Introductions  |   Resonance  |  Mandala Records – MR103  |  Available from CD Baby.


Resonance is a 7-member chamber jazz group but dig the instruments: cello, viola, violin, winds, sax, bass, drums, and piano, an interesting configuration that one would not be amiss in harkening back to Paul Winter when reading of it. And there is indeed a strong blending of Winter’s late 60s incarnation with what would become Oregon and then his later New Agey work but also some of the killer older be-bop phase the guy excelled at in the early 60s before he turned the corner. Resonance’s members have prestigious credits to their names, having played with giants and talented bubbling-unders, but Stephen McQuarry (piano) and Michele Walther (violin) actually played with—geez, I can hardly breathe to say it!—John Cage.

Man o man, I’d have happily sold my irascible soul just to have spoken with Cage, but Stephen and Michele actually played with the guy! When I interviewed Tomasz Stanko and he told me he studied under Penderecki, you could have picked me up off the floor with a sponge, but . . . actually . . . playing . . . with . . . John . . . Cage . . . right . . . there . . . right . . . then? Lord, lord, lord, some people have all the luck.

However, this little datum goes a long way to explain the innumerable delightful eccentricities in every cut of this disc, a potpourri that must be listened deeply to in order to really appreciate the never-ending hybridizations. The surface sound at first seems normal enough, but tracks like the Gil Evans / Miles Davis Prelude, So What? are immersed in what Gil, Miles, and Kenton were so adept at: weaving broad tapestries that were not only extremely attractive in pedestrian manners but wrought of interlocking puzzle pieces that fascinate and challenge even the most ardent aficionado.

Then there’s Holst’s Jupiter and you’ve never heard the song done this way, trust me, as though George Winston and Phil Aaberg had penned it while listening to Copland and Satie. The treatment of The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby is also striking and almost the exact opposite of the best cover ever done: Pure Food and Drug Act’s outlandishly cool but virtually unknown hi-energy version. Resonance’s take is nearly patrician, but with many jazz transfigurations keeping things from dying of Upper Class decorousness. I think John Lennon would have choked with laughter at the dominant inflection while admiring the clever interleavings escorting the song around the block, through the back alley, and then back into Buckingham Palace.

And I have to say I was highly amused at the insertion of a 0:26 version of John McLaughlin’s Opus 1, which is 0:21 on the LP it debuted in (Visions of the Emerald Beyond), but what on Earth prompts anyone to ferret out such minutia in the first place? Hilarious! . . . but perfectly fitting, as the extremely brief squib is a great segue. The CD ends with Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea’s Song to John, Pts. 1 & 2, a tribute to Coltrane that actually is more reminiscent of John’s wife’s (Alice’s) work, especially in sections of her nearly unknown but to-die-for Illuminations…well, Pt. 1 anyway, Pt. 2 sounds as though Jean-Luc Ponty wrote it, and that’s always a good thing, too. And thus, dear reader, you have, in four paragraphs, as many influences as you could shake a stick at, but there’s a hell of a lot more beyond what I’ve described.

Track List:

  • Eleanor Rigby (Lennon / McCartney)
  • Gemini (Jimmy Heath)
  • In a Sentimental Mood (Ellington / Kurtz / Mills)
  • Opus 1 (John McLaughlin)
  • Gaviota (Clare Fischer)
  • Prelude / So What (Evans / Davis)
  • Jupiter (Gustav Holst)
  • The Journey of Each Other (Stephen McQuarry)
  • Moon and Sand (Engvick / Palitz / Wilder)
  • See You Next Wednesday (Stephen McQuarry)
  • Song to John, Pt.1 (Clarke / Corea)
  • Song to John, Pt.2 (Clarke / Corea)

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