Jack Wright’s “The Indeterminate Existence”, and the Bob Marsh/Theresa Wong/Bryan Eubanks “Luggage” albums are the first of Last Visible Dog Record’s new avant-garde series of releases. Although Last Visible Dog has previously been home to many “outsider” and “difficult listening” artists, these two albums radically expand the boundaries previously encompassed. I am extremely happy to be able to tell you about these– hopefully, this will be a long-running series for LVD.
I had to do some “reading up” on Jack Wright. According to the liner notes (and practically everyone’s account I find googling) Wright is one of the patriarchs of improvisational music. His exuberance and enthusiasm for improvised music drove him to a terrific amount of travel– so much so that he picked up a “Johnny Appleseed” of free improv reputation. For me, one of Wright’s most interesting qualities is that even in his mid-sixties, he’s still actively questioning his work– and in many ways, that’s what “The Indeterminate Existence” is about– a look at the relationship between our past and present selves, and specifically, Wright’s.
Frankly, there are so many huge ideas here that I am nearly broken trying to understand them all. Just the liner notes alone are frightening– Wright unassumingly displays an understanding and depth miles beyond what I’ve previously encountered– and still raises questions he can’t answer. Nine short paragraphs, and I’m smitten! Here is the sort of musician I love to hear: questioning, seeking, verbose, talented; both a living Titan and an ordinary human being.
And the music? It doesn’t let me down for a moment. Again, its truly frightening. That one disc could contain this… and then of course, I immediate start wondering about the rest of the Jack Wright catalog– it is already too much, and this is even neglecting live performances.
I am absolutely blown away.
And how cool is this? I’d been writing away to someone almost every time I get one of those “Luggage Store Tonight!” e-mails– yet another nice show happening far away from me. I had hoped to one day receive a reply that, yes, they would make a recording for me so I could broadcast it on my radio show.
Though it’s surely over-reaching, I’d like to think that my pestering filtered through the collective conciousness and somehow ended up with the release of “Luggage,” featuring improvising musicians Bob Marsh, Theresa Wong, and Bryan Eubanks performing two duets at San Francisco’s Luggage Store Gallery.
It was definitely worth the wait! On the first of two tracks, Bob Marsh is joined by cellist Theresa Wong. Marsh plays cello as well– though there may be some additional electronics involved. With someone as fluent with improvisation as Marsh, though, it would be foolish to make too many assumptions. Regardless, this set integrates remarkable scratching string sounds, sputtered vocal declamations, percussive tapping, and both performers alternately cooing to (and conversing with) their instruments.
The second track again features Marsh, this time with saxophonist and electronics improviser Eubanks. While Marsh provides a boulder-dotted landscape, Eubanks suggests clear skies with whisps of glassy feedback. Occasionally, you can hear traffic from outside the Luggage Store Gallery, giving everything a lovely sense of place. Every so often, it sounds like Varese’s “Arcana” dueting with the cloud chamber portions of Partch’s “Intrusions.” At other times, Eubank’s playing is so incredibly alien that it seems impossible.
Best of all, the sound quality is excellent. I had a wonderful time imagining I was in the audience; and the police sirens “outside” made this fairly convincing with headphones. I ordinarily complain a bit about liner notes, but in this case, the warm nature of the recording and the seamless ability of the players involved leaves me wanting nothing more than a ticket to the city and a second disc to listen to on my trip.
Obviously, I think both discs are excellent. Jack Wright surpasses my wildest expectations, and the “Luggage” disc provides an answer to my reams of e-mail. Highly recommended.