James Falzone's Allos Musica

The Sign and the Thing Signified

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Since symbolism is a part of everyday life, and perception to some is more important than reality, there are those few who are able to translate the imagined into concrete. Clarinetist James Falzone and his improvising chamber sextet Allos Musica have taken symbols, whether real, imagined. or conjured, and have made music that transcends category, moving it into a unique realm. Using bassoon, viola, cello, and double bass, flavored by the sensitive percussion work of the fine Chicago musician Tim Mulvenna, a witty, piquant, and eminently listenable Falzone extrapolates on past traditions made utterly modern. There are two tour de force pieces on the date. A delicate, lighthouse/foggy ocean shore motif introduces "Akrasia," as alluring alternating peaceful, demonstrative, and spooky refrains weave through this most engaging music. A contemporary modal bass buoying dancing clarinet and viola, with a splash of funk and fun, identifies the hip "Tipping Point." There are three other short story-like parts bearing the album's title that echo the lighthouse image in long tones, and a few brief solo clarinet episodes from Falzone ranging from free jazz to dervish to love song. The outstanding composition "A Cord of Three Strands...Broken" combines the beauty of "the sign" with an exotic Mid-Eastern sensual dance, while up-and-down dynamic drama with a base of rhythm in 7/8 are the elements of "Ten Months," quite cartoonish in many instances and reminiscent of Raymond Scott's distinctive music. Also included in the variety of this project are an atonal exercise "Presser Le Pas," and a somber Baroque dirge "Dido's Lament." Though a bit short at about 41 minutes, this is a consistently intriguing date from Falzone and friends, and comes highly recommended.

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