Peggy Lee and drummer/percussionist Dylan van der Schyff are two Canadian
musicians whose work is reasonably familiar to this writer, from the
mostly composed territories of the Peggy Lee Band to those situations
when improvisation prevails - check Floating 1...2...3 (2002), the live
album recorded by Lee and van der Schyff alongside saxophonist/clarinet
player Michael Moore. Not so familiar to me are the CVs of guitarist
Ron Samworth and trumpet player Bill Clark. Reading the liner notes
to Intersection Poems I learnt that in 1992 the four musicians formed
a group called Talking Pictures, a line-up that considered the (so-called)
Downtown Scene of New York as one of their most important influences.
Recorded live on March 28, 2003, this CD presents a live meeting of
the four musicians and Wayne Horvitz, one of the main figures of the
we have an improvised performance. But here we have to consider the
term "improvisation" as being equal to "creating something
from nothing", not as something where atonal particles prevail.
The performance was edited by Dylan van der Schyff, so I don't know
how much of the form that we can find here is due to his work. But I'd
say that Peggy Lee on cello seems to favour melodic developments anyway.
While Horvitz, here heard only on piano, appears to be partial to an
approach that's consciously constructivist - check the arpeggios that
open merge a la gauche and ...when amber flashing; the way his piano
gives the cello a context in Intersection Poems; the propulsion that
the prepared piano gives the whole group in Elk Crossing. The fine colours
of van der Schyff's drums are nicely highlighted by the clear recording.
Ron Samworth's work on guitar is versatile, sometimes timbrally exciting.
I didn't find Bill Clark's performance to be always convincing; sometimes
he reminded me of Leo Smith. As usual, Peggy Lee's cello is a good instrumental
Poems is an album that won't change the history of music but that nonetheless
offers a lot of good music. At 40', it offers perfect length, too. Highly
recommended to those who like music that sounds "composed, but
with an edge".
Beppe Colli 2005
| Feb. 6, 2005