THEO JÖRGENSMANN low G clarinet (not on B1 - B7)
ETIENNE ROLIN Bb clarinet, basset horn, alto flute (not on A1 - A10)
ALBRECHT MAURER violin, viola (not on B1 - B7)
KENT CARTER double bass
A1 - WAYS OF MOVING - 4:48
A2 - SPACES - 4:27
A3 - HORIZON - 3:26
A4 - PERSISTENT - 3:52
A5 - PINWHEEL - 3:49
A6 - MUSIC FOR A GHOST STORY - 4:51
A7 - DANCE TO THIS - 7:41
A8 - SUITE OF ACTIONS - 9:03
A9 - PILGRIMAGE FOR TWO (clarinet / viola duo) - 2:49
A10 - UP AND AWAY (violin / bass duo) - 5:04
B1 - HI - 4:47
B2 - SKY CRY - 6:20
B3 - AND WHAT IS THIS? - 1:45
B4 - FOLKSONG - 6:01
B5 - EYE FOR I - 3:44
B6 - ALTO FLUTE STORY - 7:08
B7 - BY - 4:16
THE SUMMER WORKS SUITE
B8 - part one - 9:56
B9 - part two - 7:34
B10 - part three (clarinet / flute duo) - 2:44
B11 - part four - 3:59
B12 - part five - 2:30
B13 - part six - 4:28
B14 - part seven - 6:13
THE SUMMER WORKS CONCERT
C1 - first movement - 29:16
C2 - second movement - 14:50
C3 - third movement - 9:06
C4 - fourth movement - 5:57
A1 - A10 digital studio recordings made in Juillaguet [near Angoulême]
by Mathieu Trouvé & Cyrille Briere - 2009 August 27
B1 - B7 digital studio recordings made in Juillaguet [near Angoulême]
by Kent Carter - 2009 September 14
B8 - B14 digital pre-concert recordings made in Sers (l'Eglise de Sers) [near Angoulême]
by Mathieu Trouvé & Cyrille Briere - 2009 August 28
C1 - C4 digital concert recordings made in Sers (l'Eglise de Sers) [near Angoulême]
by Mathieu Trouvé & Cyrille Briere - 2009 August 28
Total time 181:46
All previously unissued
A live Composition Festival!
Most of us know the wisdom of the old saying: 'too many cooks spoil the broth'. What occurs when not one but four composers share the responsibility for a real-time performance work? The Rivière Ensemble chosen by bassist Kent Carter for the summer 2009 sessions answered this question with eloquence and beauty.
Aside from the sheer acoustic richness in the setting of two winds interacting with two strings, it is the stunning reality of how collective creativity can surpass the individual composing-imposing mode that makes this CD set a superb experience.
Some parts of this magic can be examined analytically: the connections between these improvising composers go back twenty-five years. In this quarter of a century, they were able to explore all facets of writing, while performing and recording each other’s ideas, not to mention fun evenings around a meal and a drink. This familiarity gave all present the confidence to go beyond personal wishes notated on paper and to take up the challenge of embracing the unknown.
Then what about an element of surprise essential to any spontaneous musical meeting? The fact that this particular quartet formation was new to all of us more than kept us all on our toes. The listening process from duo to trio to quartet set-ups changes dramatically, the latter often clamouring for more space.
What impresses me the most (now as a listener) is the collective control of form. This type of sensitivity involves not only listening intensely to the present moment but imagining the formal arch of the composition while actually storing the memory of what has been played, thus enabling the music to propel itself forward free from redundancy. At each step of the creative process, all members of the quartet are tracking the evolution of the blossoming artistic entity.
Then, mysteriously, in places of extreme liberating density, the composers came to the realisation that they were simultaneously serving the course of the musical stream itself. Without any false mysticism, this sonic reality may be referred to as a high acoustic consciousness that supersedes the rational side of the brain by directly targeting the artistic soul.
This state is a rare and an exquisite one, displaying the coordination of aural information, instrumental reflex and formal perception within the quartet. The intensity never dropped nor left the stage for even a second. These are concerts that we all dream about and hope to experience within a lifetime.
Fortunately for those not present, the recording was excellent, the mastering handled with care without a detail lost, thus guaranteeing the emotional impact of the session.
I feel as if I have co-signed a score written in the heavens and am extremely proud to have been a part of the Rivière Composers Pool.
ETIENNE ROLIN (2010)
All four musicians are experienced improvisers and composers who blur whatever boundaries there are between the two techniques – improvisation can be thought of as spontaneous composition, whereas composition is like non-instantaneous improvisation. These summer works did not involve any premeditated structures (apart from the personnel of the groups), so they could be considered to be free improvisation.
Kent Carter (b 1939) was part of the jazz and burgeoning free jazz scenes in Boston, then New York. He came to Europe around 1965 to tour with Carla Bley, Paul Bley and Steve Lacy among others, and in 1970 came to France and decided to stay. He was a member of Lacy’s group for all of the 1970s, but subsequently left to concentrate more on his own music, particularly that of his String Trio. He also played in a variety of settings with people as diverse as Derek Bailey and Max Roach, and composed music for dance theatre and film-video. Shortly after leaving Lacy, he moved from the north of France to the south-west near Angoulême, where he still lives, in order to teach at the Beaux Arts School and to build a recording studio and compose.
Etienne Rolin (b 1952) was teaching at the Angoulême Conservatory at the time, so not surprisingly he and Carter soon met and started making music together, most notably in Cinégraph’s Trio with François Rossé. Both he and Carter were born and raised in the USA, but have spent nearly all their adult lives in France. Rolin initially crossed the Atlantic to study with Nadia Boulanger, and is presently teaching improvisation through soundpainting at the Bordeaux Conservatory. He plays numerous wind instruments, but on these sessions he just plays basset horn (a sort of tenor clarinet), Bb clarinet and alto flute.
Theo Jörgensmann (b 1948) first heard Carter (on the radio) in the early 1970s playing with Steve Lacy. He was fascinated by Kent's playing, but they never met at the time. At the end of the eighties he played with German pianist Bernd Köppen who wanted to expand the duo with a bassist, so Jörgensmann immediately thought of Carter – thus the two eventually came into contact. Jörgensmann has made numerous recordings, notably on the hatOLOGY label, that generally involve pre-composed material as a framework for improvisation. He has been one of the leading clarinet players in Germany and Europe for many years. He played a low G clarinet on these sessions.
He met Albrecht Maurer (b 1959) a little bit later. They played together in a composition project for the Deutschlandfunk in Köln, Germany, and during the breaks started to play duos. It worked well, so Maurer was hired for the Theo Jörgensmann Werkschau Ensemble in the early nineties. When Maurer formed his own quartet, Jörgensmann recommended Carter, and Maurer went on to join Carter’s String Trio. As well as improvising and composing, he also works in early music ensembles.
For some time Carter had wanted to make music with the two Germans in a trio situation – hence the first session on CD A. The following day he had a concert commitment with Rolin, so it made sense to get all four musicians involved. This was the first time that Jörgensmann and Rolin had met. The latter has since worked in one of the former’s ensembles - the Tribal Clarinet Trio.
The two venues are both near Angoulême – Rivière studio adjoins Carter’s house in Juillaguet, and the church in Sers is a favourite location due to its favourable acoustics. The music in each session is presented in the order of performance.
It was not originally intended to issue a 3-CD set – no doubt some critics will complain that they don’t have time to listen to so much music. A few pieces were dropped from the two studio sessions, and some editing took place in all four groups of recordings, but there was still far too much superb music to fit onto just 2 CDs – so be prepared for three hours of excellence.
MARTIN DAVIDSON (2010)
"First of all, two things to point out the importance of this release. 1) Emanem rarely releases triple albums, and when it does it’s usually for archival documents; the arrival of a triple album of brand new music is therefore worth special attention. 2) I have learned with time to not underestimate bassist Kent Carter’s projects. The man tends to be subtle, and his records can fade in the background on first listen, but they’re highly addictive. So here I am, ears wide open, ready to drink this new vintage, a project also featuring clarinetist Theo Jörgensmann, violinist Albercht Maurer and clarinetist Etienne Rolin. They all knew each other and had played with one another, albeit never in this particular configuration.
Disc 1 features a beautiful studio session between Carter, Jörgensmann and Maurer. The music is fluid, heady, sensitive; it smells of classicism, European-style free improvisation, sharing, and exchange. A violin/bass duet (Up and Away) turns out to be the highlight of a very strong record. Disc 2 features a studio session between Rolin and Carter - nice, but not extraordinary - followed by a pre-concert session with the quartet, where there’s a lot happening: lively exchanges, measured lyricism. Disc 3 features the quartet concert. This is the most ebullient record of the set, with some raucous cacophonic passages. Lots of fun, excellent sound (recorded in a church, nice acoustics), and a splendid marriage of strings and reeds."
FRANÇOIS COUTURE - MONSIEUR DÉLIRE 2010
"Jörgensmann, Rolin, Maurer, and Carter are examples of musicians comfortable in a variety of improvisational styles because of something Lucas Foss did not have fifty years ago: experience. In fact, I consider the music on SUMMER WORKS 2009 to be closer to Foss' intentions - that is to say, a classical format - than to other styles of free improvisation or free jazz because, through countless opportunities to improvise in different settings and the familiarity they have achieved with each other, they have learned how to internalise and assemble spontaneously and collectively the types of strategies Foss and his colleagues pre-arranged. Using Foss' own criteria, they have studied musical freedom within several types of controlled fields and devised methods of coordination that are compositional in sound and nature, and exhibit 'order, direction, and discipline'. Etienne Rolin's description is remarkably similar, when he pinpoints 'the coordination of aural information, instrumental reflex, and formal perception within the quartet'.
To my ear, their music displays classical melodic contours and gestures - a sense of tension in the anticipation of how their interactive details will resolve harmonically; frequent manipulation of tonal gravity to dramatic effect and brief but pungent textural effects. (Rolin tends to be more extravagant in this regard than the linear, lyrical Jörgensmann, and he adds alto flute on occasion for another colour.) Their formal relationships are sympathetic and transparent - often it's possible to follow the improvisational logic as they find and then sustain the nature of a specific piece. Dance-like, animated rhythms contrast with fluid or crisp counterpoint and more complex exchanges and designs. But it's the group empathy - the roles they adopt in interacting to shape and reshape the music - that creates the convincing, engaging balance of formal proportion and surprising detail. This is what improvisation can bring to compositional procedures, and the members of the Rivière Composers' Pool show how ensemble improvisation has become a medium not just of freedom, but of trust."
ART LANGE - POINT OF DEPARTURE 2010
"As Dante put it (more or less), I'm currently midway on the path from enfant terrible to grumpy old fart, and less inclined these days to be patient with stuff that requires a big investment of time and stamina, so my eyebrows headed upwards when I saw that this four-way improv encounter was issued at luxuriant 3-CD length. But bassist Kent Carter is one of the least austere, most sheerly pleasurable of improvisers - his discs on Emanem are among the most approachable things in the label's catalogue, mingling chamber-improv with detailed compositional frameworks - and he's certainly not prolific. And the generous presentation here, it turns out, is entirely justified.
This meeting of four composer-improvisers - an unusual two-clarinet, two-strings lineup - took place at Carter's behest in August/September 2009. Each session has its own flavour. Disc A - a trio of Carter, violinist/violist Albrecht Maurer (mainstay of Carter's recent projects) and clarinettist Theo Jörgensmann - has a folk-jazz vibe very much in the tradition of Jimmy Giuffre. Maurer injects a sardonic lyricism, though, that owes something to Stravinsky. Often it involves jumping into unexpected registers or outlandish timbres, as in the twittering baroque fiddling that ends Suite of Actions. There's lots of wit and sprightly rhythmic play here - check out the simultaneous multiple tempos of Pinwheel and Jörgensmann's Benny Goodman-goes-nuts spree on Dance to This, for instance - though my favourite piece is the sombrest, Music for a Ghost Story.
Disc B begins with duets between Carter and Etienne Rolin, the latter probably the least familiar musician here. Despite his Francophone name, he's American-born like Carter, though he has been resident in France for most of his life. He's easily distinguished from Jörgensmann, favouring sinuous, run-together lines full of contradictory gestures and expressive exaggerations - perhaps it's significant that Rolin's bio note indicates his specialty is 'improvisation through soundpainting'.
The remainder of Disc B and all of Disc C are by the full quartet - tracks recorded just before and during a public performance at the church in Sers. The live performance is especially magical: long, rich passages of droning counterpoint suggest a Renaissance consort of viols, but there are also rhythmic/melodic games with multi-speed canons and metrical overlays (at one point Maurer starts beating out a snappy 3-against-2 on his fiddle), as well as a few moments of slowly ascending conflagration. The lightness and translucency of the group's palette is appealing - especially when (as at the start of the second track) Rolin shifts to flute - and the musicians' preference for actually playing their instruments as God intended them to be played draws out a wider, more surprising range of timbres than I've heard in most improv that focuses narrowly on extended technique. Carter's firmly placed lines and occasional tendency to snap percussively at the other players' heels keep everything lively, too. All told, 3 hours of great music, which fly by with nary a dull or cluttered moment: chalk another one up to Emanem."
NATE DORWARD - PARISTRANSATLANTIC 2010
"This is insistently collectively improvised music but 'composition' may be the best word available to describe this often highly formal music. Its common roots are in the high modernism of the early 20th century. If it 'sounds like' anything, it's Bartók or Stravinsky, with emphasis on the 'folk' elements in the former and quotation from the latter on occasion. The techniques and timbres are largely shaped by classical tradition, though pressed further back in time by a taste for raw, medieval timbres, typified by Rolin's basset horn. What's most remarkable, though, is the collective skill in constructing form, in picking up on and developing one another's nuances and phrases, so that what emerges are subtle explorations of a music that is frequently highly tonal and which infers and develops rich harmonic relationships.
There are three CDs of music gathered from both studio recordings and performances, most of it coming from two days in August 2009. The first CD consists of the trio of Maurer, Jörgensmann and Carter playing in the studio. The pieces are short and remarkably sculpted. Disc Two is split between a series of duos by Carter and Rolin and a pre-concert recording in which the quartet played together for the first time. As remarkable as these spontaneous etudes are, the real heights are reached on the third CD, The Summer Works Concert, an hour-long performance in four movements. The music is looser, more expressively and temporally expansive, finding further depths, and no doubt reflecting the stimulus of an audience, but it retains the composerly richness of the collective imagination evident elsewhere. This is densely allusive, rigorously structured music, made on the fly."
STUART BROOMER - ALLABOUTJAZZ-NEW YORK 2010
"SUMMER WORKS 2009 is, very possibly, one of the finest testaments to spontaneously composed contemporary music since saxophonist Steve Lacy fired his first broadsides in Europe almost four decades ago. The music flies in the face of logic - how can two, three or four disparate individuals be of one mind? Moreover, how can the musicians know where each idea emerges from, not know where it is going and still take it there? It speaks of musicianship beyond simpatico; ideas that immediately form a bond and invent a new language to create their as yet undiscovered literature. The music is so in-the-moment and so powerful in its impact that it stops the breath and opens the seventh chakra in the crown of the head, all at once. Bassist Kent Carter, an alumnus of no less than Lacy, in various combinations with violinist Albrecht Maurer and reeds players Etienne Rolin and Theo Jörgensmann, discovered here that parallel lines from artistic lives do not simply meet at infinity, but in fact spiral up and down together interminably, dancing like images of DNA as they turn incredibly creative almost at will.
This is more than a significant album of over three hours of music; it is an event, a collision of genius. On CD1, Carter, Jörgensmann and Maurer explore triangular development of the music. Ideas can originate almost anywhere, be they from the gravitas of Carter's mighty con arco playing or his spritely pizzicato; or they could start with a gentle bleat from Jörgensmann's clarinet or in the wail of Maurer's violin or viola. There is never a scramble to pick up on the proceedings; simply, it seems an organically created architecture to the music that is ceaselessly inventive and - at times - beautifully sweet in melody as well. The music swells and ebbs with oceanic intensity at times, but may also skip and bubble gently as a brook. There are several moments that come to mind, in tracks as varied as Ways of Moving, Music for a Ghost Story and Dance to This.
CD2 begins with a series of pieces developed by the power duo of Carter and Rolin. There is an almost playful camaraderie that exists between them. And What is This and Folksong are a wonderful reflections of this. But the two men can also be pensive and almost brooding as their instruments undulate and growl in Eye for I. The duo session is followed by a masterful seven-part The Summer Works Suite, which brings all four musicians together for what sounds like a much larger ensemble. As this music unfolds, the suggestion that this might also be a kind of history lesson in completely improvised music also follows in the wake of musical developments. The spontaneity is so magnificently wrought that it appears to develop a lattice work all its own. Artists are also like medieval apothecaries and this quartet is no different. As the music tumbles down musicians appear and disappear like shadows at Stonehenge, where each worships at the altar of creativity.
The final episode in this formidable package, CD3, contains perhaps the most priceless item of all. This is a live performance of The Summer Works Concert. The music is completely new, and so it should be, as it is wholly improvised. There are fewer sections here, but this suite picks up on the spectacular expanse of the music cited earlier. It is more sweeping and conjures images of seemingly boundless vistas painted in sound. In some places the music is dense when the musicians seem awash with the high viscosity of ideas. At other times, especially in the latter part of the concert, the artists' interaction becomes more playful as they skip and dance along their way, entwining phrases and lines seamlessly. No matter how the music plays on, it is always brimful with ingenuity, magic and unexpected joy. In fact it is fair to say that the music originates not in the mind of each artist, but bursts forth from the very souls of every one of them. And suddenly it seems that the three CDs, even with three hours of music, are not enough. Perhaps it is a way of looking forward to the next offering, if ever there is to be one.
How it was that Kent Carter, Etienne Rolin, Theo Jörgensmann and Albrecht Maurer could conceive and invent and improvise with such unbridled genius will remain one of those mysteries that keep the art alive for an indeterminate period of time."
RAUL D'GAMA ROSE - ALLABOUTJAZZ 2010
"What's instructive is how the musicians' smaller meetings suggest ideas that eventually coalesce into the title suite. On the successive Music for a Ghost Story and Dance to This, Jörgensmann/Carter/Maurer build up wide-ranging modulations into a capriccio-like showcase including Jörgensmann's flying glissandi, Carter's string slaps and Maurer's portamento runs. These movements are put to good use during the CD-length suite. From the exposition, where Rolin's broken-octave basset horn extensions, chanter-like respiration from Jörgensmann's clarinet, high-energy viola lines and sul tasto bass runs expand the theme, the variations cycle through quartet, trio, duo and solo episodes. If the clarinet outputs altissimo screeches, it's calmed by Carter's sul tasto stops; while speedy violin glissandi set the stage for mid-range reed licks. Putting aside bel canto or dissonant timbres, the climax downshifts to clarinet glissandi which push all into a gentling, diminuendo finale."
KEN WAXMAN - JAZZ WORD 2010
"Disc one comprises a trio performance of Jörgensmann, Maurer and Carter. The atmospheres oscillate from poised contemplation to slight disobedience kept in sync by a commendable sense of self-discipline. The participants privilege the essential traits of the instruments while totally avoiding frivolity, making the respective intuitions work in a cross of flexible severity and rational fluency that produces moments of bona fide aural magnificence by the dozen. A perfect synthesis is found in Suite of Actions: parabolic upper partials, broad-shouldered surges and technically advanced idioms easily discernible in an educated negotiation. However, the closing Up And Away - a vibrant violin/bass discussion - is another episode that should cause the connoisseurs' arm hair to stand.
The second item features a brace of sets. A Rolin/Carter duo introduces the listener to the trenchant aspects of an entanglement that converts apparent impracticality into convincingly emotional responses. The perceptible spaces and 'audible silences' from which everything starts attribute a degree of intimacy to something that, quite often, appears grand instead. The single timbres are things of beauty - we almost feel ourselves being plucked, arcoed and blown through (check Alto Flute Story to get a fairly accurate picture).
The first of the two quartet takes - The Summer Works Suite - fuels the interplay's flame up to 'best contemporary chamber' vividness, our judgement enhanced by the superiority of the instrumental nuances warranted by the church of Sers' resonant properties. We're at the uppermost level of sensitivity and reciprocal awareness, all the frequencies finding the ideal spot to contribute to a general image of large-scale accomplishment. Spontaneous contrapuntal ramifications celebrating the absence of scores in a superb statement against counterfeit artistry. Stravinsky is probably smiling upon these guys. And, perhaps, Mozart - history's greatest composer of ringing tones for mobiles - is chewing over his alleged 'genius'.
The show comprised by the third disc - recorded in Sers, too - is the logical prosecution of the preceding audience-less meeting. Taking shape from darker hues, as if waiting for the pitches to reach an adequate stage of intensity, the interrelation of sounds and souls instantly drives the playing towards a zone that is at once distant from gratuitous extremism and detrimental to the encoded clichés afflicting the classic terminologies (and a good number of improvisational briefings). The four musicians literally locate phrases and gestures on the fly, situating them inside malleable designs that do not need strict supervision to exhibit utmost efficiency. This, in a way, is also the place where a measure of poignancy is allowed: around the tenth minute, an awesome spreading of matching energies alone repays the commitment you'll put in to absorb the music's overall vibe.
A strong recommendation is to perform the listening duties in both ways: headphones to better enjoy the fine balance of intelligible complexity and personal equanimity, speakers to let the untainted magic of the notes refract on the walls and disassemble the self's mechanisms for three precious hours. If residual reasons exist for the survival of imprints like Emanem as opposed to the systematic free download of stuff that ultimately will never be heard, the opportunity of financing and releasing a terrific set such as SUMMER WORKS 2009 is one of the most important."
MASSIMO RICCI - TOUCHING EXTREMES 2011
Return to Emanem home page or go to CD releases or musicians