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Rothenberg, Wieczorek, and Jürjendal
Soo-Roo
Terra Nova Music (terranova@highlands.com)

The word experimental, when applied to music, has often come to mean just noisy. This is not the case with this fine release by clarinetist David Rothenberg, percussionist John Wieczorek, and guitarist Robert Jürjendal. While much of what is here has little in the way of a tonal center and sometimes stretches the limits of what these instruments normally do, it's all very listenable.

Bird song is a connecting thread in many of the tracks on this release. The underlying concept is to emulate musically what the marsh warbler (known as soo-roolind in Estonian) does. The bird migrates to Africa in the winter, learns the songs of African birds, and then takes them back to Northern Europe in the summer. By combining clarinet, Norwegian overtone flute, Bolivian whistle flute, tabla, udu and other instruments, the trio pulls the musical hemispheres together with delicate threads of sound. Informed by jazz, new age, and experimental genres, the music rises above the usual bashing together of cultures that plagues so much current world fusion. It's un-selfconscious and intelligently put together. While imitating bird song is certainly nothing new in music, Rothenberg, Wieczorek, and Jürjendal go beyond mere imitation and into treating the birdsong samples as a full musical partner. Their sound is less about virtuosic displays and more about craft, tone color, and expression. It is somewhat reminiscent of Oregon in its loose, pensive improvisation and spare spaciness. Their brand of experimentalism invokes more smiles than winces. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available from Amazon.com


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