David Murray, Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell associate Ragin in a solo trumpet album of intense strategies that also pays tribute to Braxton, Miles and Leo Smith.
Label: Hopscotch Records
Catalog ID: Hop 13
Squidco Product Code: 11909
Packaging: Cardstock Gatefold Sleeve
Recorded and mastered by Assif Tsahar.
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1. For the Joy of Sound Space & Music 10:34
2. Parisian Sunrise 4:56
3. Rhythm Units #1 2:18
4. Rhythm Units #2 2:09
5. Rhythm Units #3 4:16
6. Rhythm Units #4 2:35
7. Rhythm Units #5 4:38
8. Rhythm Units #6 5:26
9. Rhythm Units #7 3:47
10. Rhythm Units #8 3:33
11. Rhythm Units #9 3:11
12. Ballad for Miles 4:27
13. Perpetual Motion 2:04
14. Braxton Dues 4:31
15. Emergency Exit 2:04
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"[...] Houston-born, Colorado-based Hugh Ragin, is a consummate trumpet technician, who has a Masters degree in classical trumpet performance. Besides teaching, he has also collaborated with musicians including reedists David Murray, Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell and recorded CDs ranging from bebop to out-and-out avant-garde. The 15 — not 16 as the cover sleeve notes — performances here showcase a variety of strategies for solo trumpet from short, rhythmic exercises to what could be called humanistic overdubbing.
[...] Ragin pays tribute to one influence, Miles Davis, on "Ballad for Miles"; one colleague, with "Braxton Dues"; and one teacher/associate with Wadada Leo Smith's "Rhythm Unit #1 to #9". Each of these tunes emphasizes a different facet of extended trumpet technique.
The most interesting pieces, however, are two of the longest, which touch on some reductionist techniques. "Rhythm Unit #5", for instance, centres around constantly repeated grace notes that fluctuate up the scale. Growls and peeps arise from within the bell followed by a melody that moves from allegro to adagio, finally expanding from chromatic trills into loud, sharp, pinpointed whole notes. "Rhythm Unit #4", on the other hand, features a wavering tone, staccato triple tonguing and broken high notes, which — perhaps following Ragin's legit training — continue in a straight line rather than turning chaotic.
"Braxton Dues" actually sounds like Braxton's improvising, albeit transferred onto a trumpet, utilizing a collection of grace notes expelled chromatically in standard time. The Davis tribute replicates Miles' echoing Harmon mute sounds with extra accompaniment from an overdubbed trumpet choir made up of Ragin clones that is evidently playing earlier versions of what Ragin is improvising upfront. All this does sound a little folksier than what urbanite Davis would try though. "Parisian Sunrise" is a more flavorsome ballad, put together chromatically and adagio. A feeling of melancholy pervades the composition as the trumpeter modulates down the scale, using many pre-modern held notes. Even the reverberating end uses natural trumpet tones.
Exhibiting studio technology, "For The Joy of Space & Music" is alternately gimmicky and impressive. At nearly 10½-minutes, it goes on a bit too long. With sonorities moving in and out from what appear to be five overdubbed trumpets, each grace note is picked up by the next cloned instrumentalist until the burnish is scraped out of the horn's finish. Some tones are direct, others distant, and for a time it sounds as if the tune is a film, projected in-and-out of focus. While there's more invertible counterpoint than the regular kind on tap and Ragin uses mouthpiece kisses, heraldic tones and deep breaths to his advantage here — and whinnying tones, growls and shrill suspensions elsewhere — his playing would never be confused with either of the trumpeters from URA. Instead it's another way to expand the definition of that familiar brass instrument. [...]"-Ken Waxman, Jazzword
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