The boldness of the Harvey Valdes Trio should be applauded. There is no shortage of identikit contemporary guitar trios where music meets noise and silence, which present an anaemic, straight-laced portrait of this idiosyncratic music. At first blush, Harvey Valdes new trio disc is no different. He obeys the legal requirements to include distortion and acoustic feedback, with violinist Sana Nagano using dissonant melodic lines and wild double stops while drummer Joe Hertenstein cuts loose with irregular tempos throwing in noise as additional indemnity.
The performances, though, challenge the safe conformity, the curious predictability that smooths the edges in so many contemporary recitals. Where the melody in ‘Shuffle’ or ’25 Bars’ says it should be loud, it is loud. Nothing should be startling about this recording except the raw and inventive contrapuntal elements in the melodies of each song. Harvey Valdes and Nagano, especially refuse to temper these moments with anything that is safe. There is an improvisatory, mercurial air about much of the playing that is truly refreshing. This is especially so in works such as ‘Postural’ and ‘Blackjack’ that do more than merely conjure the ghost of Jimi Hendrix in the voice of Valdes.
The trio’s music is not for the faint-hearted. Sudden jolts in dynamic tempo can hurt the unsuspecting ear. However, in these spirited performances we hear music that effectively illuminates guitar, violin and drumset. There’s no disguising the music’s considerable technical demands. Nor does the playful counterpoint between guitar and violin ever lose its effervescence and luminosity.
Track List: Coil; Shuffle; Finalized; 25 Bars; Untitled 21; Postural; Blackjack.
Personnel: Harvey Valdes: guitar; Sana Nagano: violin; Joe Hertenstein: drums.
Release date: April 2016
Running time: 42:55