Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Label: Balance Point Acoustics – bpa 003
Format: CD, Album; Country: US - Released: 2002
Style: Free Improvisation
Tracks 1-7 studio recordings 10/19/01 in Emeryville, Ca 
Tracks 8-11 live recordings 10/17/01 at Tuva Space in Berkeley, Ca 
Track 12 live rec. 10/18/01 at the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco, Ca
Mastered by Scott R. Looney
Photos by Edgar Alan Brightbill
Cover artwork by Max Neumann, 2001 (200 x 160 cm)
Layout & graphic design: Carol Genetti (Noodlemeister design)
Produced by Jerome Bryerton

Culled from three dates last October, two live and one in the studio, "Three October Meetings" features the King Übü of clarinets and saxophones, Wolfgang Fuchs, and Chicago's outstanding Jerome Bryerton on percussion. It's a total triumph: the turn-on-a-dime reactivity of his younger sparring partners pushes Fuchs to deliver some of his best work for years. Check this out.

For listeners who do not enjoy freely improvised music or 'instant compositions', this release may prove to be a difficult experience. The sounds are based around colors, moods and textures, rather than melodic lines or avant wailing. As such it is very demanding of ones attention (this is not background music). Those who enjoy free improv or have a curious ear may find themselves rewarded by these improvisers who clearly enjoy working together on their collective expressions.

Three October meetings is the third release on bassist Damon Smith's Balance Point Acoustics label. These three musicians met on three occasions in the Bay Area during October of 2001. The disc consists of two live performance s on consecutive days followed by a single studio encounter, which although last in time is the first music heard. What is noteworthy is that these musicians all hail from different geological locations; Fuchs is based in Berlin, Bryerton in Chicago and Smith in the Bay Area. While they may originate from different parts of the world, their work here is in harmony, as the focus of the music is on the manner in which silence is used in conjunction with free improvisation. Much of the music contains tension akin to an impending storm, which at times proves to be a demanding task. Some may view the music here as too abstract, wondering when more melodic or flowing lines will emerge, but thats really the point: the music is about using silence and space and the way these three musicians exploit these organic conceptions.

Meeting Three begins the album with seven relatively short vignettes, each capturing a mood or feeling they generally dark with much of the focus on rhythmic sounds that jump around the surface. Fuchs emits disparate tones from his bass and contrabass clarinets and sopranino saxophoness in order to offer variance. They range from short blasts, to car horn honks, to bubbling sopranino squeeks to low rumbling, simmering bass clarinet reflections that sound like the hum of assembly line machines. Such contributions inspire both Smith and Bryerton. Smith's bass technique utilizes a range of arco lines to percussive scraping and hand plucked string notes. What is particularly engaging is to listen to the interaction between Fuchs clarinets and Smith's techniques, which constantly play off of one another. Perhaps it is my drum/percussion bias, but the real stand out here is Bryerton. Because the music is very percussive Bryerton really shines. Bryerton's approach suggests the influence of the Oxely/Lytton/Lovens axis, driven by the manipulation of a variety esoteric, multi-ethnic percussion as well as the exploration of the sound of an arco against his cymbals. Meeting One and Meeting Two feature lengthier explorations, perhaps showing works in progress. these live performances suggest that the musicians were getting to know one another's ideas and boundaries. As above, the music is similar in that what is particularly engaging is listening to Bryerton navigate his way around the textures of his instruments and as a counterpoint to the dialogs between Smith and Fuchs. Bryerton mixes away like scientist, a little of this and a little of that.

This music is not for the weak hearted and certainly not everyone's cup of tea. That is fine of course, as this is a challenging recording, calling for focused listening. this recording demonstrates that these musicians have a rapport one that must have been fascinating to witness live.

Reviewed by: JAY COLLINS, Cadence

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  1. WOLFGANG FUCHS, JEROME BRYERTON, DAMON SMITH – Three October Meetings (2001)