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Spontaneous Composition - Spontaneous Composition


Chicago Tribune

As the title suggests, reedman Rich Corpolongo, bassist Doug Lofstrom and percussionist Paul Wertico have produced a series of truly spontaneous performances in which risk-taking is the norm and success is almost constant. Whether or not the mood-setting titles ("Bird Dirge", "Flutter-Wings" and so forth) came before or after the recording date, each piece is a coherent emotional drama - free in purely musical terms yet otherwise tightly focused. On alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet and flute, Corpolongo's transcendental virtuosity has a paradoxical effect, for within the music's intense expressivity, there is an abstract coolness - as though one were listening to a cross between Roscoe Mitchell and Lennie Neihaus. The blend is intriguing and so is the entire album.


Electronics play a major part in defining the textures of Spontaneous Composition by Illinois' Rich Corpolongo (as, ss, cl, b cl, fl, picc, elec), Doug Lofstrom (b, bam fl, perc, vcl) and Paul Wertico (d, perc, elec). At their best, the electronically treated passages have a weighty, dark and cavernous sound. The first flute section of "Flutter-Wings" has some predictable echoplex rhythms and harmonies; but the denser effects, beefing up the sound of a single horn, letting its echo blend seemlessly with an arco bass line, are well-developed and sensitively deployed. (Bassist Lofstrom is especially adept at dovetailing with a treated horn; he can sound electronic without devices.) The way relatively straight ahead freebop blowing emerges out of the spooky electronic muddle on "No Survivors", only to slip back toward the mire, is quite effective. On the circusy march "Schnatskis", treated clarinet sounds like a sick accordian. The trio doesn't hide behind effect boxes to mask inferior playing; most of the cuts are acoustic. "1 & 2" features akilter soprano over a Braxtonian stop-gap rhythm. "Bird Dirge" is a free clarinet blues, into which Rich tosses a pick-up-your-ears Gershwin glissando. Drummer Wertico has a good sense of color; his unorthodox percussion kit includes kitchen hardware.

Illinois Entertainer

This album, produced in Chicago by three highly respected local musicians, is as it sounds - spontaneous music created in single takes without charts. All three musicians are multi-instrumentalists: drummer Wertico plays a variety of exotically named percussion devices; bassist Lofstrom doubles on bamboo flute and percussion and adds vocals effects; and reedman Corpolongo is featured on alto and soprano sax, clarinet and bass clarinet, flute, alto flute and piccolo, expanding their capabilities with an Echoplex and Maestro Woodwind Sound System. The album has a hauntingly ethereal feeling; it carries you out just to the point of seeming to wisp away altogether, until Corpolongo grounds the uncertainty with willowy reeds. Spontaneous Composition is an interesting work from musicians who are accomplished in several different styles. It opens questions about what this trio could do as an accompaniment to modern dance.

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