«Ekphrasis Suite» is the second recording of Argentinian-American composer, soprano sax player, scholar and educator Andrew Raffo Dewar, a disciple of Anthony Braxton (and a student of Steve Lacy), for the San Francisco quartet of percussionist Gino Robair, oboe and English horn player Kyle Bruckmann and guitarist John Shiurba. This quartet has been working together since 2009 and released its debut album «Interactions Quartet» in 2014 (on Robair’s label, Rastascan). This quartet has its East coast version featuring guitarist Mary Halvorson, violist Jessica Pavone and percussionist Aaron Siegel.
This «Ekphrasis Suite» was inspired by four drawings by visual artist Pete Schulte (depicted on the cover) and was recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California, in November 2014. The suite focuses on exploring the translation from the visual to the aural, extrapolating from the austere structures of Schulte’s visual compositions. Dewar created four musical forms that reflect and refract these visual structures in Schulte’s work, embodying the Greek term «Ekphrasis», or the description of one art medium with another. As on previous works of Dewar, «Ekphrasis Suite» stresses his concept of space or the structural use of space as integral to a music’s form, akin to the Japanese concept of Ma (間), referring to the artistic interpretation of empty(or negative) space, often having as much importance as the rest of the artwork.
«Ekphrasis Suite» suggests minimalist and delicate chamber contemporary music, emphasizing the profound, collective dynamics of this quartet. The four movements offer an array of irrational rhythmic relationships and inquisitive, extended breathing and percussive techniques. All patiently color the austere visual structures of Schulte with haunting spacious and ethereal soundscapes.
Andrew Raffo Dewar (ss), Gino Robair (perc, vib), Kyle Bruckmann (obo, English horn), John Shiurba (aco.g, el.g)