Exposé Online banner

Harvey Valdes Trio — PointCounterPoint
((Not on label) no#, 2016, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-05-13

PointCounterPoint Cover art

Recently I read Derek Bailey’s book Improvisation, and one of the things he discussed was idiomatic improvisation, which is improvisation within an established style such as jazz or Northern Indian classical music or baroque music. This is contrasted with non-idiomatic improvisation, which is not bound by such factors or traditions. The use of the term “free improvisation,” while technically accurate, comes with so much baggage that it’s more hindrance than help in trying to describe music. I bring this up not because PointCounterPoint is completely improvised — it’s not, and in fact has some great compositions — but because while the music would probably broadly be categorized as jazz, when the players do improvise, it is not really idiomatic of jazz improvisation as it’s generally known. Which is all to basically say it’s not traceable to the blues, to get down to the root. Of course, over the last several decades, there has developed a lot of jazz that’s pretty far removed from the blues. The trio consists of Harvey Valdes on electric guitar, Sana Nagano on violin, and Joe Hertenstein on drums, and the complex, angular compositions call to mind such things as Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, Present, Bartók’s chamber music, and complex math-rock. Another reference that comes to mind is Korekyojinn, though with less emphasis on the heavy end of the spectrum. Valdes favors tones with a fair amount of distortion and other effects, and plays a seven-string guitar, so the lack of a dedicated bass instrument is not detrimental to the impact of the music. In contrast to Valdes, Nagano plays it straight tone-wise, using an acoustic instrument without (as far as I can tell) any effects. Her playing is plenty impressive without any enhancements, however; she dives into the off-kilter nearly atonal melodies with abandon, and her solos adopt the same esthetic, giving the pieces great coherence, almost as if the solos had been composed as well. Hertenstein does an amazing job of keeping the energy level high in spite of the erratic rhythms, working with equal parts recognizable patterns and “melodic” lines that match the accents of the other two. Harvey Valdes is a talent to be reckoned with, both as a composer and a guitarist, and this trio is a fascinating creative voice in modern music.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Harvey Valdes

More info
http://harveyvaldes.bandcamp.com/album/pointcounterpoint

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Wendy Carlos - Digital Moonscapes & Beauty in the Beast – One of the shortcomings of electronic music is that no matter how sophisticated the hardware and software have become, it can’t approach natural instrumentation for the wealth of detail in sound and...  (2001) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues