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48 Motives is a profound   extension of Fields’ hornless quintet CD Fugu (Geode) where he amply displayed his use of different contemporary post-free jazz and post-classical music. Fields excels in creating slowly sculpted swerves, hairpin turns, and even magnificently powerful door blowing exertions. And on Motives, Stephen Dembski brilliantly guided the octet version of Fields’ ensemble for an adventurous sound event that awaits you. — Andrew Bartlett,   Midwest Jazz Magazine



Entitled 48 Motives, his piece   consists of melodic fragments composed using a harmonic system that is intended to provide a listenable application of the serial twelve tone techniques used by classical composer Arnold Schoenberg. Highly listenable it is, as the figures played by cellist Matt Turner and ex-Art Ensemble of Chicago member Joseph Jarman are both emotive and melodic. Though the chaotic polyrhythms caused by the active participation of each of the members at times seem random there are plenty of stabilizing musical figures that sustain the music without relying on familiar patterns. — Jeffrey Herrmann,   yourflesh



Whether or not a group   later than a quartet can collectively improvise in an artful manner is an open question, even thirty-odd years after the recording of those two landmark albums [Free Jazz and Ascension], but if it is to happen, it seems certain that an imposed structure is necessary to avoid the pitfalls of utter cacophony. Fields’ ensemble does that, for the most part, and while in this particular performance the effect is not wholly successful, this talented composer has given more than a hint of how it may eventually come about. — Chris Kelsey,   Cadence Magazine



Double quartet, 48 eight-bar themes,   each with its rhythmic counterpart, and a conductor to order and cue the themes at his discretion: those are the components of this recording. Fields counts on the interaction of these motives to generate interest. It happens at times, but the overall effect is that of minimalism: texture begging for development. — Bill Bennett,   Jazz Times



Scott Fields is nothing if   not an academic composer, but he’s a visionary one. 48 Motives is a scored composition that is based on 48 eight-bar melodic fragments. These are built on a tonal system designed by Stephen Dembski of the interaction of two 12-pitch tone rows that are used to construct nontonal scales. It has been simplified and notated for improvisers exclusively. 48 Motives is written for four or more treble instruments in combination with two rhythm units, with at least a bass player and percussionist in each. Then, for the treble instruments, Fields composed 12 motives constructed on 12 closely related scales that were not related to the other three scale sets. Then he divvied them up among the other groups so that each had 12 of their own and four from the other three instruments. Finally he composed a rhythm element, giving 24 to one and 24 to another. Then a conductor uses the American Manual Alphabet as well as traditional conducting gestures to select motives, instrumentation, dynamics, tempo, and more. As musicians move back and forth between motives, the basic stock for their improvs changes. Now, this is all heady stuff, is it not? And all of it would be useless were it not for its compelling possibilities and the way those possibilities are explored by the instrumentalists at work here. And what a group of musicians he assembled. For the recorded premier he used pianist Marilyn Crispell, cellist Matt Turner, and his bandmates — John Padden and Geoff Brady — for a rhythm section, among others. Stephen Dembski conducted. There are so many things going on at once in this music, all of them so instinctually related and timbrally exotic, it’s difficult to nail down any one thing except for the dynamic range that follows a circular trajectory of empathy and force, led by Crispell. This music is magic, wonder, and mystery all rolled into one, and beguilingly accessible. Let’s face it, folks, Fields is a genius. — Thom Jurek,   All Music Guide