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David Gross, "Things I Found To Be True"


Sedimental
A northeastern American sax player bent on packing his unique and extreme vision into an unassuming, highly personal statement, David Gross might as well be poster boy for the Sedimental label. His first for solo alto saxophone, Things I Have Found To Be True follows fellow Bostonian James Coleman's tremendous solo theremin recording Zuihitsu and Performing Tonight, a collection of baffling sax/voice duets from Gross and Liz Tonne. Gross' 15-year history of instrument discovery stops here in an indecipherable tome to childhood and personal history. Gross has made statements about dismantling completely his concept of looking for new niches within a history of jazz etc, and these ideas are completely supported from minute #1 of this disc. The artist's style is probably derivative of someone else; more appropriately it is entirely derivative of the saxophone as an inert vessel of forces, ideas at the core of any history of free music, but Things I Have Found makes clear that these matter not. By covering the disc with personal referents, including Gross' grandmother's beautiful cover painting of the artist and his brother as children, he creates a mythology that is more than simple juxtaposition of abstract sound and subjective information. The first track, "Partially Buried Woodshed," becomes obscure childhood memory, plea for the abstract expressionist credo of emotion-through-basic-gesture, and a brut simulation technique all flooding at once with Gross struggling to keep his breath within the spaces. Others have described the artist's style as "sculptural," a perfect term that hones in on the physicality of the playing and sounds played, while leaving room for projected spaces within the saxophone itself and divergent, imaginary realms created. A woodshed of breath, brass, earth, flesh, and…wood creates itself, outside of history, outside of temporal concerns, a bound diary of suspended moments, whittled down to a purity of expression without a purity of intent. The surprises come when things even remotely close to traditional (read: human) sax sounds creep through, as if by accident. "Dystonia" is a numbing human-voice-through-saxophone-bell piece whose guttural meanderings have surely been done-over countless times but enter the mythology of the record in a refreshing way here: comfort and assurance in, yes indeed, a human presence and abject terror at how the presence asserts itself. Gross' playing is more sparse on this release than any of the other documents I've heard, though these are his most complex compositions; the intimacy with which he approaches the saxophone, each screw in each latch, every fiber in the reed, every pad or valve, and all the negative space in between, is simply astounding.

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The Eye: Video of the Day

White Rainbow

YouTube Video


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Scott Smallwood/Sawako/Seth Cluett/Ben Owen/Civyiu Kkliu, "Phonography Meeting 070823"

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