In 1967, Paul Winter and his Consort pretty much founded World chamber music. As that particular klatsch rapidly collapsed (wellllll, actually, it was never stable, going through myriad personnel changes), it gave birth to the imperishable gods of the realm: Oregon (ca 1971). In the meantime, Manfred Eicher had founded the best music label this planet's ever been witness to, ECM (1969), and the course of modern music changed significantly. But there are really only two grails, ECM and Oregon, and those of us who tread this world with a sense of refinement and a taste for all art but especially of high caliber, well, I have to say we encounter tough times locating materials sufficient to the apogee. Thus, fellow sonic Diogenists, fear not, hunger no longer, at least for a while, as Jerry Kalaf is one of us.
A drummer of notable acumen—I put him in the Jon Christensen provenance with some Paul Motian mixed in—and featured in literally hundreds of movie soundtracks and other recordings, the ultimate evidence of his artistry is contained not just in the suite of songs recorded here but in the fact that he is, as he puts it, an 'absolutist' as versus a 'programmatic', much more concerned with the music per se than what the exterior intent toward it might be. Thus, there are ceaselessly interlinking and flowing harmonics and melodics at work, all sitting within themselves like sage angels grounded on Earth with perhaps a tad too much wisdom, no longer able to settle for the prosaic or mundane. Nothing's forced, but every moment is carefully analyzed as the tunes progress within themselves. This is why one may well call Welcome to Earth 'meditative', imbued with a purity almost monastic.
Three cuts are exquisite sextets, and three are trios, with the last two also triadic, but each constellation is an entirely different group save for Kalaf's presence. That absolutist strain runs through everything, yielding an integrative set of atmospherics in highwater-mark creativity. Concord pervades every inch of the release, everyone completely dialed in, a rare instance of several cooks perfecting the soup well beyond the recipe. I have a weakness for the guitar, and thus Barry Coates' subtle restrained lines are echoic of the aforementioned ECM, but then Doug Walter steps in with his saxes and demonstrates the exact same discernment, each note golden while laconic. The pianists and bass players take their turns, Kalaf propelling everything all the while, and…dammit!…I have nothing to criticize here, only praise. Sigh! I may have to hide my Crusty Critics Card until this all blows over and the watch-wardens pass on.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles