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På skive



#entrainments is a triumphant musical statement of New York-based double bass master, composer and founder of the Infrequent Seams label James Ilgenfritz, reflecting the process of reconstructing his cognitive abilities after undergoing brain surgery and his ongoing struggles with word recall and disfluent speech. It also happens to be the 50th release of the Infrequent Seams label.

#entrainments was recorded just a few months after Ilgenfritz’s surgery at the Loft club in Köln in 2017. The album presents Ilgenfritz’s modular improvisation system for a chamber quartet, paralleling Anthony Braxton’s «coordinate music» and «Ghost Trance Music» musical systems (Ilgenfritz’s first album for his label was solo double bass interpretations of Braxton’s compositions, Compositions (Braxton) 2011, 2012). The album features Ilgenfritz on double bass, Köln-based Polish alto sax player Angelika Niescier and American cellist Nathan Bontrager, and American, Luzern-based master drummer and mentor Gerry Hemingway.

Ilgenfritz’s cues for the quartet enable real-time restructuring of the composed materials and improvisation strategies in a live performance and in order to consider new relationships between form and content, structure and intuition. Melodies may appear primarily as supportive material, while the ‘metadata’ of creative expression may become the focal point. The titles of the six-movement #entrainments are presented as hashtags, highlighting the indexical and interchangeable aspects of the system.

Ilgenfritz is well-versed with the innovative conduction practices associated with Lawrence D. «Butch» Morris, John Zorn, and the focus on mindfulness presented by Pauline Oliveros’s Sonic Meditations and Deep Listening practices. #entrainments navigate freely and organically throughout the history of American and European contemporary and improvised music, including the AACM school, and is also inspired by conceptual art and literature worlds associated with Fluxus, Marcel Duchamp, Lorna Simpson, David Hammons, Charles Gaines, Anne Waldman, William Burroughs, and William Kentridge.

The music flows naturally and is playful and sometimes also swinging and at other times even very emotional, especially on the touching «#saladdays» or clearly joyful as the concluding movement «#dungeonmaster», and, obviously, is highly personal. It is performed masterfully by the quartet and suggests many intriguing, poetic and insightful wonders about the continuous interpenetration of structure, intuition, patience, and mindfulness within the #entrainments cycle of the modular improvisation system. And as Ilgenfritz notes in his liner notes, entrainment is about aligning one’s thinking and behavior within existing systems. The survival of the creative spirit and the survival of free will are in this way inextricably linked.

Eyal Hareuveni

James Ilgenfritz (b), Angelika Niescier (as), Nathan Bontrager (c), Gerry Hemingway (dr)

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