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    Google is a useful tool in the topical unpacking of Uncompahgre, an improvised conclave between cornetist Kirk Knuffke and clarinetist Ben Goldberg that makes the absence of other instruments inconsequential and even preferred. The album title derives from the Ute phrase for “muddied water” and references a plateaued peak in the San Juan Mountains that is also the most elevated section of the Colorado River drainage basin. Geography and language aside, the instrumentation also directly recalls earlier tandem works by elders Bobby Bradford and John Carter without feeling at all beholden or derivative in design or execution.
    Genial informality and abundantly expressed camaraderie directly inform the fourteen short pieces, which range in duration from the five-minutes and change of “Granby” to the set closing miniature “Cortez” that occupies just fifty-four seconds. Brief spoken pleasantries between the players preface “Saguache” with breath sounds gulped and expelled punctuating the contours and concords of the conversation. “Basalt” contrasts with pursed reed whistles and brassy smears, combining in a stream of pitched deviations that skirt the edges of shrillness without crossing over into dissonance or disorder. The delicacy and deliberation in the designs reflects active and exacting listening on the part of the players such that the ensuing aerated sound sculptures almost seem to shape themselves.
    Extended techniques enter the exchanges on occasion as with Goldberg’s flittering funnels of overtones that splash and spill on “Blue River” and Knuffke’s muted metallics on “Leadville.” More commonly though the pair keeps the content free of abstraction and atomization with a shared gauge calibrated instead for sonorous give and take. Much of the repartee is expressive and lively with one player planting an idea and volleying it over to the other resulting in banter that is as much colloquial and terpsichorean. The rounded resonances of the cornet are a natural tonal match for the liquid timbre of Goldberg’s licorice stick. Qualified to an economical forty-two minutes, the pair still uncovers plenty to say to the degree that the congress all but mandates a sequel.
    Derek Taylor
    ... more
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1.
Saguache 04:32
2.
Basalt 03:09
3.
Blue River 04:11
4.
La Junta 02:52
5.
Ouray 02:31
6.
Gypsum 01:21
7.
Rocky Ford 04:34
8.
Leadville 02:59
9.
Granby 05:28
10.
De Beque 01:44
11.
Paonia 01:16
12.
Fairplay 02:04
13.
Carbondale 04:45
14.
Cortez 00:54

credits

released May 18, 2018

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Relative Pitch Records New York, New York

NYC-based independent record label specializing in avant-garde, free jazz, free improvisation, experimental.

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