Sign of the Times

Thomas Buckner

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Sign of the Times Review

by "Blue" Gene Tyranny

These five vocal works, especially commissioned for this album, deal with contemporary social and spiritual concerns. They are sung with great feeling and textual empathy by renowned avant-garde specialist baritone Thomas Buckner, accompanied by Stefani Starin on flute, alto flute and khaen; Jon Gibson on soprano saxophone; Leroy Jenkins, viola; Joseph Kubera, piano; and Bill Ruyle, percussion. Jon Gibson's Running Commentary (Arbitrary Excerpts) consists of words and phrases gathered in a capricious fashion. The Angle of Repose, by Annea Lockwood, is an evening song that incorporates an Ojibwa text. Leroy Jenkins' Dream of Dreams of Home, featuring a text by Ann T. Greene, describes the anguish of being homeless. The Panther, by Brian Smith, sets a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. Robert Ashley's The Producer Speaks tells the story of two great American jazz pianists touring in France, as told from the producer's point of view. Buckner delivers each text with exquisite diction, skillful musicianship, and a sense of committment to the meaning and emotional presence of each piece.

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