Friday, May 28, 2010

Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza - Azioni

I've had Giraffe Kingdom on an unofficial, temporary hiatus for a few months now to pursue some other projects - namely, finishing my last quarter at college and recording an ambient album. I should graduate within the first week of June (yay), and the album is so far sounding nicer than I imagined it would, though it still needs a lot of work. Needless to say I am beyond excited to eventually unleash it here.

That said, I've been sad to let GK languish (again), and it's about time I post something fresh and exciting. To that end, here are two disk's worth of some of the most far out music I've ever come across, that of the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza. This was a group of free improvisers formed in the mid 1960s, which was unique in that every player was an accomplished composer as well as performer. The band, founded by Franco Evangelisti, had an "open" lineup and went through several mutations. Before a concert, the current members would meet daily to practice and define the scope of their musical language; on stage, the only rules were to listen to each other intently.

All of the members of the Gruppo di Improvvisazione were high art composers, and their music can be heard partly as reactionary against two of the dominant schools of élite music in their time - 12-tone/serial compositions following Schoenberg, Berg, & Webern, and aleatoric (chance based) works following John Cage. Arguably, their music is nothing other than aleatoric music with no plan whatsoever, but this extremely crude description does nothing to give readers any understanding of how the band actually sounded. Unfortunately, no words that come to my mind can really do that. Shocking? Provocative? Alien? Primitive? Futurist? Timeless? Ugly? Beautiful? One thing's for sure: it ain't jazz.

This is absolutely essential listening for any fan of the notion of free improvisation, from lovers of Keith Jarrett's Koln Concert to Anthony Braxton's For Alto to Supersilent, 1 through 9.

Did I mention that Ennio Morricone was the group's trumpet player? That's right, the composer of some of the most memorable film music ever scored (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) found time on the side to play in one of the most radical, fringe, niche bands that ever existed. And he was amazing in that context, too - another reflection of his genius.

Happily, the DVD that comes with this box set, featuring precious footage of the Gruppo in its prime, has found its way to YouTube. Find yourself an absolutely free hour, strive to forget all conceptions you hold about sound and music, and watch these. You won't be quite the same after.!v=P1S6WsvfI6w&feature=related!v=QRuY0Q7KVzc&feature=related!v=aF8hqcLUf2Y&feature=related!v=wCFyyGeCCRo&feature=related

Track info:

Disk 1 personnel for all tracks:
Mario Bertoncini
Walter Branchi
Franco Evangelisti
John Heineman
Egisto Macchi
Ennio Morricone

1. "Kate" (7:09)
2. "Es War Einmal" (25:49)
3. Untitled (18:23)

Disk 2

1. "Fili" (14:02)
w/ Branchi, Bertoncini, Evangelisti, Heineman
2. "Concreto" (13:29)
w/ Branchi, Bertoncini, Evangelisti, Heineman
3. "A5-3" (8:01)
w/ Bertoncini, Evangelisti, Kayn, Heineman, Morricone, Vandor
4. "Trix 3" (prove concerto '67) (4:37)
w/ Heineman, Morricone, Vandor
5. "Fili 2" (prove concerto '67) (11:11)
w/ Branchi, Bertoncini, Evangelisti, Kayn
6. "A7" (7:04)
w/ Branchi, Bertoncini, Evangelisti, Heineman, Kayne, Morricone, Vandor
7. "A5-4" (prove concerto '67) (4:28)
w/ Bertoncini, Evangelisti, Heineman, Kayn, Morricone, Vandor
8. "A7-2" (prove concerto '67) (8:01)
w/ Branchi, Bertoncini, Evangelisti, Heineman, Kayn, Morricone, Vandor
9. "Trio" (10:44)
w/ Branchi, Heineman, Vandor

Download Disk 1
Download Disk 2
Purchase the 2 CD + DVD box set Azioni from die Schachtel and you'll also get a fascinating booklet containing interviews with Gruppo members, and a poster.

Can't thank Dory enough for this thrilling music.