There is considerable evidence to show that Composers Concordance may be one of the most exciting labels in American contemporary music. What might read like outrageous hyperbole becomes all too real when the music of its artists literally leaps off the page. It is music that takes wing and flies. Not weighed down by ponderous concepts or schemes, never looking over its shoulder at what the rest of the world is doing. Its artists, no doubt with the towering influence of Gene Pritsker, are eager for adventure and discoveries of their own. Their music sits squarely in the humanist tradition, but without dogmatic rejection of anything that may be potentially grist to its mill. It can be warmly emotional of blisteringly energetic, but it is never opportunistic, sentimental or gimmicky. Most of all, the music of this imprint is riotously colourful and he is certainly not averse to exploring the outer limits of what instruments can do. You can pick any recording to examine proof of this. Or you can examine in forensic detail two of these latest ones.
The principal virtues in this coupling concern clarity (especially with regard to inner voices) and musical intelligence. Gene Pritsker draws some shapely phrasing from his guitar and together with drummer Peter Jarvis the two virtuoso instrumentalists trace seamless lines that bring a rich glow to the compositions on this recording. The guitarist’s duet with Jarvis on ‘Roundelay’ is magical. The whimsically titled ‘Pritskrvis’ might certainly give the impression that this is disc is playful, almost flippant, but to assume so would be a mistake. There is much happening beneath the surface of what might sound like clever or perfunctory, even self-conscious pieces. Of course, Pritsker and Jarvis dispel notions of facetiousness quite early on in the proceedings and continue throughout the recording to produce performances of rare and visceral excitement. They are sui generis manifestations of special schooling and unique talent. This is a duet recording by two musicians of impeccable pedigree.
The Mozart Influence
Several compose and arrange the angular music on this disc, which is actually more seriously deferential to Mozart than what one might suspect it to be from its cover art. Several high-profile writers including the French horn maestro John Clark, bassist Dan Cooper, trombonist David Taylor and, of course Gene Pritsker pay tribute the unblemished music of Mozart. And all of them come together with vocalists Charles Coleman, Chanda Rule, Milica Paranosic and Patrick Grant as well as pre-eminent percussionist, and drummer Javier Diaz and Gernot Bernroider. The ensemble also boasts – and happily so – three other prodigiously-talented musicians: violinist Lynn Bechtold, cellist Dan Barrett and trumpeter Franz Hackl. Not only is it a privilege to listen to a seasoned outfit playing with such opulent tone, unbounded musicality and selfless application, the dynamic recording displays what is best about the personality of the music on Composers Concordance – the label. Acutely mindful of Mozart’s greatness, the musicians are deeply proud of their distinguished heritage. What a fine band they are. It is such a joy to savour their artistry here.