Carl Maguire has a theorem on acoustic or electric piano that is hard to define, and even more elusive to determine in regards to his influences. On the other hand, he's very articulate in stating his purpose in regards to Floriculture within parameters that keep him ultimately interested. He sites sounds that are magnified and stretched, unpredictable for sure, and engages ideas that blur clarity. Succeeding on many levels, this quintet of progressive jazz musicians might be influenced by the angular and death-defying string ensemble experiments of Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill, or guitarist Michael Gregory Jackson's works with Marty Ehrlich. No matter the inspiration, Maguire is playing distinctly original new music, where spiky high-octave accents divebomb pithy, earthy clarinet and rhythmic devices. Stephanie Griffin plays the viola exclusively on this date, and she is a precious gem of harmonic discourse or melodic invention. With Oscar Noriega manning the multi-woodwind chair, Maguire has much to employ from a color standpoint, but his front liners have struck a viable accord in sonic partnership that is both arresting and, in many instances, haunting. Sided Silver Solid is easily as intriguing an album title as the music you will hear, but the challenge is to listen to the extended compositions with much patience as they unfold in strange and beautiful ways. "Modern Enunciator" is a piece based on tangents that skitter around the eardrums, with piano accents and bass punctuations from John Hebert, as Griffin and Noriega's clarinets produce high drama in hushed tones. The all-encompassing and enveloping 17-plus-minute "Sensation Whereby Space" starts in a serene mood and gets heavier, not busier, perhaps more somber and diffuse, then improvised, schizoid, ending with a drum solo from Dan Weiss and a beat-oriented coda. While not as developed, "Sex Cog" has Maguire's closely wrapped piano sneaking around in the dark, with shards of dim light via Griffin and Hebert providing at least a small amount of illumination in order to feel the way through pitch black. "Basic Botany" is a kind of improvised and composed combo technique, funky at its base with Noriega's ballsy bass clarinet and the Maguire's Fender Rhodes electric keyboard establishing a forum for Griffin's incredible viola to speak out in a new, boisterous language. Bookending the set, "Rope/Rim..." and "...Rope/Rim" contrast in harmonic squeaks and clattering percussion against Maguire's stair-step piano, finishing with a spatial, sine wave stream with deeper and shimmering Rhodes hues. During certain points in the recording, you can be absorbed by this music, surrounded by its opulence, but at others there's a sense that you are saturated with these innovative tones to the point where it can be either utterly fascinating, or somewhat disturbing. Maguire's publishing company, Subsoil, says a lot of this progressive aesthetic, based just underneath terra firma, but always reaching skyward. Floriculture certainly play provocative, groundbreaking music, something unlike any thing else that preceded them, and deserve attention in that they refuse to stand still or be static. Maguire's futuristic concept is one highly recommended to all creative music fans, with great promise for more to come.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos