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Olaf Maikopf     Gleich zwei neue CDs des seit fünf Jahren in Köln lebenden Chicagoer Gitarristen Scott Fields erscheinen dieser Tage auf dem interessanten Lissabonner Improviser-Label Clean Feed. Fields kennt man von seinen Arbeiten mit Joseph Jarman, Hamid Drake, Mat Maneri, Marilyn Crispell, Michael Formanek, oder Jeff Parker, alle veröffentlicht auf Kleinstlabels wie Black Saint, Delmark, und Music and Arts. Scharfefelder — sorry, diesen Titel, zusammengesetzt aus den übersetzten Nachnamen der zwei Gitarristen Sharp und Fields, finde ich nicht so richtig lustig. Doch vielleicht ist diese strikte Eins-zu-eins-Übersetzung ja auch absolut ernst gemeint, denn musikalisch geht es in dieser «neuen Kammermusik» meist kratzbürstig zu. Da wird lustvoll so einiges zitiert, erinnert (in den packendsten Momenten) an Larry Coryell’s Spiel bei «Spaces», kurze Akkorde lassen auch an mittelalterliche Lautenmusik denken. Ausgiebige leidenschaftliche Improvisationsgefechte ausschließlich auf akustischen Gitarren, wilde Ausgelassenheit, zarte Sinnlichkeit, abrupte Brüche — wahrscheinlich ist das alles provokativ gemeint, soll den Hörer herausfordern. Aber ob sich, außer auf Improvisation versessene Gitarristen und Hardcorefans der beiden Saitenderwische, noch jemand für deren introvertierten Streifzug durch die Scharfefelder interessiert? Nach fast siebzig Minuten gebe ich mich geschlagen — ganz ehrlich, mir ist dieses orgiastische «Geschrammel» zu anstrengend. — 4 stars (out of 5)   Jazzthetik

    Diese CD erschien zwar schon im vergangenen Herbst. Da mir “This American Life” damals abhanden kam, sie hier im AMM-Forum aber unbedingt besprochen werden sollte, denn sie ist wirklich erstaunlich, im folgenden nun ein kleiner Text darüber. Der in Köln lebende US-Gitarrist ist kein Unbekannter in der Improviser-Scene, nahm Scott Fields doch beispielsweise mit den Protagonisten Hamid Drake, Gerry Hemingway, Joseph Jarman, Myra Melford, Otomo Yoshihide oder Matt Turner Musik auf. Sein neues Album, ca. Fields 32 Produktion, liefert die Musik des in Chicago gesendeten Radioprogramms “This American Life.” Allerdings kein schlichter Hintergrund-Klangteppich ist hier zu hören, sondern der ebenbürtige Partner neben David Sedaris, dem Autor und Sprecher der Story (ist auf der CD nicht dabei!). In den fünf von Fields komponierten Stücken gönnen sich der Gitarrist und seine drei Kollegen Sebastian Gramss (Kontrabass), João Lobo (Perkussion) und Scott Roller (Cello) alle Zeit und gelegentlich auch Ruhe der Welt. Ohne jemals in abgehobener Coolness zu erstarren, spielen sie absolut klar und intensiv ihr sensibles Free-Jazz-Ding. Konsequent und voller Emotion!!(Viel Vergnügen bei der Entdeckung wünscht —   All My Jazz

    Ganz anders dagegen die Wirkung der Bitter Love Songs. Ebenfalls in weiten Zügen Improvisationsmusik, fesselt sie von Beginn an. Fields widmet sich durchgängig der freien Jazz-Form, wie sie Ornette Coleman mit seinen einstigen Gitarristen James «Blood» Ulmer oder Bern Nix etabliert. Dessen Harmolodic-System stand wohl Pate bei den sechs Stücken voller organisierter Unordnung. Fields zieht seine steil an- und absteigenden Flugbahnen ganz in dieser Tradition der «Umdeutung des Vorgefundenen» über lineare Intervallreihen. Seine zwei technisch hervorragenden Kollegen Sebastian Gramss und der Portugiese João Lobo begleiten den Gitarristen dabei mit feinsinnigen Überlappungen, führen lebhafte Kommunikationen. Diese Musik ist free, hat gleichzeitig aber auch eine fesselnde Melodiehaftigkeit und starke Blues-Verwurzelung — ungemein aufregend. — 4 stars (out of 5)   Jazzthetik

Marc Medwin     This album does not reveal its secrets easily. The proceedings start slowly and sparsely enough, but, very quickly, we are thrust headlong into a densely packed quartet of intense contrapuntal improvisations, full of long blisteringly fast lines. The occasional rhythms prevail, but they are quickly usurped by further post-post-Bop interregistral runs.

The results are initially exhausting, and on first listen, Thomas Lehn and Xu Fengxia provide the only relief in the form of varied texture. Lehn’s synthwork has always been a pleasure to hear, endlessly inventive and compatible with almost anything. Xu Fengxia is new to me, but her work here is brilliant, exhibiting the best timbral traits of European improv peppered with what I can only describe as touches of pan-ethnicity. Sudden shifts in volume, pitch, and duration make her contributions forceful but beautiful.

Only the final track presents some welcome moments of repose, and, I might add, some of the most intricate and gorgeous group improv on the disc. Long drones swell, shimmer and fade, guitar gliding in softly to obscure itself in saxophone shadows. When the lines return, they are slow, almost languid, the players seemingly more willing to accommodate space.

As interesting and engaging as these pieces ultimately can be, Fields’ playing strikes me as too similar throughout. Perhaps it’s just a sound I don’t like, or with which I need more acquaintance, but almost constant runs executed in a very homogeneous timbral spectrum don’t help matters. The fourth piece in particular holds incredible promise, for all members of the ensemble, and I hope that this group will continue exploring in that direction. —   Cadence Magazine

    Scott Fields’ compositional world is forbidding at best, almost impenetrable at worst. Billed as a double trio and actually recorded ten years ago, Dénouement lends itself more easily to immediate comprehension because of the stereo placement of the six players. Additionally, or maybe as a result, the textures are somewhat thinner, or more accessible,than on more recent releases. The opening guitar duo breathes with refreshing transparency, and when the other instruments enter, it is as if each, aware of his doppelganger, is extra careful not to tread on any toes. The compositions themselves, structures rather than always strictly notated, also allow for more space and silence; simply listen to Nothing had been Wrong to spot the aesthetic. A beautiful bass glissando opens a meditative full group exploration, Kline and Parker’s guitar styles of a piece, even combining with high arco playing from the bassists to eerie effect. The album swings and lopes with downright pleasantness, not that any of the sure-fire improvisational prowess of other efforts is sacrificed — far from it! All complement each other quite nicely in what might be described as a harmolodic journey through structured improvisation.—    Cadence Magazine

Bill Meyer     What’s your framework? Every creative musician, even the freest, operates within one. Consider Scott Fields, for example. There’s a lot of spontaneity in the Chicago-born, German-based guitarist’s music, but it arises from carefully selected structures. In the case of Drawings, he has both internalized and responded to another artist’s process in order to stoke his own. Each of its 99 brief performances is an immediate response to an image by Swiss artist Thomas Hornung.

The album’s sleeve notes portray Hornung, who is apparently so obscure that he is virtually Google-proof, as a man of rigid habits. He spends each day following the same schedule, lives in two identically furnished rooms, and each night he spends an hour dashing off images on one piece of A4 paper every minute or so, with time out for cigarette breaks. Fields, in turn, took a sheaf of Hornung’s drawings (which are reproduced on the tray card) and tried to play for as long as Hornung had drawn; the denser the inking, the longer he played. But nothing lasts too long, and the whole CD runs just 46:20.

This brevity may be a formal triumph, but it makes for frustrating listening. There’s a fair bit of variety, from Nels Cline-like shredding to swelling feedback to elegantly plucked shapes to music box-like chimes. But none of it develops. Of course, these tracks weren’t supposed to, but the result is still a choppy and unsatisfying listen. Ironically the soundtrack to an accompanying video by Arno Oehri, which shows Hornung and Fields at work, is more engaging. It is comprised of raw material from the sessions, drastically slowed down and pitched so low that it doesn’t sound like guitar anymore. Since the video has no other sounds, one has plenty of time to savor Fields’ slow-mo gestures, and plenty of motivation; the video’s 55 minutes is way too long to watch Fields play divorced from anything you hear. —   Dusted

Jon Morgan     Context is the operative for success regarding Scott Fields’ musical vision. While capable guitarists are a dime a dozen, only a handful compose and improvise in a challenging setting with the consistency of Fields. By surrounding himself with players of the highest caliber, Fields’ group suggests a finely tuned, living entity. This quartet serves as an important reminder of what creative improvised music has to offer. In this case, a nimble musical vehicle with all-wheel drive. —   Cadence Magazine

    Almost frightening in its execution, this is a trio that creates music of overwhelming density… Even in their freest moments, the group has a high level of discipline and conference. For the most part, the improvisations appear democratic, with the lead equally shared between Turner and Fields. Davis meticulously accents and shadows the assertions of the duo; his shimmering cymbals echo their distortion while the din of his snares and toms enhance the color of the dialogue. Whether it be the slurred, raucous guitar, or the ominous resonating cello, their improvisations are full of textural fervor, resulting in a sound as jarring and explosive as the calamity that influenced it. —   Cadence Magazine

Brian Morton     Here’s a duo record that confounds the lazy — and often mystifying — assumption that the language of duo improvisation is some kind of “conversation”. Sometimes improvisation works most effectively when there is no evidence negotiation or even communication between the two elements. That isn’t quite the case here, but electric guitarist Scott Fields and tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert have the mutual confidence to pursue independent lines in parallel. Strictly, these are Fields’ lines, since “Dipstick Triptych", “Santa on a Segway” and “Gidget Widget Wacker” are his compositions, but the execution is bipartisan, clever and supremely confident, like two opinionated guys who don’t see the need to wait for the other to pause before they get their two cent’s worth. —   The Wire


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