Once, in a conversation Morton Feldman was having with another composer about a piece that Feldman was writing for voice and orchestra, I interjected the question to Feldman : "Well, Morty, when does the voice become an instrument?" His reply was: "That is a good question." And nothing further was said.
I answered the question for myself at this performance. Jessica Loos has established the way the voice can become an instrument. Her vocal contributions to the improvisation did not reveal themselves as special, in the way, for instance, that Meredith Monk "sings" with instruments. Rather how Loos integrated her "sound poetry" into the tones that emanated from Eneidi's horn and the separated, yet continuous percussive bridges built by Spirit gave birth to an incredibly balanced set of music. The three musicians presented themselves evenly and with great strength, without one nervous tremor.
Loos wove syllables and outstandingly recognizable words through out the music in a husky, sometimes nasal, nearly completely flat monotone . Her timing was perfect. That is the reason that she could elevate the voice to instrument stature. The words she chose to enunciate and press to clarity and expand sonically, not just in volume, resembled the notes a horn would play. She buzzed her lips without the trumpet; her vocal chords would quiver vibratos without the sax valves. Her words were part of the theme of the improv, part of the development of the improv, and clearly signaled the way in which the piece of music, in two movements, would resolve. It was wonderful and comforting. Loos would occasionally raise her arms from her sides to emphasize & release her expressiveness. The words and sounds were just words and sounds, but they also conveyed meaning if the whole piece is considered. The poetry conveyed light & passion; its structure revealed stream of consciousness, automatic composition and a circuit of memory.
Eneidi played with and in response to Loos. He produced alto tones that beautifully illuminated, complemented, and embraced Loos's words. Eneidi revealed a more mellifluous side to his playing in this performance. Although he brought his sound to a fierce pitch landing with the other musicians, Eneidi stretched the range of his horn to commingle with the nature of Loos' voice. He blew bright distinct scalar runs that often developed into phrases that became only valved air. Notes were quickly fingered & continuous or slow & yearning or rounded, piercing, soured and screaming, but on the whole never upstaging or moving out of balance with Loos's voice. This was the most valuable aspect of Eneidi's playing.
The variety of percussion instruments Spirit played made absolute sense in relation to the natural flatness of Loos's voice and the metallic texture of Eneidi's horn. Spirit maintained a constant softness of sound with a quiet tapping that seldom moved into rhythm keeping. Spirit hit the right instruments at the right time not unlike the way in which Loos timed her voicing. He shuddered a sheet of muted material both at the beginning and the ending of the piece that signaled that the weather was about to change. The power of his drumming rose in coincidence with the vibrato of Loos's voice and the rattling of the valves on Eneidi's horn. Mostly, however, Spirit's restraint, exemplified in his insistence on keeping the tapping sound going at a certain level, had more power than the times when he pounded the bass drum or the toms. Spirit's sense of this trio was impeccable.
This group is innovative in a truly refined way. It is carrying forward with stylistic aspects of how voice can be put into a musical situation that I have not encountered before. With newness comes freedom of expression and the extension of dreams. "....Cinnamon glaze...twist me...rhinoceros...love me...fire...squeeze me....sun....sun....sun....the key."