Saturday, March 4, 2023

Christopher Hale, Ritual Diamonds


Musical things that occupy an original niche in our listening possibilities nowadays are more important to me than some kind of dominance in terms of chops. If you or I can never come close to duplicating some technical  feat, I will no doubt want to hear it, something of that sort, most probably but it will not make the sort of impact an altogether original slant can make today. Of course someone might innovate highly and still have monster chops compared with others in his or her time. Charlie Parker of course comes to mind. Nevertheless today's really new music much of the time is more squarely in the discovery vein, in the realm of a new language of sorts than in a blockbuster explosion of technique, or at least it seems that way to me.

I refer to an EP out by Christopher Hale entitled Ritual Diamonds (Earshift Music EAR064). It brings to bear some six Hale compositions, one cowritten with Woo Minyoung. Germinal to this music is a Classical Korean rhythmic element that continues an infectious pulse but then inserts endlessly variable patterns into it that in ensemble terms that afford the music a kind of composed and sometimes improvised string of endless melodic strains that are lovely to behold, very much so.

So the fundamental element comes out of conventional drum set and Korean percussion with patterns suggested above. And then we have these compositions built up in endless melody, seemingly based on or suggested by the Korean rhythmic patterns. It seems like that and the idea is that it works very well with Hale's bass and baritone guitars as well as his regular six string electric instrument. He plays nicely idiomatic solos when he does and they fit well into the music at large. And so too we have the ensemble and soloists on Korean instruments, tenor and soprano saxes, Fender Rhodes, trumpet, second guitar, etc.

So the music and its long, mesmerizing chordal and melodic sequences seem to me as haunting and appealing as anything out there now!  It is only 35 minutes of music but worth every minute. Bravo and brava!

Listen to some samples on Bandcamp.