2022, Music

Séances (2022) by Trevor Dunn’s Trio-Convulsant avec Folie à Quatre

I absolutely loved Sister Phantom Owl Fish when I first heard it when it came out, both because it was one of my first encounters with jazz that had metal influences (it might have been my first) and it was my first encounter with Mary Halvorson, and her extremely unique style of guitar playing. It was also the right time in my life.

So they’ve reunited nearly 20 years later, and this time there is a quartet, half string, half winds, featuring Carla Kihlstedt of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Rabbit Rabbit Radio, among others. The pairing gives their sound a bit of a makeover, since there were no strings (save his bass) or winds in the original, and since the original felt a little more freewheeling.

I’m not one to dwell on programmatic music, particularly. Dunn has written some notes about the inspiration and I’ve glanced at them but, as with most of this stuff, I don’t care. I prefer to just listen.
It’s certainly at the wilder end of chamber jazz. And part of the appeal is the pretty unique combination of instruments, that you won’t find too many other places.

Dunn’s compositions are the kinds of things that won’t always translates to other forms of jazz, at least in my opinion. But I can’t say I care particularly about that. With this type of jazz I’m much more into the performance part of it.

And I do like them. As I said, it’s a pretty unique combination of musicians, including one of the most unique guitar players of the 21st century. Halvorson is pretty restrained for the most part, but that restraint helps make most of it feel like full group performances.

I wonder how I would have felt about this 15 years ago, when I was just head over heels in love with chamber jazz. I do like this quite a bit, but it also reminds me of some of Zorn’s stuff. Maybe that’s not quite fair.

Enjoyable. Maybe I need a few more listens to really fully decide how I feel.


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