It starts with trépein, the ancient Greek verb "to turn." From there comes tropos, a change, and from there, our word "trope," a rhetorical figure which transforms simple enunciations into complex ones.
Or no it starts somewhere else entirely, in the elegantly simple, almost literary statement of the Second Law of Thermodynamics "entropy increases." Those two words provide the classical definition of time: a process of change from the ordered to the disordered, from simple stabilty to chaos.
We know where it ends up because those harsh slashing lines mark It clearly enough. It ends up with logos, truth, the Word of the Gospel of St John which was transformed, in the enlightenment, to that most enlightenment of principles, the Iight of pure and clear knowledge. "You've got an ology," Maureen Lipman croons, "That means you're a scientist." And she's right.
Yet how to bring these two â€" these three â€" together, as John Wolf Brennan has in the neologistic title of this wonderful trio session? Well, today, physicists see entropy as change, not disorder. In high entropy states, order can emerge, apparently quite spontaneously That's something which improvising musicians have understood tor a long time.
Not that high entropy should be mIstaken for hIgh energy. What these three play is not "energy music", although it has its moments ('Quickness' is straIght off the griddle â€" watch your fingers). Eddie Prévost, for one, has rarely had much interest In blasting out the windows. His drumming has always been best described as "percussion", a highly nuanced approach with enormous sensltivty to timbre and dynamics.
For those who don't know what a good jazz drummer he is, this disc will be a special treat. He has a dlsciplined and constantly shIfting approach wh;ch seems to exemplify the new science (or rather the ancient science of Entropology, the paradoxical pursuIt of change which produces something rational, yet something which is never the same twice. Check out that brushwork on "A Talk on the Wild Side", Max Roach's legacy clearly audible but metamorphosed â€" entroped, as the more archaIc dictionaries have it â€" into something all hls own.
If Simon PIcard isn't a name you know yet, then by the time this dIsc has played its course you're not likely to forget It in a hurry. He's a controlled, delicate player with a lovety line in melodies, but he's not scared of the slurred, even growling articulations favoured by louder brasher tenor players.
Picard's very organrc embracIng of these approaches give hIs Iines a liquidity which transcends both note-spinning and bar-walking. Yet there it is again, that principle of multiplicity, of continual change, yielding not uncertainty but surprisIng order. Listen to him slowly rise from the ground and then sInk bac down again on "Mr Vertigo", it's pure magic.
Brennan's approach could hardly be summed up better than by ltalo Calvino's unfinished "Six Memos tor the Next Millennium". It was where, close to the end of hIs life, Calvino set down most passionately both hIs vanguardism and his utter rejection of literary trendiness, the overweening pursuit of novelty. If Calvino loved Lucretius and Ovid, he also loved Perec, and tor the same reasons. Their commitment was to style as a vehicle for exploring the world, for makng the familiar strange with an elegance and apparent simp'icity which belies their hard-won craft.
Brennan has somethIng of Calvino about him, for certaIn. HIs playing has at times been quite traditional, even embracing folk music, yet he's never far from the avant garde. Here it's a pleasure to hear hIm in an all improvised, all -free sessIon simply for the focus it gives him. He's well known for his composltions, quIte rightly, but his thoughful, never obtrusive improvising is a pleasure, too .
Here you can hear him playing fairly straight, as on the opening "Liquid Vision", his carefully-placed chording playing an equal role to Picard's eloquent horn from the start. Or you can hear hIm on prepared piano, which is always a treat. There's an art to preparing a piano; if you just shove some objects under the strings, the results can get pretty ugly. Brennan, needless to say, has the knack, as he demonstrates on, among others, the restlessly ffloating "Trill Thrill" (where he also plays inside the piano). You can also it you crank up the volume, catch the subtle, just-audible electronics on 'Visibility".
ltalo Calvino's ideals, though, are expressed by all three musicians on this disc. Their lightness of touch sets it apart from many sax-piano-drum sets which go for barnsorming heaviness. It makes them agile and nimble, able to make their statements with precision. Dancing like Pucks, theyre as weightless and deft as late-night conversation. And "consistency", the subject of the lecture Calvino never wrote, is here in the avoIdance of tricks or novelties tor the sake of variety. This trlo assumes you, the listener, will be patient and give them your time.
These are all easy enough to hear, the qualities of "visibility" and "multiplicity" are trickier. By "visibility" Calvino means the use of striking visual Imagery. In musicaI terms, where such imagery rarely works, this trio seem instinctively to transtorm It into somethIng like "vividness". Their sound-world is a distinctive, beauful one and, If one may use such a word of music at all, a very colourful one.
Something similar happens with "multiplicity". too: Brennan is an eclectic, but on this session hIs playing eshews multi-stylism In favour of a multiplicity of densities, colours, gestural procedures, seml-tonalities, polytonalities, walking bass Iines and great crashIng and clashing clusters. Picard and Prévost take a similar approach; mutliplicity within consIstency, change within stability, entropy and logos."-Richard Cochrane, London September 1999
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1. Liquid Vision 2:32
2. Mr Vertigo 6:17
3. Trill Thrill: New Vibrations For An Old Galaxy 7:11
4. A Certain Surprising Intimacy 7:30
5. A Talk On The Wild Side 7:25
6. The Science Of Sonic Poetry 11:00
Six Memos For The New Millennium 26:36
7. Lightness 1:01
8. Quickness 8:12
9. Exactitude 4:23
10. Visibility 3:21
Electronics - John Wolf Brennan
11. Multiplicity 6:51
12. Consistency Coda 2:52