Scott Rosenberg

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
Are (1996), 5.5/10
Bubble and Squeak (1997), 5.5/10
IE (1997), 6/10
Spotted Dick (1999), 5.5/10
Meet Me on the Gastral Plane (1999), 5.5/10
Anthony Braxton and Scott Rosenberg (2000), 5.5/10
One Liners (2000), 5/10
V - Solo Improvisations (2000), 6.5/10
Six Synaptics (2001), 5.5/10
Creative Orchestra Music (2001), 7/10
Owe (2001), 5/10
El (2001), 6.5/10
Toad in the Hole (2002), 6/10
Blood (2004), 5/10
Torcito (2004), 5.5/10
New Folk New Blues (2005), 6.5/10

Chicago-based saxophonist, flutist and clarinetist Scott Rosenberg (1972), a student of Anthony Braxton, has expanded the vocabulary of jazz music with a repertory of cacophonous sounds that show no respect for logic or rhythm. Belonging to the same generation of reed revolutionaries Greg Kelley, Bhob Rainey and Axel Dorner, Rosenberg has applied his anarchic techniques in different settings, ranging from free-form solos to chamber music, from big bands to orchestras.

Some Rosenberg large ensemble compositions already appeared on American Jungle Suite (june 1995 - Music and Arts, 1997), credited to the Creative Music Orchestra conducted by Marco Eneidi and Glenn Spearman.

Bubble and Squeak (june 1997 - Limited Sedition, 1998) and Spotted Dick (february 1999 - Limited Sedition, 1999) established his partnership with contrabassist Morgan Guberman, guitarist John Shiurba and percussionist Gino Robair.

IE (august 1997 - Barely Auditable, 1999) contains four more compositions for large ensemble (featuring Robair, Shiurba and Ingalls).

His solo work in the "creative" tradition is represented by: Meet Me on the Gastral Plane (march 1999 - Limited Sedition, 1999); Anthony Braxton & Scott Rosenberg Compositions/Improvisations (Barely Auditable, 2000), that includes Rosenberg interpretations of both his own pieces and some Braxton pieces; V - Solo Improvisations (may 2000 - Umbrella, 2001), on sopranino saxophone, contrabass clarinet and flute. The latter includes 21 brief pieces that explore the extreme endpoints of the "musical" range. Rosenberg uses no mathematical systems, and shows no interest in harmony: the sounds that fascinate him are the sounds that others abhor. Rosenberg's music harks back to the roots of instruments: they are vehicles to broadcast outside the movements and sounds internal to the human body. In his improvisations, he brings back the physical nature of the sounds produced by the instrument. His canon has to admit all possible sounds, no matter how bizarre, discordant and grotesque.

His collaborations include: Are (august 1996 - Super J, 1996), that compiles quartet and piano music, both improvised and composed (featuring Guberman, Ingalls, Robair and Mark Wyman on piano); One Liners (Barely Auditable, 2000), credited to Rosenberg, and One Liners (Limited Sedition, 2000), credited to Shiurba, both containing 99 short duets of reeds and guitar; Six Synaptics (may 2001 - Ertia, 2002), with synthesist Kyle Bruckmann and percussionist Michael Zerang.

Toad In The Hole (Limited Sedition, 2002), recorded in december 1999 with Shiurba, Robair, Ingalls and Guberman (the Skrontet), features 13 "jams" that range from four seconds to 13 minutes. They are extremely dissonant and incoherent. Bursts of collective noise alternate with minimal solos. The choice of harsh, unpleasant, jarring timbres seem to be deliberately provocative, as if to elicit maximum distress. Each instrument makes an effort to sound as unlike itself as possible, and as aloof from the others as possible.

Rosenberg also formed the Chicago-based quartet Red (tenor sax, bass, drums and Todd Margasak's cornet), that released Owe (march 2001 - Cadence, 2001). The Skronktet West that performs on El (april 2001 - Spool, 2003) is actually the usual quintet with Ingalls, Shiurba, Guberman and Robair. Tddk is mildly Braxton-ian in that it tries to create a pattern, a process, through minimalist repetition of blatantly unrestrained cacophony. Ditto for Thray, although the saxophone destroys the geometry that the other instruments had built (but sets the stage for a mournful clarinet theme).
Shrrr returns to Rosenberg's anarchic polyphony of extended techniques and illicit sounds. The 14-minute Sdppd + Prruer begins with unusual choral interplay, even evoking Frank Zappa's circus-like orchestral oddities, but soon decomposes and begins an adventurous journey towards an eerie form of counterpoint. While the instruments stick together for the entire time, never losing sight of each other, their language is still the primitive utterance of syllables, not words and certainly not sentences. Towards the end, melodies emerge, as if the quintet had just retraced the evolution of an organism.
Another Zappa-style choral fanfare launches Ellhg + Sttm, an unusually structured piece that ends with a festive and rocking rave-up.
This album is a spectacular document of an art straddling the border between tradition and insanity, rationality and randomness, semiotics and psychoanalysis, sense and nonsense.

Creative Orchestra Music - Chicago 2001 (march 2001 - New World, 2003) is another large-ensemble setting. The five compositions run the gamut from the dramatic, apocalyptic dissonance of Tehr (2000), reminiscent of Arnold Schoenberg's and Anton Webern's chamber music, although the tonal spectrum is calibrated towards another dimension; to the slow, requiem-like multi-drone gradually-ascending fanfare of Wash (1995), almost a send-up of Gorecki and Part. The haunting Forgetting Song (1997) sounds like a slow-motion nebula mechanically radiating alien frequencies, ghostly piano patterns, deformed echoes of human voices, and clusters of organic sounds. The program's centerpiece is the 18-minute Toys (1996), whose sounds are instead organized in an almost geometric fashion, resorting to minimalistic repetition and robotic counterpoint. His music for large ensembles is thus significantly different from the cacophonous and irrational solo improvisations, and shows great promise at the border between classical composition and jazz improvisation.

Blood (may 2004) for the Red quartet.

New Folk New Blues (482, 2005) is a quartet of improvisers (saxophonist Scott Rosenberg, keyboardist Jim Baker, bassist Anton Hatwich and percussionist Tim Daisy) that engages in four lenghty and reckless examples of collective improvisation. Sweating Vertebrae Superior Cathedrals is particularly virulent and nonlinear. Laugh Your Troubles Away matches its exuberance but channels it into more structured rhythmic paths. The chaotic 23 minutes of Good Morning Headache and the 20 minutes of Knives Swords Flags are the two tours de force, although one feels that they could have been edited a bit down. Baker changes keyboards all the time, and often steals the show from the energetic saxophonist.

The double-CD Torcito 30/12/2004 (2005) collects live improvisations of Scott Rosenberg's large ensemble and Arrington DeDionyso.

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