ISSUE Project Room : an open and versatile environment in which established and emerging artists conduct, exhibit and perform new and site-specific work
About ISSUE Project Room
andrewcsmith on 03/14/2011 at 10:25AM
Bassist, composer and podcaster James Ilgenfritz plays a free show this coming Saturday as an ISSUE Artist-in-Residence (RSVP), playing the solo bass music of Anthony Braxton as well as premiering new work for a mixed chamber septet and playing in the jazz and African-influenced ensemble Billy Fox's Blackbirds and Bullets.
Trio Caveat (Ilgenfritz, saxophonist Jonathan Moritz & guitarist Chris Welcome) is a vehicle for semi-structured improvisation, where the members are closely attuned to one another. They function mostly on a single line, only occasionally breaking into polyphony. In this recording (live, from Ventura, California, in 2008) the trio seems to move from one timbral and textural area to another, and listen to each others' silence as much as to the notes they play.
Ilgenfritz's solo performances, a couple of which are included here, have a relationship to improvisation in a moment-to-moment sense, even if they end up with forms that eventually become apparent. This is an interesting effect, one that gets away from just "reading" a score (as if reading something out loud, from a textbook) and moves closer to storytelling—that is, moving along a structured and clear outline while filling in all the little details in such a way that keeps it interesting.
One of these, Binary Experiment for James Tenney by composer Jeff Treviño, takes a series of circular "mobiles" that the performer moves through, switching sections at strict time points (governed by a stopwatch). Originally for four contrabasses, Ilgenfritz plays it here in a later arrangement for overdubbed basses (in a live performance it includes prerecorded multitracking).
It's this range of work that seems so effortlessly interconnected that makes up much of Ilgenfritz's output. Next time—before his next Artist-in-Residence performance—we'll have a collection of his music for improvising small jazz ensembles in July.