Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Who needs a tune?


Toynbee deconstructionist David Derrick has a noteworthy post developing the idea that, in David's own words -"there were two great ages of the tune. The first was in the sixteenth century. It produced the greatest and most elemental tunes. Think of the Old 100th (sixteenth-century French and still sung every year at Concord, Massachusetts), Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (German, circa 1600), Vom Himmel hoch (Luther), many others... The second age was after 1800, and especially after 1850, and it produced a kind of apotheosis of the tune, especially in Tchaikovsky and Puccini. In the great age of counterpoint and in the classical era that followed it the tune was, relatively speaking, in abeyance". All of which chimes with a disc that has been a frequent visitor to my CD player recently.

Ochion Jewell's new CD First Suite for Quartet is an iconoclastic essay in what Free Jazz magazine describes as "melody free" music. Ochion is a tenor saxophonist and his quartet of piano, string bass and drums is drawn from his contemporaries on a masters course at CalArts. The through composed Suite is an exploration of traditional jazz, contemporary classical harmonies, west African rhythmic structures, American folk melodies, Coltrane like mysticism and rock grooves which is not afraid to flaunt its eclecticism by ending with a beguiling piano trio take on You are my sunshine.

Free Jazz links Keith Jarrett, Ochion Jewell and Dawn of Midi as pioneers of a proto-melody free movement. At which point convergence comes into play as Dawn of Midi featured here in a recent post on the subject of Classical music and the mass market fallacy. Ochion Jewell's Suite has a seven movement through composed structure. But despite this it lies outside the accepted definition of classical music and is part of an accerlerating trend towards granularity. Which means all the exciting things are happening in niches, leaving mainstream classical beached in the shallows of the mass market. So who needs a tune?

Ochion Jewell's First Suite for Quartet is released on by independent label Mythology Records and my copy was supplied as a requested review sample. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk Also on Facebook and Twitter.

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