It is, perhaps, wrong to talk about an artist charting new directions in his work after he has contributed to nearly 100 albums and countless performances over the course of a multi-decade career. Nevertheless, Gerry Hemingway's Chamber Works does mark a few firsts for the avant-garde jazz percussionist and composer. "Contigualis" is the first piece that he has composed for string quartet, and it sets the tone for an album that journeys closer to the 20th century classical idiom than any of his albums have traversed before. Almost never discordant or harsh, Hemingway allows each instrument to shine as a pure force -- even within the context of the quartet, the performers often have extended solos. The ensembles expand to quintets and sextets for the remaining pieces, with some of the most talented musicians from the realm of contemporary music making contributions. Violinist Sara Parkins is featured on every track and provides a clear lead. Joshua Gordon also provides the backbone for many songs on the cello. Hemingway himself makes an interesting contribution on sampler on the last track, "The Visiting Tank." His influence is felt throughout. This is an interesting album that makes for pleasant listening, yet contains the depth one expects of a musician with Hemingway's pedigree.
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AllMusic Review by Stacia Proefrock
|Contigualis, for string quartet|