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Sunday, October 31, 2021

Douglas J. Cuomo, Seven Limbs, with Nels Cline and the Aizuri Quartet


Of the new there is no end. Our Modern music turns and bends Pretzel like in a never ending panorama that parades before our ears if we are fortunate to get to hear it all. Such a thing continues happily for, today an album of chamber music by Douglas J. Cuomo featuring guitarist Nels Cline and the Aizuri String Quartet. Seven Limbs (Sunnyside SSC 1641) is both the title of the CD and the seven-sectioned, 18 part work that the recording contains.

There is a kind of magic in the blend of Nels Cline's electric guitar and the sonorous strings of the Aizuri Quartet. The liners draw our attention to something Miles Davis said that is worth reproducing here as well. Great art happens, he said, "If you put a musician in a place where they have to do something different from what they do all the time." Something like that happens when guitarist Nels Cline and the Aizuri Quartet are in some ways relied upon to accomplish the equivalent of a high wire act, inspired by the Buddhist "Seven Limbs" form of dwelling upon the turn of the wheel of dharma, a virtuoso series of situations for the group that require improvisatory and spontaneous togetherness that mark out a kind of spiritual pilgrimage in musical sound.

Like the quartet we covered the other day, Ruo's "A Dust in Time," there are long and  sometimes slow ostinatos that underpin a continual exploration of tonal reaching forward, chant-like, Expressionistic torrents and everything in between. Nels Cline comes through with a beautiful reading and extension of it all, with guitar work that suggests jazz and fusion but ultimately harnesses the energy to compliment the quartet's exciting effusion of dramatic sound. It is music that has moments of thoughtfulness, or kinetic drama, endurance, resistance, turmoil, euphoria, stillness.

Like Ruo's music of several days back, this post-post Modern approach is something that feels intimate as you live with it. We all have had a certain amount of suffering in the past few years. This music recognizes how hard it has been, maybe, and tries to speak beautifully consoling tones for you to live within. Bravo!

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