New York-based clarinetist Jeremiah Cymerman works at the intersection of improvised, electroacoustic, and experimental music. His new and fifth solo album, «Citadels & Sanctuaries», is his «coming of age album», inspired by his 4oth birthday. The ten pieces are dedicated to composers that have played a vital role in Cymerman’ss musical development, all pay tribute to their idiosyncratic approaches, and all frame his inclusive musical universe that embraces free improvisation, contemporary music, experimental electronics, and Far-Eastern traditions. «I wanted to inhabit the sound worlds of these artists, participating with the music as a player like I have as a listener,» Cymerman explains. «Citadels & Sanctuaries» was recorded during a month-long residency at Brooklyn art space Pioneer Works in November 2020, and all its ten pieces were captured in a single take. These pieces are immediate meditations, most of them are surprisingly accessible, but he often dives into abrasive, dissonant and dark textures.
«Citadels & Sanctuaries» is opened with «From The Metaphysical to the Transcendental», a moving and meditative love letter to the Canadian clarinetist Bill Smith, who passed away last February, described by Cymerman as «the twentieth century’s greatest clarinetist, a true visionary, who re-invented the language of the clarinet». «Spheres of Humanity (For Alvin Lucier)» offers Cymerman playing with higher-pitched, dissonant and resonant tones and overtones while «The Absolute and Its Tearing (for Horațiu Rădulescu)» intensifies this vein with a repetitive layer of electronic noises.
«Broken Language (For Morton Feldman)» sketches a most beautiful, simple melody and corresponds with the following, minimalist and ethereal «Between Always and Forever (for Toru Takemitsu)» and «Knot of Breath (for Mario Diaz de Léon)». «For As Long As Grass Grows (for Tony Scott)» concludes this meditative section with emotional homage to Scott who recorded the iconic «Music for Zen Meditation» (Verve, 1964).
Cymerman and trumpeter Nate Wooley collaborated on a trio with Evan Parker in «World of Objects» (5049, 2014), and «With the Old Breed (for Nate Wooley)» is a bold attempt to capture the fearless, groundbreaking vision of Wooley. «Manifesto (for Iancu Dumitrescu)» continues to experiment with abstract texture, this time dedicated to the work of the Romanian composer, who like Rădulescu, is associated with the French composers of the spectral school.
«Citadels & Sanctuaries» concludes with gratitude to one of the heroes and a longtime friend of Cymerman, «Conscious Faith (For Evan Parker)», inspired by Parker’s «As The Wind» (psi, 2016), where he is joined by percussionists Mark Nauseef and Toma Gouband. This ritualist meditation honors Parker’s soprano sax multiphonics and harmonics and includes field recording from inside Paris’s Notre-Dame cathedral, several years before it was set ablaze. «Evan and I have talked at length about looking up towards something and making art that attempts to ascend to some kind of height,» says Cymerman.
«Citadels & Sanctuaries» expresses this noble aim in many impressive and inspiring ways.
Jeremiah Cymerman (cl, synth, elec, perc)