|Composer Ken Schaphorst has released a series of superb large-ensemble albums over the last decade, featuring stellar performances from luminaries like John Medeski, Chris Wood, Billy Martin, Chris Speed, Andrew D'Angelo, Donny McCaslin, Drew Gress, Uri Caine, the Either/Orchestra and many others.
On Indigenous Technology, Schaphorst leaves behind the broad scope of the jazz orchestra, focussing on his own trumpet and piano, along with Matt Turner on cello and Dane Richeson on percussion. It's the first recording that has featured Schaphorst's playing as much as his writing.
Based in jazz, this CD falls somewhere between the group Oregon and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, combining a Schaphorst's distinctly American harmonic sense with melodies and rhythms that evoke music from around the world. Many of the pieces have a meditative quality, others have a more driving and earthy sound.
The trio here developed while Schaphorst served as chairman of the jazz program at Lawrence U., living in Wisconsin between 1991 and 2001. (He is currently chair of the jazz department at New England Conservatory, overseeing heavyweights like Steve Lacy, Cecil McBee, Danilo Perez, Paul Bley, etc.) Dane Richeson and Matt Turner were two of his closest musical allies during his Wisconsin days, and the music on Indigenous Technology was composed specifically for their three distinct voices. Best known as a jazz drummer, Richeson is featured here in a less traditional role on marimba, with percussion often played simultaneously, as in "See Through You," on which bells attached to Richeson's feet are used to keep time. On "Shades of Bronze" Dane plays almglocken (tuned cowbells) as well as marimba and an antique glockespiel in an effort to recreate some of the colors of the Balinese gamelan orchestra. Matt Turner elicits just about every conceivable sound out of the cello, from percussive strumming to explorations of harmonics. The traditional roles of the jazz ensemble are largely replaced by new ways of interacting.