Sunday, August 6, 2017
Hiatus Listening: Rediscovering Rufus Records
bandcamp.com, I came across an album by the Alister Spence Trio, an ensemble based in Australia that recorded on the Rufus Records label. I had been introduced to the Trio and the record label when I wrote for Bob Rusch's CADENCE Magazine in the 1990s, discovering music from halfway around the world that resonated with a person living in CT. Mr. Rusch sent me music created by saxophonist Bernie McGann (pictured above), by Ten Part Invention (a little big band led by drummer John Pochée), by pianist Tim Stevens, and others. I began an email correspondence with label president Tim Dunn - we chatted about all sorts of things but I was most impressed by Mr Dunn's dedication to original music created by Australian musicians. Like CrissCross Records and Gerry Teekens, François Zalacain at Sunnyside Records, Marc Free and Nick O'Toole at Posi-Tone Records, Manfred Eicher and ECM, Tim Dunn knows what he likes to hear and works hard to spread the word and the sounds. After I stopped writing for CADENCE and about music for a while, Mr. Dunn and I lost touch.
Transgender Law Center, an organization based in Oakland, CA, whose mission is "to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression." Bandcamp's 24-hour sale netted, approximately, $700,000 for the Law Center. Yes, this reviewer purchased "Wending" by Bernie McGann (90 minutes of live recordings from 2005 and 2012).
I also rediscovered Stevens - I already had in my possession two of his earlier recordings, a splendid Trio CD and a wonderful, exploratory, solo piano album from 2002 titled "Freehand." His latest recording, "Media Vita", is his fourth solo endeavor and features 12 pieces composed during 2016 when the Melbourne-based musician wrote a new song every day. I purchased that album as well and will review it at a later date (the pile of CDs waiting to reviewed is awfully high - no complaints, just reporting the facts) so it will be a few weeks. On first listen, I am pleased by the attractive melodies and how they flow. No question that Stevens is a technically impressive piano but this music has much more emotion than technique - in fact, the composer writes that "there is no free improvisation."
Here's "Big Moon" and, below that, the opening track from "Media Vita":
Find out more about the record label by going to www.rufusrecords.com.au. To find out more about pianist and composer Tim Stevens, go to timstevens.com.au.