[JPL] Jangly Idiosyncrasies With Institutional Support

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 3 18:44:44 EST 2007

December 1, 2007
Music Review
Jangly Idiosyncrasies With Institutional Support 
It’s tempting to view the career trajectory of the
saxophonist Rob Reddy as indicative of a broader
shift. He belongs to the constellation of avant-garde
musicians who spent the 1990s working in close orbit
to the Knitting Factory. More recently, faced with
leaner options, he has grown increasingly independent
even while courting institutional support. 

On Thursday Mr. Reddy appeared onstage a handful of
blocks from his old home base and made a point of
thanking Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke
Foundation, as well as the TriBeCa Performing Arts
Center, which was his host for the second night in a
row. He was presenting a new commission, not his first
this year: in October he unveiled a suite during a
Brooklyn concert series he organized, and in March he
performed a large-scale work at the TriBeCa center,
recording the music for release. (“The Book of the
Storm” is already out on his Reddy Music label,
available at reddymusic.com). 

To Mr. Reddy’s credit, the jangly idiosyncrasies of
his music have not been blunted by repeated contact
with financing organizations. That has a lot to do
with instrumentation. At least it does in the case of
Gift Horse, the band Mr. Reddy led this week. 

In the five sketchlike compositions performed on
Thursday, timbres were often grouped in striking
pairings. On more than one piece Mr. Reddy’s soprano
saxophone shared a serpentine melody with Charles
Burnham’s electric violin, while a spiky countermelody
featured Brandon Ross on guitar and Mark Taylor on
French horn or mellophone. 

“Judas,” one such example, struck a spark-plug
dissonance before the tempo slackened for intrepid
solos by Mr. Burnham and Mr. Ross. Another tune,
“Cowboy Jesus,” served as a framework for some twangy
and off-kilter mandolin playing by Mr. Burnham. At
choice moments — notably in a fanfare that signaled
the influence of Ornette Coleman — the musicians
converged to attack a line in octaves. Mr. Reddy,
playing more soprano than alto, improvised only when
the music seemed to call for his brightly serrated

Given all this attention to timbre, it was difficult
to shrug off the overamplification of the bassist Dom
Richards and the tabla player Samir Chatterjee. And it
was just as hard to ignore an unsettled feeling
between them, where pulse was concerned. In this area,
at least, there was evident room for improvement. Mr.
Reddy’s music may thrive on restlessness, but it works
best with a solid foundation.


Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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