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Earl Howard: Clepton

Howard / Graewe / Reijseger
Release Date: 12/11/2007 
Label:  New World Records   Catalog #: 80670  
Composer:  Earl Howard
Performer:  Earl HowardGeorg GraeweErnst ReijsegerGerry Hemingway
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

HOWARD Clepton. Improvisation. Rosebud Earl Howard (syn); Georg Graewe (pn); Ernst Reijseger (vc); Gerry Hemingway (dr) NEW WORLD 80670 (59:03)

Earl Howard combines electronic and acoustic sounds in evolving forms that are partly composed, partly improvised. Each work follows a prearranged plan, but he trusts his capable colleagues to interpret and elaborate on his ideas, which they do with impressive virtuosity. Sometimes the skittering lines recall the free jazz experiments of yesteryear, but without that Read more style’s excesses: no squalling, shrieking saxophones or torrential “walls” of sound here. The music is far from dynamically monotonous, however; it’s just not angrily aggressive or unbearably loud. To the contrary, parts that require great facility are often played with a delicate touch, and slower episodes generate substantial atmosphere through careful attention to timbre and texture. The performers interact with telepathic intuition, quick to assess the implications of any germinating idea. The electronic presence is subtle and blends well with the “natural” timbres of piano, cello, and drums. Occasionally evoking science fiction films or other spacey environments, the synthesizer is also convincing when generating more earth-oriented sounds, mimicking marimba or steel drums. Without seeing the musicians at work, I’m not completely sure who’s playing what. For example, Gerry Hemingway is listed as a drummer, but in an orchestra percussionists also play the marimba. Whoever is responsible, I enjoyed the intelligent interplay and alert sound sculpting that characterizes each of the three works.

Clepton’s title simply adds a C to lepton, one of the many classes of elementary particles that populate the atomic world. Dan Warburton (author of the notes) opines that “Howard’s composition is as complex, mysterious, and poetic as the outer limits of the science he finds inspiration in, and the imagery of particle physics is particularly appropriate for the extraordinary interaction that takes place between the composer and his three playing partners throughout Clepton’s thirty-eight minutes.” Growth and development don’t follow historical processes, in which a theme is elaborated upon and presented in opposition to other contrasting themes, but rather move with fluid ease from one “state” to another as new musical “realities” arise. The result is not at all as forbidding as such a description might imply, but is quite likeable and sufficiently engrossing to sustain a listener’s attention. Improvisation takes a repeated piano motif as its fixed center around which various ideas accrue, and Rosebud ’s percussion and synthesizer weave a fine sonic tapestry out of multitudinous timbres and attentive dialogue. The performances are captured in excellent sound and convey a satisfying immediacy. Clepton was recorded live, as the appreciative applause at its end testifies. Recommended to anyone willing to try something different, or to those who already know they have a taste for similar excursions.

FANFARE: Robert Schulslaper
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Works on This Recording

Clepton by Earl Howard
Performer:  Earl Howard (Synthesizer), Georg Graewe (Piano), Ernst Reijseger (Cello),
Gerry Hemingway (Drums)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2006; USA 
Improvisation by Earl Howard
Performer:  Gerry Hemingway (Drums), Ernst Reijseger (Cello), Earl Howard (Synthesizer),
Georg Graewe (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Rosebud by Earl Howard
Performer:  Earl Howard (Synthesizer), Ernst Reijseger (Cello), Georg Graewe (Piano),
Gerry Hemingway (Drums)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 

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