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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jim Connolly, "It is Only Gravity that Makes Wearing A Crown Painful"

Judging from his new release It's Only Gravity that Makes Wearing A Crown Painful (pfMENTUM 061), composer Jim Connolly writes modern music for chamber ensemble that has a distinct Americana feel to it. The Gove County String Quartet along with Anna Abbey on piano and toy piano, and the composer on contrabass present a program of 20 miniatures that have a kind of naive diatonic quality. There is much charm. It isn't quite the sort of naive diatonicism that Erik Satie or John Cage sometimes put forward. It is closer in spirit to Aaron Copland in his more rustic moments, though not precisely. And of course Copland always had a kind of sophisticated way of going about things no matter what he did. Jim Connolly hews more to a folk lifeways in body as well as spirit, albeit transformed to a concert medium.

The music has more charm than it does rigorous form in the more academic sense. For the open listener I suppose this is neither here nor there in the end. The music beguiles and clears the air of any stuffy particulates. I find with successive listens that Connolly's chamber music is only facile on the surface. There is the feeling of an intimate evening of "plain" music in a rural homestead sometime in the unspecific past, but something original and involved going on underneath it as well.

The sound is as plainly presented as the music. It is not something to show off your system to visitors, if anybody does that any more, but it more than adequately conveys the spirit and nuance of the music at hand.

Very interesting, Give it a few hearings and decide for yourself.

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