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