Various Authors 10:30 a.m., Jan. 16
Bert & Nancy Turetzky Release "Spirit Song"
Partners in music and marriage, contrabass pioneer Bertram Turetzky and his wife Nancy, a flute virtuoso in her own right, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2009.
The pairing of the huge doublebass with the dainty flute might conjure up a comical vision of unlikely association, and if they weren't both such serious musicians--this union might have just been a cute human interest story. Instead, it is a document of human achievement from two artists that just happen to be married to each other.
The Turetzky's recorded this album in celebration of that anniversary three years ago, but its release on Imaginary Chicago Records didn't happen until last month.
The album is called Spirit Song, and it is a powerful testimony to the idea of matching two instruments from opposite ends of the frequency spectrum.
Eight of the ten selections are naked duets between the Turetzky's. One tune adds guitarist Bob Boss and drummer Bob Weller, and another features the bass and flute improvising amongst a swirling menagerie of pre-recorded instruments.
Spirit Song is an intriguing combination of 20th Century classical music, jazz, free improvisation and, to open the disc, four sublime etudes from the pen of 14th Century composer Jacopo da Bologna.
"Four Madrigals" is the kind of astonishing music that only a pedigreed music historian like Turetzky could discover. The four short pieces are contemplative and full of intricate melodic give and take between the two instruments. At times, Turetzky's arco is so transparent that it sounds like two flutes are playing.
"Rain Spirit Passing" is thoroughly modern, featuring low rumbling quavers by the bass over pad-popping percussive effects by the flute. One instrument posits an idea as the other one answers it. Nancy Turetzky growls and utilizes a myriad of extended techniques to startling effect.
"Monk's Blues" (variations on themes by Thelonious Monk), begins and ends with Bert, alone, improvising in the spirit of the master. Boss lays down the theme from "Misterioso", while Nancy and Bob Weller layer "Blue Monk" on top. After a gorgeous bass flute statement, Boss weaves an imaginative blues tapestry as only a real "bluesician" can.
"Fracas" is aptly titled. It's a wicked 4-channel collage of instrumental mayhem, dedicated to the composer Henry Brandt, who once wrote a similar piece for a Turetzky ensemble.
Finally, "Spirit Song" is a meditative solo tour-de-force, with World Music overtones, and full of Turetzky's trademarked extended techniques. Spirit Song is a wellspring bubbling with the wisdom of experience and the joy of life. Recommended.