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New on pfMENTUM: Bonnie Barnett's "In Between Dreams"

Image

"Imagine Cassandra Wilson on acid and you're on the right track." ( Deni Kasrel--Jazz Times )

Vocalist Bonnie Barnett's new disc on Jeff Kaiser's pfMENTUM label, In Between Dreams, released last month, is a startling example of how the voice can be used in free jazz contexts as an independent, virtuosic soloing instrument.

Barnett has been around the LA free scene for many years, and has worked with the heavy hitters, including multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia, who called her "one of Los Angeles' hidden treasures."

She has surrounded herself with deep company: on alto sax, flute and bass clarinet- Richard Wood, who teamed up with the masterful bass of Hal Onserud on his own recent pfMENTUM release, Not Far From Here around the same time as this was recorded. Barnett's choice for the drum chair is the remarkable Bay Area percussionist Garth Powell. Between them, Onserud and Powell have worked with pianist Cecil Taylor, guitar icon Nels Cline and trumpeter Bill Dixon, among many others.

This disc requires special attention. It's not "background" music, or casual listening by any measure. But, if you do listen carefully--you'll reap the rewards--because there isn't anyone else doing anything remotely similar in improvised music today.

Beginning with "Badinase", over the free growling flute of Wood, the bell-ringing and duck calling of Powell, Barnett sings/ speaks in a language of her own design. At times, she hoots, yelps and gargles her way into strange lines that zig-zag around the chaotic interplay of her associates. Gradually, Onserud's bass comes sawing in, and Wood switches to alto and unloads with an intense caterwaul that never manages to ruffle the feathers of Barnett. Once you get past the weirdness of hearing a singer improvising in this context, Barnett's approach becomes mesmerizing. Her deep contralto is as rich as Warren Buffet and three times as agile.

"In Between Dreams," kind of floats along on a dreamy flute-led rubato, offset by Powell's extremely creative cymbal washes and tinckling bells. As Wood fires up the alto, Onserud's pizzicato bass ratchets up the tension until it explodes with the singer's sputtering wordless improvisations.

"Matisse" begins with an orgiastic instrumental free-for-all, over which Barnett calmly intones the impossibly wordy and confusing text by Gertrude Stein which repeats and slowly alters many of the same words in an ever evolving collage of layered ideas.

They follow a similar tactic on "Nothingness," (text by Jean-Paul Sartre) except for the fact that the text itself is much more straightforward. Barnett's recitation is lush and implacable, which is amazing, given the degree of chaos bubbling behind her--Onserud's mad bowing, the keening bass-clarinet of Woods, and the tension of Powell's tic-tocking arsenal of percussive effects.

Her singing, no matter how unusual the manipulations become, is always clear, calm and on pitch. Likewise her narration clearly benefits from her weekly radio show "Trilogy," on KXLU. She could read the phone-book and make a story out of it.

Barnett has mastered a gaggle of "extended-techniques," and she can definitely hang with the best of them when it comes to "taking-it-out."

Find In Between Dreams by visiting pfmentum.com

Image of Bonnie Barnett from ninewinds.com

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“We decided to do everything with caution.”

Image

"Imagine Cassandra Wilson on acid and you're on the right track." ( Deni Kasrel--Jazz Times )

Vocalist Bonnie Barnett's new disc on Jeff Kaiser's pfMENTUM label, In Between Dreams, released last month, is a startling example of how the voice can be used in free jazz contexts as an independent, virtuosic soloing instrument.

Barnett has been around the LA free scene for many years, and has worked with the heavy hitters, including multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia, who called her "one of Los Angeles' hidden treasures."

She has surrounded herself with deep company: on alto sax, flute and bass clarinet- Richard Wood, who teamed up with the masterful bass of Hal Onserud on his own recent pfMENTUM release, Not Far From Here around the same time as this was recorded. Barnett's choice for the drum chair is the remarkable Bay Area percussionist Garth Powell. Between them, Onserud and Powell have worked with pianist Cecil Taylor, guitar icon Nels Cline and trumpeter Bill Dixon, among many others.

This disc requires special attention. It's not "background" music, or casual listening by any measure. But, if you do listen carefully--you'll reap the rewards--because there isn't anyone else doing anything remotely similar in improvised music today.

Beginning with "Badinase", over the free growling flute of Wood, the bell-ringing and duck calling of Powell, Barnett sings/ speaks in a language of her own design. At times, she hoots, yelps and gargles her way into strange lines that zig-zag around the chaotic interplay of her associates. Gradually, Onserud's bass comes sawing in, and Wood switches to alto and unloads with an intense caterwaul that never manages to ruffle the feathers of Barnett. Once you get past the weirdness of hearing a singer improvising in this context, Barnett's approach becomes mesmerizing. Her deep contralto is as rich as Warren Buffet and three times as agile.

"In Between Dreams," kind of floats along on a dreamy flute-led rubato, offset by Powell's extremely creative cymbal washes and tinckling bells. As Wood fires up the alto, Onserud's pizzicato bass ratchets up the tension until it explodes with the singer's sputtering wordless improvisations.

"Matisse" begins with an orgiastic instrumental free-for-all, over which Barnett calmly intones the impossibly wordy and confusing text by Gertrude Stein which repeats and slowly alters many of the same words in an ever evolving collage of layered ideas.

They follow a similar tactic on "Nothingness," (text by Jean-Paul Sartre) except for the fact that the text itself is much more straightforward. Barnett's recitation is lush and implacable, which is amazing, given the degree of chaos bubbling behind her--Onserud's mad bowing, the keening bass-clarinet of Woods, and the tension of Powell's tic-tocking arsenal of percussive effects.

Her singing, no matter how unusual the manipulations become, is always clear, calm and on pitch. Likewise her narration clearly benefits from her weekly radio show "Trilogy," on KXLU. She could read the phone-book and make a story out of it.

Barnett has mastered a gaggle of "extended-techniques," and she can definitely hang with the best of them when it comes to "taking-it-out."

Find In Between Dreams by visiting pfmentum.com

Image of Bonnie Barnett from ninewinds.com

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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