Recently released in the continuation of the Blue Series on Thirsty Ear Records is JUNK MAGIC, spirited by keyboardist Craig Taborn and performed with drummer David King, violist Mat Maneri, and tenor saxman, Aaron Stewart. Taborn has established himself here as a composer. The entire recording is full and punching the bag of modality in its canonical delivery.
Many times the structure is squeezed electronically to widen its scope. But the acoustics of the sax and the strings contrasted with the tinkling of the electronic keyboard calibrate sound that contributes to an atmosphere almost as if the music was penetrating the thickest wood and out of that zone arise the sounds of birds, peepers, and water falling or carving out a stream over rocks to its lowest point. Steps are taken into the brightness of a field and we move with the music slowly at an even pace, overcoming natural obstacles at any given spot. The travels become wide and mysterious as the miked strings open up the sound in a peculiarly large way that no other instrument could.
Midway, the sax and drums deliver an offbeat groove that offers a point of discovery that enlivens the dynamic evolution of the music process. And once again, a fountain of repetitions keeps us bound to the statement. Then as if a series of andantes were to leapfrog allegros in an orchestral piece, the sound proceeds thoughtfully and evenly until a rattle that plays seeming havoc with the tempo, but which is based firmly in the ground with the piano and the snapping jamming drum, propels the individual sounds of each instrument to come to light and dance.
The last installment of this recording speaks to a willingness to reach out for the yawn of a conclusion. The unrelenting bass tones of the electronics support the even stroking of the viola bow moving distinctly up and down. The bowing encourages the imitation and development of the seriousness of the stroked theme. It is as if this were the last gathering of a multivarious herd of living creatures before a mounting storm. The bowing, the bowing, the scratching, the bowing responsibly leads each of the instruments to a place of gripping solitude. And then to complete silence, pressed out of the tube of a last electronic current.
Inherently, the music indicates that it does not want to vanish into thin air. Instinctually, as listeners, we want more.