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KITTY BRAZELTON
Come Spring!; R; Sonar Como Una Tromba Larga; Called Out Ol' Texas; Sonata for the Inner Ear

Chris Washburne (trombone); Danny Weiss (alto sax); Dan Barrett (cello); Kitty Brazelton (voice); others
Manhattan Brass Quintet
California EAR Unit

CRI- 889(CD)
No Reference Recording

rating

Kitty Brazelton is a consummate New York composer, and it shows in these five pieces. Like the city itself, her music is big and brash yet conscious of its coolness in a way that's endearing, not annoying. Unlikely combinations of cultures and styles are crammed into small spaces. Sometimes these elements interact; sometimes they tense up and skitter away from each other, as nervously as strangers brush up against each other on a crowded train. Her music's moods are by turns ebullient and funny or darkly reflective, even wistful. Occasionally the settings are distinctly uptown, but downtown's raucous self emerges more frequently. In her varied musical career, Brazelton has played in punk bands, de- and re-constructed Hildegard von Bingen, and written an opera whose plot involves extraterrestrials. She identifies herself as a totalist composer--nothing's off-limits.

So it's no surprise that her music covers a terrific sonic span and yet still has a uniquely identifiable voice. CRI's sound is unfortunately on the dry side, but not so as to prevent enjoyment of the musical fireworks on offer. Come Spring!, written for the Manhattan Brass Quintet (which reprises its performance here), references stride piano, Stax Records, Aaron Copland, and Miles Davis. The MBQ punches out Brazelton's syncopations with verve, but for the lyrical sections, including the gorgeous third movement, the playing really sings. R features a rhythm section of percussive guitar, acoustic bass, and bongos set against a 5-string violin and Brazelton's own astringent voice.

Sonar Como Una Tromba Larga ("To Sound Like a Great Waterspout") for trombone and tape takes full advantage of gifted trombonist Chris Washburne's knifesharp articulation and lovely lyricism. Called Out Ol' Texas pairs an intriguing combination of two sultry-voiced instruments, the alto sax (Danny Weiss) and cello (played by Dan Barrett). The piece relies on what fellow composer Butch Morris calls "comprov": the score, reproduced here, offers four visual icons on which the musicians should base their performances. (One, for example, is simply a circle bisected by a ray shooting through.) As with Come Spring!, Sonata for the Inner Ear is played by the ensemble for which it was written. In this case it's the California EAR Unit that makes its way through a score that connects wholly improvised sections with notated parts. As with all the other performances here, these musicians bring to Brazelton both technical expertise and an organic understanding of her compositional ideas. It's an incredibly invigorating disc, and definitely one to seek out.

--Anastasia Tsioulcas



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J.S. BACH
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CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS
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Henri Legay (tenor); Bernard Demigny (baritone); Françoise Ogéas (soprano)
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DOMENICO SCARLATTI
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Harry Christophers
Coro
LAGQ: LATIN
Original works & arrangements for guitar quartet by Piazzolla, Brouwer, Copland, Rodrigo, Bizet, & the LAGQ
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet
Telarc
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related links:

"Chamber Music for the Inner Ear"

Other CDs by Kitty Brazelton

CRI (Composers Recordings Inc.)

Kitty Brazelton, composer

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