This may be the single most powerful piece of music that the Kronos Quartet has ever recorded, and perhaps that Terry Riley has ever written. This is because Requiem for Adam is so personal, so direct, and experiential. Requiem for Adam was written after the death of Kronos violinist David Harrignton's son. He died, in 1995, at the age of 16, from an aneurysm in his coronary artery. Riley, who is very close to the Harringtons and has a son the same age, has delved deep into the experience of death and resurrection, or, at the very least, transmutation. Requiem for Adam is written in three parts, or movements. The first, "Ascending the Heaven Ladder," is based on a four-note pattern that re-harmonizes itself as it moves up the scale. There are many variations and series based on each of these notes and their changing harmonics, and finally a 5/4 dance as it moves to the highest point on the strings. The drone-like effect is stunning when the listener realizes that the drone is changing shape too, ascending the scale, moving ever upward and taking part in the transmutation of harmony.
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Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. Comes with a descripton in Japanese. There's a lot of great chromatic elements going on here – thanks to the work of John Scofield on guitar, who's at that key point where he could effortlessly balance melody and tone with these edges that are sharp, but also very spacious – kind of a wide style that really reaches out and wraps up the rest of the players in the group! Not that the record's one of John's as a leader, because the real driving force here is David Liebman on tenor and soprano sax – but he also seems to let Scofield set the tone at many times – which opens up work from the rest of the players, who include Terumasa Hino on trumpet, Ron McClure on bass, and Adam Nussbaum on drums. This approach makes the record a lot less arch than some of Liebman's other material from the time – and titles include "Reunion", "Moontide", "Move On Some", "Autumn In New York", "If They Only Knew", and "Capitstrano".
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Sound explorations are emphasized throughout this release with Jeff Palmer's atmospheric organ, the varied tones of John Abercrombie's guitar synthesizer, David Liebman's very passionate soprano and Adam Nussbaum's drums interacting over a variety of patterns. All of the compositions are group originals with five by Palmer and one apiece from the other three musicians. Whether it be the funky beat of "Hip Slick," the free jamming of "Mr. Adam," the spacey title cut or the almost New Age feel of "Mr. John," the themes are less important than the setting of moods and the advanced improvising.
Performed by the Shanghai Film Orchestra, conducted by Wang Yongji. Truly celestial and a different feeling than American / European performances of this famous piece. This CD also contains David Mingyue Lang's gorgeous Music of a Thousand Springs and his Zen (Ch'an) of Water. Highly recommended.
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