Tin Hat Trio
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Memory Is An Elephant , 7/10
Helium , 6.5/10
Rodeo Eroded , 4/10
Carla KihlStedt: 2 Foot Yard (2003), 6.5/10
Book Of Silk (2004), 6/10
The Sad Machinery Of Spring (2007), 6/10
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The Tin Hat Trio, three classically-educated New York musicians (Rob Burger on accordion, Carla Kihlstedt on violin and Mark Orton on guitar), moved to San Francisco in 1995. Their debut album, Memory Is An Elephant (Angel, 1999), mixes jazz, folk, avantgarde and world-music. Their art inhabits a world where tango master Astor Piazzolla plays with the comically old-fashioned Penguin Cafè Orchestra (Fire Of Ada). and the jazzy Lounge Lizards improvise with folk musicians (Foreign Legion, The Quick Marble Tremble), and music-hall entertainers duet with with Stephane Grappelly (Big Top), and classical composer Bela Bartok writes sonatas for drunk gypsies (Lambrackroar), and bossanova king Antonio Jobim joins a new-wave combo (The Quick Marble Tremble), and modernist composer Charles Ives toys with Balkan folk songs (UC Irvine UC Davis). The fusion of populist and austere attitudes is best represented by Waltz Of The Skyscraper and Thinuette, two stately dances with countless subtle variations that explore a broad range of textures and tactics.

Where Memory was playful and tuneful, Helium (Angel, 2000) is artful and cerebral. Gone is the mad tango influence, replaced by convoluted jazzy gestures (Helium, also offered in a vocal and orchestral version, Helium Reprise), quasi-dissonant jamming (Beverly's March), pseudo-Balkan frenzy (Fountain Of Youth), atonal lounge melodies (Seamstress Extraordinaire). Even their takes on sleepy blues (Sand Dog Blues, Width Of The World) and exotic easy-listening muzak (Esperanto, Brennero), that superficially look innocent divertissments, hide sophisticated harmonic games. The music of these pieces is more abstract and artificial than the one on the first album, abruptly alienated from their folk roots and instead steeped in the progressive-rock tradition of Henry Cow and Frank Zappa.

Carla KihlStedt also plays in Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and released the solo 2 Foot Yard (Tzadik, 2003), a trio with cellist Marika Hughes and percussionist Shahzad Ismaily playing sophisticated chamber vignettes. In 2011 Carla Kihlstedt premiered Necessary Monsters, a song cycle based on Jorge Luis Borges' "Book of Imaginary Beings".

Rodeo Eroded (Ropeadope, 2002) is far less exciting than the previous Tin Hat Trio albums. Despite a few distinguished guests, very few numbers (Holiday Joel) stand out.

The Tin Hat Trio returned to form with Book Of Silk (Ropeadope, 2004). Rob Burger (accordion, piano), Carla Kihlstedt (violin) and Mark Orton (guitar) organize the otherworldly polyphony of acoustic instruments (notably Zeena Parkins' harp and Bryan Smith's tuba) into intimations of metaphysical languor (Lauren's Lullaby, Empire of Light, Pablo Looks Back, The Longest Night, Things That Might Have Been), interrupted by childish and festive acts (The Clandestine Adventures of Ms Merz, Same Shirt Different Day, Hotel Aurora) and obscured by momentary turbulence (Elliott Carter Family, Light Black from Pole to Pole). Straddling the border between classical and folk music like the Penguin Cafè Orchestra used to, the Trio rediscovers the universal magic and beauty that unites the elite and the people.

Kihlstedt also played her violin on the only album credited to the Redressers, To Each According (2004), with drummer Ches Smith (Xiu Xiu), bassist Devin Hoff and celloist Marika Hughes.

Rob Burger the Tin Hat Trio quit before the release of The Sad Machinery Of Spring (Ryko, 2007), which is credited only to Tin Hat (no "Trio") given that the founding duo of Carla Kihlstedt (violin) and Mark Orton (guitar) had expanded the line-up to a quintet with harpist Zeena Parkins, multi-instrumentalist Ara Anderson and clarinetist Ben Goldberg. 15 expressionistic vignettes were closer in spirit to the neoclassical jazzy instrumental music of Art Zoyd and Univers Zero, except that the Tin Hat ensemble did not quite have the guts to attempt more ambitious structures. Janissary Band, a sort of march for celeste and trumpet, and Dionysius, a sort of bolero a` la Ravel, actually give expressionism a childish face.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Giuseppe Bonafede)

 

I Tin Hat Trio sono un ensemble newyorchese  di educazione classica (Rob  Burger alla fisarmonica, Carla KihlStedt al violino e Mark Orton alla chitarra) trasferitasi a San Francisco nel 1995. Il loro album di debutto Memory Is An Elephant (Angel, 1999) mischia jazz, folk,avanguardia e world music. La loro arte popola un mondo in cui  il maestro del tango Astor Piazola suona con la comicità d'altri tempi dei Penguin Cafè Orchestra (Fire Of Ada) , e i chiassosi Lounge Lizard improvvisano con musicisti folk (Foreign Legion, The Quick Marble Tremble),dove intrattenitori da music-hall duettano con Stephane Grappelly(Big Top)e  il compositore classico Bela Bartok scrive sonate per zingari ubriachi (Lambrackroar) ,dove il re del bossanova Antonio Jobim crea una combinazione new wave (The Quick Marble Tremble) e il musicista modernista Charles Ives gioca con canzoni Balcaniche (UC Irvine UC Davis).La fusione di attitudini austere e popolari è rappresentata al meglio in Waltz Of The Skyscraper e Thinuette, due maestosi balli con innumerevoli sottili variazioni che esplorano un’ampia gamma di intrecci e strategie.

 

Dove Memory Is An Elephant è giocoso e melodioso Helium (Angel, 2000) è artificioso e cerebrale. Le matte influenze  tango sono sparite, rimpiazzate da contorti cenni jazz (Helium, che offre anche una versione orchestrale e vocale, Helium Reprise), jam quasi dissonanti (Beverly's March), frenesie pseudo-Balcaniche (Fountain Of Youth), atonali melodie lounge (Seamstress Extraordinaire). I loro blues assonnati (Sand Dog Blues, Width Of The World) e il loro sottofondo esotico easy-listening (Esperanto, Brennero), che superficialmente guardano a innocenti svaghi , nascondono invece sofisticati giochi armonici. La musica di questi brani è più astratta e artificiale del primo album, alienati improvvisamente dalle loro origini folk e immersi nella tradizione progressive-rock di Henry Cow e  Frank Zappa.

 

Carla KihlStedt ha anche suonato nei Sleepytime Gorilla Museum e ha pubblicato l’album solista 2 Foot Yard (Tzadik, 2003), in trio con la violoncellista Marika Hughes e il percussionista Shahzad Ismaily suonano sofisticate vignette di musica da camera.

 

Rodeo Eroded (Ropeadope, 2002) è molto meno entusiasmante degli album precedenti. Malgrado spicchino poche eccezioni (Holiday Joel).

 

I Tin Hat Trio ritornano in forma con Book Of Silk (Ropeadope, 2004). Rob Burger (fisarmonica, piano), Carla Kihlstedt (violino) e Mark Orton (chitarra) organizzano una polifonia trascendentale di strumenti acustici (in particolare l’arpa di Zeena Parkins'e la tuba di Bryan Smith) in un annuncio di metafisico languore (Lauren's Lullaby, Empire of Light, Pablo Looks Back, The Longest Night, Things That Might Have Been), interrotto da infantili e festivi atti (The Clandestine Adventures of Ms Merz, Same Shirt Different Day, Hotel Aurora) e oscurato da momentanee turbolenze  (Elliott Carter Family, Light Black from Pole to Pole). A cavallo tra musica classica e folk come i Penguin Cafè Orchestra sono abituati a fare, il Trio riscopre la magia universale e la bellezza che unisce l’élite e il popolo.

 

 

Rob Burger lascia I Tin Hat Trio prima della pubblicazione di  The Sad Machinery Of Spring (Ryko, 2007), accreditato come Tin Hat (senza "Trio") il duo formato da  Carla Kihlstedt (violino) e Mark Orton (chitarra) si amplia in un quintetto con l’arpista Zeena Parkins, il multi strumentista  Ara Anderson e il clarinettista Ben Goldberg. 15 vignette espressioniste  vicine allo spirito del neoclassico jazz strumentale degli Art Zoyd  e Univers Zero, se non fosse che l’ensemble Tin Hat non ha abbastanza fegato per tentare strutture più ambiziose. Janissary Banduna una sorta di marcia per celeste e tromba, e Dionysius, una sorta di bolero alla  Ravel, danno di fatto espressione a una volto infantile.

Carla Kihlstedt also plays in The Book Of Knots.

Tin Hat Trio's The Rain Is A Handsome Animal - 17 Songs From E.E. Cummings (New Amsterdam, 2012) was built around poems by Edward-Estlin Cummings.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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