Saturday, 22 March 2014

Jane Ira Bloom's Modern Drama from 1987

Obviously by the time the eighties came 'round, album covers were no longer a priority, as can be seen here.

This album is first of all completely unknown, but extremely well written, and features a track that has always been one of my favourite 'recent' jazz compositions, called "Strange and Completely".  I will post an mp3 for only a short time out of respect for the artist who is still very much active.  From wikipedia:

"Bloom was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 12th 1955 to Joel & Evelyn Bloom. She began as a pianist and drummer, later switching to the alto saxophone, and eventually settling on the soprano saxophone as her primary instrument. She first began playing the saxophone seriously while at Yale University, from which she received a liberal arts degree and a master's degree in music.

Following Yale, Bloom relocated to New York City. She has worked with Mark Dresser, Bobby Previte, Kenny Wheeler, Charlie Haden, Bob Brookmeyer, Julian Priester, Jay Clayton, Fred Hersch, Jin Hi Kim, and Min Xiao-Fen.

She is noted for her use of live electronics, using a foot pedal to trigger various electronic effects that alter the sound of her saxophone, at times creating the illusion of an orchestra of soprano saxophones.  She was the first musician to be commissioned by the NASA Art Program; in 1989 she created three original musical compositions: Most Distant Galaxy, for soprano saxophone and live electronics, prepared tape, bass, drums, and electroacoustic percussion; Fire & Imagination, for soprano saxophone, improvisors, and chamber orchestra; and Beyond the Sky, for wind ensemble.[1][2][3]  

The asteroid 6083 Janeirabloom was named after her.[1]  

In 2007, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in music composition.  Recent collaborations include live performances and recordings with the underground New York orchestra M'Lumbo.  Bloom is presently a core faculty member at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City's Greenwich Village.  She is married to actor/director, Joe Grifasi."

The incredible, almost other-wordly beauty of Strange and Completely:

Starting with an ascending series of fourth-note intervals on the soprano sax, we move into a very meditative F minor, the first phrase of which recalls the start of Mingus' famous composition "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" but then almost instantly devolves through modulations into other keys, other tonalities, only barely resurfacing for air at recollections of D flat chords or the original F minor chord in subsequent passages of the soprano. In this way she masterfully evokes the kind of free association style of thinking that comes to you just before you go to sleep for example, recalling the good and the bad in the track of your life, the sadnesses, the nostalgias that make you feel as if you never accomplished everything you set out to do, your childhood full of hope and anticipation...  the masterful piano chords which layer and flow like a river, by Fred Hersch, are interrupted as the soprano picks up the soloing again with more intensity, notice how much more insistent or emotional Jane gets as she restates the melody higher and higher, as if underlying the emotion, thinking deeper and deeper of what it means to exist, more intensely remembering some happy moment that passed long ago, or perhaps the piano and the sax are dialoguing, telling each other how strongly they feel, like lovers... this solo passage ends with the sax almost breathlessly descending a normal scale to the basic F minor tonic key.  Then the melody is restated in a basic way, and we're left with a long drawn out C bass note on the piano... what was she thinking of, I wonder, a love, a memory, a meditation? or a mystery?