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David Torn - Cloud About Mercury (1988) Retail CD
This is the album that got me into listening to Jazz in the first place. Having been brought up on guitar rock music such as Kiss & Neil Young, then graduating onto Rush and Yes, I was used to listening to the complexity of prog-rock. The free-wheeling improvisation of Jazz music and the lack of a verse/chorous/solo structure was completely alien to me back in 1988 when I first heard this album. What hooked me was the guitar work of David Torn, who sounds very unlike many guitarists you'll have ever heard. The tremolo arm on his guitar is constantly in use, so there's barely a note played 'more…straight' anywhere & almost no power chords either - its all picking & soloing. The nearest thing I can liken it to is how Yes guitarist Steve Hose plays throughout the album "Going for the One". Torn solos across the rhythym section; that is, he veers off away from what the bassist & drummer are playing in a way no rock-guitarist would, yet it is fascinating to listen to. In time, I learned to appreciate what was going on in the background & eventually 'tuned' my ears in to how jazz music sounds.He's backed up by Bill Bruford (drums - ex Yes & King Crimson); Mark Isham (trumpet - ex Wyndam Hill artist) and Tony Levin (bass - also ex King Crimson) - all three virtuosos with a good ear for what each other is doing. This means that despite Torn's oblique soloing, they are able to keep playing a wonderful groove that he eventually comes back into - particularly Bruford, who's so busy on this album that I get the impression he must be short of breath after every track (although being Bruford, I suspect he's not got a hair out of place). "Suyafhu Skin" and "Snapping the Hollow Reed" are beautiful and an easy introduction into the album, before the next 3 tracks go up-tempo and bring out some wonderful mayhem before slowing down again for the "Network of Sparks" pieces and a repriese of the opener called "Suyafhu Seal".Sadly (in my opinion) David Torn departed from Jazz music after this, coming out with an attempt at chart-friendliness called "Door X" which was notable for his poor liner notes & his singing (average, not since repeated), then heading off into full-on experimentalism with digital technology & computers, giving us "What Means Solid, Traveller" and "Tripping Over God". None of them sound like this album, but I guess all artists must be allowed to change. By 2000, I saw him in an interview describe himself as a "...composer/sonicist..." rather than as a guitarist. But still, this remains one of my favourite Jazz albums of all time & deserves to be better known. Rock guitarists in the mood for something a little different could do much worse than check this out. Solo albums by your favourite artists are one thing when they play the style of music you're used to, but if you want to hear Bruford & Levin crank out jazz music, then it's a delight. Mark Isham's solo albums are also worth checking out as well.
|1||Suyafhu Skin Snapping The Hollow Reed|
|3||Three Minutes Of Pure Entertainment|
|5||Network Of Sparks|
- David Torn - Cloud About Mercury (1988) Retail CD
- 1768 x 1396 px
- 567 KB
- 318 (0 today)
- 08/07/08 by pontiacc
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