The latest Cadence Music release by Trio X, Rapture, has three cuts. Simply stated. Beautifully rendered. Recorded live at the Knitting Factory in December of 1998.
The entire recording becomes an expression of a means to celebrate and maintain the spirit that keeps us human, that allows us to go through life whole, no matter what the situation. How relentless is the process of securing the spirit where there seemingly is none to be found.
Dominic Duval, on bass, plays a one minute and twenty-four second solo to introduce the CD. Elegy: Upon Mourning is elegant & clutches the heart. The several double-note strokes of the strings at the end take me to the final escalator. A step up. And no going back.
The 50 minute rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing, James Weldon Johnson and Rosamond Johnson's "Negro National Hymn", is thoroughly mysterious. Joe lays the melody out comfortably on the tenor. The comfort zone that he establishes lifts the burdensome weight of the universe. When the Trio and guest violinist Rosi Hertlein seize the tune and travel, the journey dazzles and goes off in directions that are unpredictable. The violin and bass enrich each other's tones. Both Dominic and Rosi exhibit their ability to elasticize their limits. Joe sings in between the reed and the air left for breathing and blends the pitches he makes on his tenor, split tones and not, within the grid work the strings and the percussion construct. This improvisation of the spiritual is put on an intellectual, analytical plane, doused with Ivesian technicalities. There are a couple of times where rhythm baits the march of the instruments. Rosi's grinding the hairs of the bow on the guts of her violin strings sometimes unfolds into delicate high pizzicatos. And then there is the background surface hiss of the cymbals and tiny bells and chimes and rapidly bowed drone of the bass all completing the moment. Joe's sax playing is undeniably Joe's; he moves from low to high pitches in a period of time that this listener does not notice. At one point, Jay Rosen's drum solo maps a distinctive interlude on the snare and a tom and bass drum with the sparkle of that tiny hi-hat cymbal. Then the sax repeats the tune, the tune, ah, the comfort of the tune. The bass and the violin stroke the shape that the sax slowly and reverently sculpts. My eyes well up with tears. Only to take a turn into an unexpected sourness that brings me back into an unideal reality. The sourness eventually is worked out and the close is solemn.
The title cut, Rapture, evolves out of Joe's inimitable rhythmic valving of the saxophone. The exquisite fluid tone that comes out of the sax is counteracted with dampness and dotted phrases. Polar musical extremes. Qualified with the rapidity of the playing of the violin, the cymbals, the snare, the bass. Weaving in and out. The drums wave and clap. Rosi scats. All four squeeze into an unforgettable ring that ends the piece.
This recording is about hearing, breathing, awareness. We are both in and out of life here. Appreciation of the tension is well worth the listening.