Tuesday, 11 September 2007

9/11 - Daniel Carter & Reuben Radding

With today being the sixth anniversary of 9/11, now seems like an appropriate time to post this review. The music was made in the aftermath of the events that still scar the heart of New York City, with consequences for international politics that nobody needs reminding of.

It's said that nobody will ever forget where they were the day it happened - I was co-organising a gig with no-fi in Newcastle by Kid 606, the 'bad boy' of American electronica. The whole evening had a strange cast, and this CD would have made a more fitting soundtrack...


You And I Are Disappearing; Ancestral Voyage; Refracted Light And Grace; Blessing The Ride; Vignettes; Qualcosa Verso Azzuro; Occurrences, Places, Entities And The Sea.

Daniel Carter (as); Reuben Radding (b). Recorded 10/01.

Rather surprisingly, Luminescence represents ubiquitous multi-reedsman Daniel Carter’s debut recording under his own name. The bulk of the disc was recorded live in Seattle, just a few weeks after the seismic events now referred to as ‘9/11’. This was Carter’s first trip to the West Coast, and was facilitated by a grant raised by former sparring partner on the New York avant-garde scene, bassist Reuben Radding.

Carter’s decision to travel with just one horn, forced by an overzealous airline carrier, was in the end a fortuitous circumstance. Had Carter been able to travel with his full arsenal of reeds and brass I doubt that the ensuing performance could have been so tightly focused. Rather than venting his frustration or rage, Carter overcomes adversity by falling back on his considerable musical resources. The saxophonist digs deep within to craft lyrical, melodic improvisations in a warm, luxuriant tone that seems to be bathed in soft light. He is completely at one with the nimble big-toned Radding, who shadows his every move.

With a sound closer to Anthony Ortega, Lee Konitz or Art Pepper, who could believe that this is one of free-jazz’s heaviest hitters? Although there is a darkly brooding and somewhat pensive aspect to the duo’s collective expression, each piece playfully twists in and out of joyous swing like a writhing eel, usually resolving optimistically.

It would be pointless to single out one particular piece - none are dispensable despite all being constructed along similar lines. The three studio cuts closing the album don’t quite attain the same transcendent level, as if that was just out of reach once the initial tensions had been released at the concert two days beforehand. Great art born out of adversity, and highly recommended listening for music lovers of all persuasions.

Fred Grand
(Jazz Review, May 2003)

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