also moments of rambunctious raucousness. The 7-minute Multi Trill begins exhilaratingly all skronk und drang but eventually settles into a more lyrical flow. Santa on a Segway has moments of sweetness and synergy where the rhythms and tones between the two players meld delightfully.
This is a long recording clocking in around the 75 minutes mark and while it takes some determination to sit through the whole event, it takes its time to unfold and contains many interesting passages that make it worth the listen. At any one point the guitar may be laying down a rhythmic single note figure and then drop in some chords while the sax bounces melodic figured off the morphing structures, then the roles may shift or transform into other shapes and sounds.
This is a conversation that never ends its one held in music and while there may be lulls and heated moments, there is no time when the ideas dry up. four stars
Paul Acquaro, Free Jazz Blogspot
German artist Thomas Hornung has
the habit of making many quick drawings, most of which he discards, and some he archives. Guitarist Scott Fields made this CD to accompany these drawings and to mimick their creation. The CD consists of 98 tracks, ranging from 8 seconds to 1 minute. In this short period, theres hardly anything to tell, and thats what it sounds like: short snippets of sound, with no apparent sense. Unless this makes sense to you: Eventually I decided to convert some (as it turned out 171) of his drawings into a multi-page graphic score. To do that I made a matrix of pitch rows and numbers that represent playing techniques. Then I reversed Thomass drawings so that what was black became transparent. Finally I laid each drawing over the matrix and used what was visible as an element in an extended, modular composition. It is pretty painful that you need to explain all this, and much more, in two pages on the liner notes. In my humble opinion, music is about music, not about some intellectual and cerebral creation. Click on the cover above to see how much notes remain after the color reversion. The point of this approach totally eludes me. There are about five trillion other ways to organise notes based on external circumstances, most of which are possibly more valuable than the approach taken here. I have no problem that other art forms can generate inspiration for musical evocations, quite to the contrary, but not through such a mechanistic intellectual process. What Fields does, is just to create randomness. There is no link whatsoever between the drawings and his music. And none of the 98 pieces actually has anything to tell. Theyre just a few sounds on one or several strings. Less interesting than a bee buzzing around your head. The good news is that I had 254 takes, 171 of which I kept (
), a month later I culled the 171 acceptable takes down to 99, one for each track possible on the CD. We were saved from listening to a triple CD.
Stefan Gijssels, Free Jazz Blogspot
With his guitar trio, the
Scott Fields Freetet, the guitarist wants to get even for all the problems caused to him by people he trusted and especially the one he loved. The titles of the tracks leave nothing to the imagination : Yeah, Sure, We Can Still Be Friends, Whatever, Go Ahead, Take The Furniture, At Least You Helped Pick It Out, My Love Is Love, Your Love Is Hate, etc, etc. And with that knowledge in mind, you would expect some raw, frustrated, angry or even violent music, or at best some sad blues-drenched wailing. What you get is nothing of the sort, though. You get abstract and free music, nervous and agitated, often sounding like Joe Morris, all in the mid-tempo range, with the exception of the fifth track, I Was Good Enough For You Until Your Friends Butted In which is a little slower and closer to a blues in form and feeling. Sebastian Gramss on bass and João Lobo on drums play well and supportive, because Fields is not always easy to follow. Despite many good ideas, the emotional disconnect between theme and form is too big a gap to bridge for me. This soft-toned, gentle, open yet nervous music is the opposite of the destructive anger you would expect. Fields would have done better by presenting is music as is, leaving more to the listeners imagination, rather than pointing the direction with words. Now, its just a nice album which will certainly be of interest to modern guitar-players. 3 stars
Stefan Gijssels, Free Jazz Blogspot
Guitarist Scott Fields fits in
his own musical category, trying to reconcile new music with jazz elements, inventive with musical structures and patterns, yet with an end result that is often very (too) cerebral and abstract. This album uses the same complexities, with odd meters and changing time signatures, and somehow it all seems to fit and work perfectly well. It was originally written for the dance ensemble of Li Chiao-Ping, and already released in 1995. From what I understand from the somewhat tiring liner notes is that the piece was never performed, and you can understand why, when listening to it.
That being said, the music is beautiful. Scott Fields plays nylon-string guitar, Matt Turner cello, Geoff Brady percussion, John Padden double bass and Robert Stright vibraphone. The shifting meters and the chamber-like ensemble perform with precision and clarity, keeping the music open-textured and thematically relatively free, despite the structure, that, implicit though it is to the listener, creates a sense of release when the puzzle pieces falls into place.The improvisations are excellent, and its a pleasure to hear Fields playing guitar in a relatively straight-forward way, especially on The Plagiarist, a very nervous and uptempo piece. The rest of the band is absolutely great, with the sound combination between the cello and the vibes working extremely well. On the long A Carrot Is Not A Carrot, the interaction between Turners cello and Fields guitar is full of sad melancholy, the interplay between cello and walking bass on Fugu a pleasure, as is the careful precision play between vibes and percussion.
A real treat, and an excellent idea to make this music available again. four-and-a-half stars Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz