Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Mystery of Compassion
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Listen to Samples
If it's got Tom Varner's name on it BUY IT.
Ian Muldoon | Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia | 03/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The greatest joy for me in music is replicating the joy of discovery first realised in childhood. That's the great joy of childhood - discovery. That flavour, that hiding place, the first kiss. In music we learn the language, the form, the cliches. Too often, we settle year in and year out for the cliches. Where there's a combination of discovery with the security of some predictability, we have delight. The genius of a Miles Davis rests a great deal on his relentless search for new ways to express himself. The listener has to give much more for artists such as Cecil Taylor, who don't have "cliche" in their musical vocabulary. But the longer and more intense the listening experience the greater the chance of appreciating Mr Taylor. At the same time there is much less likelihood of the wonder of discovery, or the " sound of surprise" in music generally. In Mr Varner the balance between feeling and intelligence and between security of known form and the wonder of discovery is realised in some of the most perfect ways.
Take one track on this CD: "$1000 Hat". An improvised New Orleans collective sound by the horns begins the piece and is followed by a tightly arranged chorus of the horns sans rhythm then a bass solo (roundly, richly caught by Engineer Bryce Goggin) interspersed by arranged voicings for the horns in unison, then a statement in reply by the horns as if in conversation. Silence. Bass enters much more strongly, striding, drums in conversation with bass, swinging chorus by the horns and the "race" is on. Repetition of horns, riffs, brilliant tenor solo over horns and rhythm, whilst they maintain the repetition of the motif. The horns begin to respond to the soloist in support of his flight. Drum solo, begins quietly, horns voicing a reply from time to time. Solo by french horn which is at once confident, thrilling, exultant, singing sometimes real low down sometimes high, sometimess percussive, reaching a climax and then a swift coda.
There is the feeling that when the writing is great, the musicians in top form, then there's chance the music will, so to speak, rise above itself. It does so on this CD. The programme of 10 pieces is a delight and varied enough to prove a constant listening pleasure over many years. This CD is a real treasure. I only regret is that I didn't discover it closer to the year it was recorded, 1992. After two years of Tom Varner's music I'm willing to say, if it has his name on it, buy it. I can say that about only a handful of artists."
Interesting but Ultimately Unsatisfying
A. Pisarenkov | Arlington, VA | 09/21/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Tom Varner is the sole proponent of the French horn as a viable jazz solo instrument. Supported here by two saxophones (Ed Jackson on alto and Rich Rosenberg on tenor) and a rhythm section which lacks a chordal instrument, he creates music which draws in equal measures on free jazz of the sixties, contemporary Knitting Factory sound and the swinging post-bop of Miles Davis's Second Quintet. Varner solos relatively little, preferring instead to make his artistic statement through writing and arrangements, but when he does solo, the sound of his horn, traditionally considered intractable in jazz, is awe-inspiring. Compositionally, I found the music - all of it written by Varner - less effective. Dense, dissonant and frequently very fragmented, it failed to speak to me and for the most part left me cold. It is obvious that Varner & Co. are trying to do something beyond just agitating their audience, but what it is has remained a mystery so far. Unique and unconventional - yes. Beautiful - scarcely."