Monday, August 10, 2009
Garrett List - Your Own Self
I don't know a whole lot about Garrett List. According to the short bio on his website he had a background in Jazz playing and then went on to be more involved in new music composition. He's got quite a resume, having worked with minimalist and new music people like LaMonte Young, Arthur Russell (on various works from the '70s, including some of his recently unearthed pop stuff released on "Love is Overtaking Me"), Yoshi Wada, Fred Rzewski and MEV, as well as free-jazz greats like Anthony Braxton, Byard Lancaster and Ronald Shannon Jackson.
He's recorded a few albums but I haven't been able to find much of his music. His 1982 LP "Fire & Ice" on Lovely Music is, as I remember (it's been a while) a rather unfortunate pop-jazz-new music hybrid sorta thing which has not aged well at all. The only other thing I've heard is a track on the Orange Mountain Music compilation "New Music, New York 1979", which is nice but unspectacular. "Your Own Self" is another story.
This piece is a beautiful example of a minimalist/jazz crossover which is exceptionally unique. It inhabits a somewhat similar world to Fred Rzewski's Coming Together and Attica (covered earlier on this here blog, recorded around the same time and released on the same label), but is much more indebted to jazz, with a heavily improvised middle section.
The piece begins with an organ drone, and some quiet singing and reciting of phrases from the text. Gradually more instruments are introduced, primarily horns playing long tones. After a couple of minutes the bass comes in, and starts playing sparse notes, which over several minutes become more frequent until it's playing a full-fledged jazzy bass-line. The horns follow a similar build-up from long tones to faster playing.
The build up in this piece is perfect. It's so slow and fluid, you barely notice anything is happening, until you compare two points in the piece. At 11:00ish on side A there's a sudden break, and a fast, hihat-based drum beat comes in, the first major change in the piece. This section has a beautiful texture with fast piano scales, sparse bass notes, long horn tones, fast vibes, and vocalists singing and reciting the text.
Side A fades out, and Side B begins where A left off, jumping quickly into a long section of freeish jazz, with a propulsive rhythm section laying the base. This goes on for about 9 minutes, and then the piece goes back into a section resembling the first part, with long tones and quiet speaking voices.
I don't recognize most of the names of the musicians on this LP. There's Fred Rzewski on piano, Jon Gibson on sax, and vocalist Joan LaBarbara (who is an excellent composer as well, and appears on the classic 70s recording of Philip Glass' "Music in Twelve Parts"). Other than that I don't know much about the other musicians. Oh well.
I imagine I'll be saying this a lot, but someone should really re-release this LP. It would be great to hear the whole piece without the side-break in the middle, for one thing.
This LP was released in 1973 on Opus One records.
Download 320 kbps MP3