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, there’s hardly anything to tell, and that’s 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 Thomas’s 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. They’re 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. — Free Jazz Blogspot
Bitter Love Songs
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 listener’s imagination, rather than pointing the direction with words. Now, it’s just a nice album which will certainly be of interest to modern guitar-players. 3 stars — 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 it’s 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 Turner’s 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.****½ — Free Jazz