FAME Review: Scott Robinson / Frank Kimbrough - Afar
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Scott Robinson / Frank Kimbrough - Afar

Afar

Scott Robinson / Frank Kimbrough

ScienSonic Laboratories - SS04

Available from ScienSonic Laboratories

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com)

Scott Robinson is an unusual cat. He graduated from the Berklee College of Music in '81 and in '82 became it's youngest faculty member. The U.S. State Dept. named him 'Jazz Ambassador' in 2000, so he toured Louis Armstrong's music in West Africa in 2001. He's appeared on over 200 releases and has worked under Anthony Braxton, John Scofield, Elton John, Sting, the N.Y. City Opera, and many others. His ax is the sax but he's worked with such exotica as the sarrusophone, ophicleide, and contrabass saxophone as well, all saxophone variants, that last one a huge monster of an instrument so rare that only 20 working examples are known to exist on Earth (!!!). I've reviewed the guy in his Bronze Nemesis release (here), his work with Jack Mouse (here), Eric Jekabson (here), and Bill Cunliffe (here), and named Bronze among the 20 best of 2012. It still knocks my ears off. The guy's irrepressible.

He's also highly eclectic. I noted his love of Armstrong, but he's also as abstracted, surreal, and pointillistic as they come (hey, if Braxton chooses you as a sidekick, you needn't prove anything ever again), and Afar, which finds him teamed with pianist Frank Kimbrough, delivers nothing but out-there cuts sure to please the appetite of the discerning exotica connoisseur while confounding the brainpan of The Everyman. The entire CD is just the two and composed entirely of spontaneous improv (and I've no clue if this ilk of music could even be written, pre- or post-) in calls-and-responses, in-the-moment freak-outs, pensive incidentalism, and all the off-the-beaten-path sonics so damn hard to locate.

In that, if you dig Braxton (not just on his own but also in that classic LP with Teitelbaum and elsewhere…like Circle), Cage, the Chicago Art Ensemble, even the great unknown materials like Vangelis' Invisible Connections and Morphogenesis (esp. their unbelievable first release), Derek Bailey, and all the great noiseurs, then you're going to need an Ackroydian drool cup when you hear this one. Not for everyone, guaranteed, but if your wig is sufficiently loose, you'll flip out…in a surrealist existentialist Max Ernsty kinda way. Speaking of which, Robinson's an aficionado, as I am, of the great Richard Powers, whose futuristic-primitive canvases graced many an in-the-day sci-fi novel's cover (hell, I even located an old 2-volume set of his realist illos for Rudyard Kipling's work in the Redondo Library's sell section last week), so you might want to visit his web site even just to glom those old oil masterpieces once again.

Track List:

  • Vantage
  • Betwixt
  • Afar
  • lota
  • Vista
  • Hither
  • Wend
  • Advance
  • Thither
  • Jots
  • Whorl
  • Yon
  • Ilk
  • Celestria
  • Slapdash
  • Remove
  • Untoward
  • Solace
  • Whither
All songs…er, "written"…by Kimbrough & Robinson.

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
 
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