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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Jerome Kitzke, The Redness of Blood

 

I do not suppose I need to remind readers how the integration of text-voices in all kinds of Modernist works can be an iffy proposition. It is a combination of course of composer and artist(s) and when it does not work it can even be a little painful. But then there are the good results and hurrah for them.

A very nice example just hitting the release stacks is an album of Jerome Kitzke music entitled The Redness of Blood (New World Records 80834-2). There are four chamber works to be heard on the program, two for a pianist who also sings, makes specific vocal sounds and recites text--starring nicely Lisa Moore and Sarah Cahill. Then there are two with six or seven artists who play and/or have vocal parts.

The music is a series of "Post-Modern," openly imaginative forays that show the composer can put together such things with a disarming good humor, an unpretentious idea of how these things can present themselves, sometimes even in a quasi-traditional Asian unity of expression and/or otherwise resourcefully Contemporary in outlook. The artists respond with a kind of natural expressiveness that puts everything together in nicely listenable ways. One thinks of how Crumb and perhaps how Stockhausen and Cage  have  done such things as precedent, though Kitzke remains consistently original in all of this. The voices can be percussive, articulated, wide-ranging in use of available speech sounds, and well integrated into the instrumental parts so that one feels like all this makes a special kind of sense reserved for inspired peaks in New Music of this kind. Oh and the press sheet mentions Harry Partch as well. Yes, I hear that, too. All in good, forward moving ways.

So who is Kitzke? He was born in 1955, which makes him roughly my age. He makes a music that again in the materials that came with the CD can be noted falls into a somewhat more simple expression than typical High Modernist works in this realm, yet too more transformative and mutable than typical Minimalism. And that betweenness embraces an invigorating vitality and continual possibility of transformation. 

Each work has its own momentum, its own trajectory and aural-semantic space. The two piano-voice works have a more directly presentative vibe about them. Kudos to Lisa Moore for her fine musico-dramatic wholeness on "Bringing Roses with Her Words" (2009) and Sarah Cahill for "There is A Field" (2008) with texts by Whitman and Rumi. Both handle the multi-faceted demands with a fabulous steady-state inspiration. Bravo. 

And the small ensemble works take that same down-to-earth idea of the voice in the ensemble and expand upon it, with some more intricate ensemble interactions by all with a goodly vocalization idea and lots of good instrumental parts. So I end up quite impressed with that too--"For Pte Tokabewin Ska" (2015) with text by Native American Charlotte Black Elk. And then the climax of it all, there is the title work "The Redness of Blood" (1994-95) and its full 26 minute unfolding. with five instrumentalists and simultaneous vocal parts in addition, and then another three vocalists. It is complicated and rewarding to hear, with a pronounced Native American feeling at times. It is very good listening as is the whole of this.

New World Records continues to offer an exemplary program of Modern Americana and this is a great example of how it works. Kitzke is it turns out an essential voice and this then is essential fare. It is born out of expressive need more so than a sort of formalist rigor. It works and it works very well indeed. Highly recommended.

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