Clockwise by Anna Webber Expounds Upon the Essence of Timbre


As her biography states, Canadian-born/Brooklyn-primarily based composer and multi-instrumentalist Anna Webber lives the overlap involving avant-garde jazz and new classical music. Certainly, the material presented on Clockwise, Webber’s most current record now accessible from Pi Recordings, exhibits this dynamic juxtaposition from a lot of fascinating angles, correctly blurring what line may perhaps exist involving these kindred genres, which are probably separated only by the prevalent rigidity of thesis and execution in the latter. 

Performed by a septet such as Webber on tenor saxophone and flutes, Jeremy Viner (tenor sax and clarinet), Jacob Garchik (trombone), Christopher Hoffman (cello), Matt Mitchell (piano), Chris Tordini (bass) and Ches Smith (percussion), Clockwise is an exploration and at occasions direct reimagining of performs in the contemporary classical canon that have been influential to Webber’s improvement as an artist. Webber’s finely crafted compositions are drawn from a focused study of key performs, especially for percussion, by a host of unchallenged 20th century masters such as Iannis Xenakis, Morton Feldman, Edgard Varése, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Milton Babbitt and John Cage. Webber’s interest lies in the examination of timbre (rather than pitch and harmony) as the dominant formal element and no matter whether or not a coherent piece can be arranged in the absence of these a lot more familiar, latter elements.

Anna Webber Septet--Photo by Liz Kosack

Anna Webber Septet–Photo by Liz Kosack

Whilst the meticulously conceived pieces that kind Webber’s Clockwise emerge from a purely timbral atmosphere or rhythmic pattern, there is a constant evolution pulled by way of every perform by a thread of harmonic and pitch-driven material. It appears clear that Webber’s intention is not to develop a tonal vacuum in reaction to the pitchless pieces she is examining, and in every case (aside from a handful of shorter interludes) the arc she is navigating establishes a model of contrast that starts with 1 notion and concludes with the other.

Enough area is provided in a lot of situations for every of Webber’s talented personnel (herself integrated) to solo and improvise, unfolding into periods that recall a varying jazz-centric paradigm reminiscent of Herbie Hancock, Charlie Haden, Cecil Taylor, Billy Cobham and other people, all superimposed upon the pervasive specter of the aforementioned classical titans.

Clockwise’s opening and closing tracks, Korē II and Korē I respectively, are inspired by Xenakis’ percussion masterpiece Persephassa and present a compelling analog to this perform, mimicking Xenakis’ stark and primal structures with percussive extended strategies in the winds and strings. Idiom II moves a lot more in the path of a John McLaughlin/Mahavishnu Orchestra vibe, and is in reality the only composition on the record without having a direct parallel to a further current perform, drawing alternatively from Webber’s personal improvisational language.

King of Denmark I/Loper initially removes the listener to a sparkling nebula of timbral ether, and then picks up exactly where Idiom II seemed to leave off, with a pesante sequence of chords that look to rise continually along a harmonic ladder to an unstable precipice. The very first section of this piece, along with its companions, King of Denmark II and III are informed by Morton Feldman’s graphic composition of the exact same name, though Loper draws components from Ionisation by Varèse.  

Anna Webber--Photo by Evan Shay

Anna Webber–Photo by Evan Shay

King of Denmark II requires shape as an atmospheric interlude of rumbling membranes, slicing bowed cymbals and droning crystalline tones housed inside a lengthy crescendo. The peak of the crescendo opens like a door into the spacious planet of the titular track, Clockwise, which is inspired by Stockhausen’s Zyklus. Clockwise starts with an extended, virtuosic flute solo spread out more than a fragmented bass line that unfolds like slow-motion bebop. The cadential spiral of Loper reprises, ensconced in an effervescent, pointillistic sonority thoughtfully establishing the groundwork for the following track, Array, which travels along a equivalent arc from spacious staccato to a beefy conclusion featuring the complete ensemble.

The two following interludes additional illustrate the arc of Webber’s stylistic pendulum. Swinging from the improvisatory avant-jazz character of the tenor sax on Hologram Most effective and the spectral, metallic glistening of King of Denmark III, the listener is guided lastly to Korē I, which closes the circle (or probably completes a revolution about the titular clock face) with a clear reprise of the overarching timbre-in-the-location-of-harmony notion.

The query posed in the liner notes as to no matter whether or not a piece can be constructed without having pitch or harmony and, if so, what tends to make it coherent is frequently clouded by the luscious and fascinating harmonic and melodic content material woven all through Clockwise. It is of course only by implication that the listener may assume Webber’s intention is to answer this query by way of the synthesis of these performs. Alternatively, what she may perhaps be performing is illustrating these possibilities employing music to restate the query in an abstract way. Most frequently, it does really feel as although Webber’s stance opposes the nebulous austerity of pure timbre as she appears to resolve every piece or point every interlude from percussive entropy toward fertile, harmonic landscapes rife with improvisation more than complicated modifications. Either way, Webber has crafted an enchanting cycle of compositions, worthy of repeated listening and evaluation, and the assured discovery of a lot of embedded truths.


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