«The Complete Night» document a historic performance of the MacroQuarktet, a quartet of Downtown New York heavyweights – trumpeters Herb Robertson and Dave Ballou with the rhythm section of double bass player Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey, all collaborated before in many formats and outfits, at John Zorn’s performance space The Stone on June 30, 2007. Robertson and Ballou founded this quartet after the recording session for Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York’s «Undulation» (Polystar Jazz Library, 2006). Both thought that it was essential to play together in a smaller format that would allow them to explore their unique approaches to both improvisation and the their personal, extended techniques for the trumpet, employing an array of attachments, mutes, electric megaphone, and plastic hoses to expand their trumpets sonic capabilities. They also decided that as improvisers there was no need for pre-determined, composed material for this quartet.
«The Complete Night» brings the two sets the MacroQuarktet played on its first public performance at The Stone, with no rehearsal and no discussion about the direction of the music. The first disc captures the first set and is a reissue of «Each Part Whole» (Ruby Flower , 2009). The second disc is the second set, released for the first time, with Jon Rosenberg, who did the original recording, mixing, and mastering of the performance, remixed and remastered the recordings of the two sets but with no editing of the music.
Each set is a one long instant improvisation, and both are indexed into five parts for the listener’s convenience. These sets shift and are shape as rich, detailed, layered textures full of wild and some cerebral games, but also presenting abstract passages, and enough lyrical, gentle playing. Both sets stress the distinct and often eccentric personalities of Robertson and Ballou, both clearly enjoying their roles as talkative – literally, mad shamans of the secret sonic sciences of trumpets of all kinds and sizes. The highly creative and energetic rhythm section of Gress and Rainey adds more tension and colors to the urgent and restless yet nuanced interplay of the whole quartet, and quite often the rhythmic conception determines the textual course of these improvisations.
The short-lived MacroQuarktet played at The Stone as if it was a working band, and as a strong, organic outfit. It is hard to believe that this was the first ever performance ever of this collective. «The Complete Night» still sounds fresh and invigorating even today.
Dave Ballou (tp), Herb Robertson (tp), Drew Gress (b), Tom Rainey (dr)