This is not commercial music; Nine Gardeners Named Ned seems to be music which was composed with the player foremost in the composers mind. Brad Dutz, who composed all of the music on this disc, is a musician who performs mallet percussion and hand percussion. His compositions diverge from the norm; they are a mirror image to tone based music. Rhythm is the driving force. The reeds, brass, and woodwinds have all been drafted into the rhythm section. Brad Dutz uses no piano or strings on this CD.
Nine Gardeners Named Ned may also be program music or I originally thought that aspect may simply be a very well executed prank. Did Brad Dutz write his music to capture the melancholic experience of nine gardeners as they toil away, or did lyricist /spoken word artist William Roper simply write his text, name the songs and submit this to Mr. Dutz after the fact? Is this the "Rite of Spring" or not? I believe any CD that encourages such speculation on the part of the listener is worth buying.
I wanted to know the answer to the program music question so I spoke with Brad Dutz and he informed me that he wrote the titles first and then Mr. Roper improvised the text using the "silly titles." Brad also mentioned that he, like many other composers writes for the "curious quest" to discover some hopefully "NEW" sound.
Nine Gardeners Named Ned contains fairly long sections where the music meanders like water through a garden looking for a place to sink into receptive earth. It also has long sections dominated by tuba as piccolos that buzz around like angry bees. And in this way it is like some of the best gardens, with islands of color amid areas of wide open space.
The use of the tuba, and the playing of William Roper are reason enough to own this album. It is a rare event when you hear more then 3 or 4 notes played by a tuba in one song let alone having an entire CD where the tuba is among the main characters.
I’m tempted to say that this is experimental but it really isn’t because this type of music has been done before. I was reminded of Frank Zappa’s music of the early 1970’s and some of Laurie Anderson’s music although I find her to be more lyrical.
Other musicians who came to mind while listening to this album were drummer/ percussionist Bob Moses and genius of the saxophone and composition Ornette Coleman. While I enjoy the music that Zappa, Moses, Dutz, Coleman and Anderson have written and played I can not recommend them to a general audience and hope to have any credibility.
This album imparts the feeling that we are listening to the private musical musings of the composer. There is a dreamlike quality to it. Brad Dutz has drifted off and in his dream eleven musicians with an exotic variety of instruments arrive and begin to play. Brad provides the ideas but in typical dream fashion the outcome seems to determine itself to some extent.
I have to be in the right mood to listen to this type of music, but when I am in that mood I know I will listen to Nine Gardeners Named Ned with great enjoyment.