We last read of trumpeter/flugelhornist Samantha (Sam) Boshnack in the review of B'shnorkestra's Go to Orange (here), a large ensemble effort whereas Exploding Syndrome is quintetual. No problems there at all, dear reader, as the stripped-down format gives us far more in terms of laying bare the strange and beguiling architectures the swiftly rising composer-player erects in varying shades of jazz, chamber, neoclassical, and pastoralique arbors. In that, in places, Boshnack has allowed herself to simul-synch, creating a one-woman multi-horn section bolstering her own lead work while elsewhere Beth Fleenor pairs up for contrast and harmony, especially when manning (womaning?) the bass clarinet, an instrument not heard enough in jazz or chamber musics.
Dawn Clement forms an intro trio with the bass and drums to carry a serially variant extension of thematics in the third movement of Suite for Seattle's Royal Court, which opens up and then trades off in trio/quintet format, Clement angularizing matters in an elaborate aside, horns singing chorus until splitting off into a clarinet solo commencing in flute-like tones before klezmerizing. Bass and drums sneak back in, erecting their former partnership with Clement before each solos, a complicated set of spotlights abstractly rendered.
The Mahlerian lead-in to Xi broadens the classicalist plain horizontally while sundry adjuncts build subtly up vertically. In fact, everywhere in this release, one encounters nothing but a constant interplay between progressivisms of, and smiling perversions upon, standard manneristic staples, now broken down to better serve nu-stylistic ends. Ahhhhhhhhhh, we so much need that! I mean, sure, all the American Songbook renditions delight and beguile, the swing revival is pleasing as punch (when-o-when will polka wake up and join in?), and straightahead is in a state of renewal, but such discs as Exploding Syndrome and such composers as Samantha Boshnack force new crenellations into the brain while taunting the amygdala and limbic systems. Great unit here, y'all. ECM should lately do so well, hm? And, hey, that bizarre and unsettling but wry vocalese Orc-speak by Fleenor in Exploding Syndrome? Way the hell too cool. More, please, next time out: Zappa's listening from the grave.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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