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Reviews: Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet: One Dance Alone

Reviews: 1

Site review by ramesh December 4, 2008
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is the fourth SACD to feature avant-jazz pianist Wayne Horvitz, and the second with his enterprising quartet of piano, bassoon, cello and trumpet.
Artist site : http://www.waynehorvitz.net
Both this release and the first, 'Way Out East', feature a striking gatefold photospread of Prague. The cover of the latest release shows the city in spring or summer, the first, a snowscape. If this was meant to imply that the original compositions of 'Way Out East' were cooler, and 'One Dance Alone' has a warmer tonality, I feel that 'Way Out East' seems more suitable for informal late night listening. There are eleven tracks which range from three to seven minutes' duration.

As with the earlier Gravitas Quartet release, Horvitz's compositions are an amalgam of modern jazz, with some bluesy inflections, and other works which are better described as contemporary tonal classical chamber works. The initial six tracks of the SACD are three pieces : July I, July II, and July III, which fit the latter description. They are interleaved by more exuberant, jazzy tracks which contrast neatly with severer piano writing in the 'July' pieces. Some of the keyboard writing in these avant-classically styled works reminded me of short sections in Boulez's Second and Third Piano Sonatas, albeit in a mellower vein.

The absence of any rhythm section in the quartet's pieces strikes me as an act of integrity on Horvitz's part. This compels the composer to concentrate on harmony, melody and counterpoint to propel the compositions, without the easy option of the chugging rhythm section to wallpaper over any flagging creative momentum. Unsurprisingly, the cello and bassoon have their starring cameos in the more classical works, with the trumpet coming more to the fore in the others.

The recording is in 24 bit 88.2 kHz PCM, with stereo and 5.0 [ not 5.1 ] mixes. The soundstage in stereo is broad, with a greater spread than most classical producers would allow a four instrument ensemble. The ambience is reminscent of sitting in a small hall in row A, with the musicians spread widely.

An enjoyable disc which needs more than a couple of spins to display its virtues.