In a trio collaboration with Jacob Wick on trumpet, Marc Riordan on piano and Frank Rosaly on drums, Tres Hongos demonstrates that improvised music from musicians, born within the last four decades, recalls as much from the past as it projects innovation and awareness of the present. The youthfulness of the musicians gives the music its rawness, its edge, its angularity, its penchant for sound examination as opposed to grandiloquent, lilting lyricism, for instance.
The inexorable amount of detailed expression that documents the energy that goes into maintaining restraint gives the music its edge. It is no mystery that muscle and breathing control are components of managing the non-explosive retention within the playing. No time is wasted to clarify that the trio is going to pull back and articulate no further than the tremolos or choruses that Wick repeats on his brass instrument or the notes Riordan plays mechanistically on the piano keys or the snare rolls, snaps, and cymbal hisses that Rosaly sculpts in the most high-tempo moments on the album. Volume is permitted, as in “Champagne Bayside;” but that does not mean that the overall sound steps out of the boundaries that were set from the very beginning.
This music is linked to the classical compositions of the last fifty years that includes that of John Cage, Morton Feldman, George Crumb and the Minimalists. Nonetheless, what is taken out of that music is naturally incorporated into a new process that allows the flow to happen rather than be irrevocably metered out.
The trio exhibits a sense of the passage of discrete units of time which intensifies the fact that no resonance contributes to the ongoing sonic unwinding. “God’s Girlfriend” is a prime example of the players’ complete introversion: trumpeter Wick plays his mouthpiece; Riordan interjects measurable silence between short chords or briefly rolled phrases; Rosaly barely touches the cymbal or the snare and any potential for ringing is damped and transformed quickly as he moves from place to place within the percussion spectrum.
The cover photo is called “Mojave Desert, California (Bottle of Piss)” from a series by Chicago photographer, Greg Stimac. That the members of the trio believe that this picture is simply a “strong stand-alone image” and lends no particular meaning to the music that is played on Tres Hongos testifies to the same kind of provocative character in the title: for the “bad” translation of the spanish ‘Tres Hongos’ is 'Three Fungi.’
If there is any meaning to be had, though, the subtitle speaks the loudest of all: ‘Where My Dreams Go to Die.’ The evanescence of dreams is similar to the evanescence of improvised music. Neither a dream nor the music ever dies; neither can be replicated and once experienced simply becomes a part of the omnipresent universe.
Track listing: Game Urge; God's Girlfriend; Champagne Bayside; Optimist; Franklin as Night.
copyright 2012 Lyn Horton