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Out of Chaos

Artist: Jason Eckardt
Jason Eckardt - Out of Chaos CD
Label: Mode
Regular Price: $14.95
On Sale For: $7.48 
Year: 2004
Format: CD


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Listen NowAfter Serra
Listen NowTangled Loops
An American who came of age in the late 1980s, Jason Eckardt's music captures the essences of the genres that led him first to performance (as a guitarist), and then to composition: heavy metal and art rock, jazz, gagaku and p'ansori, the Second Viennese School, American post-serialism, and the new complexity. It evokes the power of inspired, virtuosic improvisation, the incisiveness of classical ensemble playing, and the raw expressivity of ethnic music.

The first complete CD of young, New York based composer Jason Eckardt's music.

All first recordings.

"The hiker and the listener have much in common," writes Marilyn Nonken in her liner notes. "Eckardt's music offers the listener many pathways, each leading to a different listening experience." It's not exactly a profound remark, nor a particularly original one (and could apply to hundreds of composers and a multitude of different styles of music), but is quite helpful. For over a generation now listeners have been far too intimidated by contemporary music, particularly of the New Complexity persuasion, seeing it as intellectually impenetrable and as "unlistenable" as it is "unplayable". Fortunately, we're approaching the end of that particular tunnel, and, after Elliott Carter, composers as "difficult" as Brian Ferneyhough and Milton Babbitt are beginning to get some long overdue acclaim. Jason Eckardt was born in the city where Milton Babbitt taught for most of his working life, Princeton NJ, and duly passed through Babbitt's hands, as well as those of Ferneyhough, James Dillon, Karlheinz Stockhausen and, principally, Mario Davidovsky, with whom he studied at Columbia. Not before majoring in guitar at Berklee, though - Eckardt is the first to acknowledge the importance of Metal and free jazz in his background. Nonken claims he turned to composition after discovering Webern, but if one composer comes to mind on listening to the opening ensemble work "After Serra", it's Varèse. (Maybe filtered through Birtwistle.) Strong gestures, recognisable contours and vivid contrasts define the music at every level. "Tangled Loops", performed by Nonken and soprano saxophonist Taimur Sullivan, namechecks Parker (Charlie, not Evan this time), Coltrane and Dolphy, and is perhaps closest to the latter, in its dramatic and dogged pursuit of the interval. It's a killer piece, and must be a bitch to play - hats off for Sullivan. Pianist Nonken is no slouch either as performers go, as PT readers may well remember, and "A Glimpse Retraced" is a chamber concerto for her and flute / piccolo, clarinet, violin and cello. Proof that there's plenty of life left yet in the old Pierrot line-up, it's also the most accessible piece on the disc, alternating tough angular lyricism - Birtwistle once more comes to mind - with an exploration of extreme register as chunky and funky as mid 70s Ligeti. The playing throughout by the members of Ensemble 21 is superb (bravo to clarinettist Jean Kopperud for making New Complexity Clarinet on "Polarities" as sensual and thrilling as klezmer) and the album is as strong and solid as Richard Serra's "Tilted Arc", a photograph of which adorns the cover.
--- Dan Warburton

After Serra (2000) (14:13)
for flute (bass flute), Bb clarinet (bass clarinet), violin, violoncello & piano
Ensemble 21
Jeffrey Milarsky, conductor
Tangled Loops (1996) (7:35)
Taimur Sullivan, soprano saxophone
Marilyn Nonken, piano

A Glimpse Retraced (1999) (14:02)
for piano solo, flute (piccolo), Bb clarinet, violin & violoncello
Marilyn Nonken, piano
Ensemble 21
Paul Hostetter, conductor

Polarities (1998) (9:53, 16:43)
for flute (piccolo/sleigh bells), Bb clarinet (Eb clarinet/bass clarinet/sandpaper blocks), violin, viola, violoncello,
piano & percussion
Ensemble 21
Jeffrey Milarsky, conductor

See all titles featuring Jason Eckardt

Michael J. Schumacher - Five Sound INstallations DVD
Michael J. Schumacher - Five Sound INstallations DVD
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Lekjaren Hiller - A Total Matrix Of Possibilities CD
Gordon Mumma - Music For Solo Piano CD
Gordon Mumma - Music For Solo Piano CD
Karlheinz Stockhausen - In the Sky I am Walking CD
Karlheinz Stockhausen - In the Sky I am Walking CD

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