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Listening Post: Jane Ira Bloom with Bobby Previte; Music of the Eiffel Tower

Listening Post: Jane Ira Bloom with Bobby Previte; Music of the Eiffel Tower

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Jane Ira Bloom with Mark Helias and Bobby Previte ”Early Americans” (Outline, released next week) Here is the latest great record from a truly great jazz relationship that has been going on for many decades. Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom – one of the most distinctive players in all of jazz – has been playing with bassist Mark Helias since the 1970s. Her work with Western New York-bred drummer/composer Bobby Previte has produced phenomenal music since 2000. This is Bloom’s first trio record and it’s reminiscent in its magical use of musical space to some of the trio music recorded by various different configurations called The Jimmy Giuffre Three. Except for a magnificent, haunting solo soprano saxophone aria of Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere” (a Jane Ira Bloom specialty) all of the compositions are Bloom’s own. The interplay of the three musicians who know each other so well is on the level of some of the greatest intimate configurations in the history of jazz – the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Giuffre Threes of both the’50s and very early ’60s, the Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond, The long-standing “Standards Trio” of Keith Jarrett. Previte, especially, is an amazingly imaginative accompaniment to Bloom. But then he’s always been as much “percussionist” as drummer, ever since studying at UB with Jan Williams. Kenny Wheeler, the late Canadian/British trumpet player with the unique tone, is remembered in a tune called “Nearly.” We’re not told whom “Big Bill” is dedicated to (Broonzy?) but whoever it is, it’s the kind of insinuating, simple tune that can go through listeners’ heads for days. And what she, Previte and Helias do with it is marked by a thrilling unity of purpose that is like little else you’ll hear in jazz these days. Truth to tell it was never very common. One of the great jazz records of the year thus far. Four stars out of four. (Jeff Simon)

Classical New Music

Joseph Bertolozzi, “Tower Music: Musique de La Tour: Bertolozzi Plays the Eiffel Tower” (Innova) What you need to know, you’re told immediately on the jacket: “ ‘Tower Music’ uses only the sounds of the Eiffel Tower itself. No other instruments are heard on this album.” So you won’t find “either ambient, electronically processed” music “inclusive of traditional instruments or various combinations of those approaches.” It’s the result of recording 10,000 samples from the Eiffel Tower’s metal etc. surfaces and then whittling the number down to 2,800 for the final working set of sounds. It’s written music, not improvised and if you didn’t know where the sounds came from you’d hear a natural kinship with the tremendous “experimental” percussion music of the California school of American composers – Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell, John Cage and Harry Partch. You can call it “performance art” if you like and emphasize the music’s origins as one of the world’s greatest civic monuments but the music itself beautifully continues the tradition of percussion music created by some of the greatest 20th century experimentalists in American music (and the Javanese gamelan music which inspired them as well as Claude Debussy.) An 11-minute “audio tour” of the Eiffel Tower used a musician instruments brings the disc to a merrily eccentric close which is belied by the art of the music itself. Bertolozzi performs such works all over the world on bridges etc. A delightful musical figure. Three and a half stars out of four. (Jeff Simon)

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