Rich Woodson's Ellipsis
The Nail That Stands Up Gets Pounded Down


As soon as I opened the small packet coming from New York I saw a CD by Rich Woodson's Ellipsis. The name rang a bell. In fact, five years ago I had received a CD titled Control And Resistance (it was on the Cuneiform label), recorded by an almost-identical line-up; but I didn't remember a thing about it - not a good sign - so I decided to listen to it again.

The music on Control And Resistance is obviously of the written kind, quite pleasant-sounding from a timbral point of view: two saxophones - soprano and tenor - double bass, drums, the leader's guitar (the instrument that's featured the least). When judging only from the instrumentation one could think of a jazz group (playing written parts - here names like Anthony Braxton or the Rova Saxophone Quartet come to mind), while the music is quite similar to... modern classical music? Intricate melodic lines going from one instrument to another (it's called... hocketing, right?), a development quite similar to a string quartet, a soprano that sounds as quite similar to a flute or an oboe; drums are mostly used as orchestral percussions. Excellent performances, but not of the kind of stuff that makes me eager to listen to an album all over again.

The Nail That Stands Up Gets Pounded Down is quite similar to its predecessor. Anthony Burr's clarinet here replaces Peter Epstein's soprano, while we have again Aaron Stewart (tenor), Mat Fieldes (double bass) and John Hollenbeck (drums): all excellent instrumentalists with a fine CV, as a quick Web search easily shows. Also present are the intricate developments of the previous work - it's only starting with track #5 that the compositions start presenting a different breath. The record has no real minuses - bit not real pluses, either. And its one-dimensional compositional dynamic doesn't make for a very involved listening.

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2005 | Nov. 10, 2005