As the Cicada Breathes
Most recent review: The Sublingual Ensemble is comprised of an excellent assortment of multi-instrumentalists, whose woody, spacious textures recall some of the more vintage moments of fellow Michigander Roscoe Mitchell's Sound and Space Ensemble. Elijah Church's idiosyncratic trio of instruments lends much of this music it's more eldritch timbres. But they resist this kind of pigeon-holing due to their audible group ethos. This is very patient music where nobody steps on another's toes. Too, they've got a knack for development (Nastos is quite tasteful in his percussion work, both framing and discoursing at length). Michalowski supplies most of the heat, while Cornish and Church blow cool breaths on the coals. On the excellent 'Bone People' (perhaps a tribute to Keri Hulme's great novel of the same name?), Cornish's tart cornet muscles it's way into the perky groove that the ensemble whip up. But things get even more intense on 'Gregor Encounters a Tavern,' with spectral woodwinds abounding in a way that recalls some of Dominic Duval's Ensemble (albeit with different instrumentation). The same dark ritualism pervades 'Divination Attempts,' where flute and bass clarinet contrast nicely. 'Sparse Glide' is a quirky percussion study-with Crozier on steel drums and Nastos on the 'hupkaphone,' cementing a different influence, that of Henry Threadgill-that recalls the early Harry Partch of, say, 'Castor and Pollux.' The closing track meanders a bit more than the others, and the wide range of timbres that characterizes the record as a whole isn't quite as cohesive here. But it still has moments of intense coalescence, just like the album in general. A nice one, recommended particularly for fans of Mitchell's work. Jason Bivins Cadence, December 2005, p. 123 Another review: This CD features some very interesting improvised works by a 5-piece you won't soon forget. James Cornish on cornet, flute, violin & percussion; Rob Crozier with bass (acoustic), chromatic harmonica, steel drum & percussion; Elijah Church doing ba-hu, recorder & whistles; Piotr Michalowski playing soprano & sopranino sax & bass clarinet; & Michael G. Nastos on drums/cymbals, hubkaphone, bells, wood whistles, Tiger squeak toy, voice, shakers & percussion. I don't usually list all the instruments out, but in this case, you need to realize the breadth & depth these guys cover with their music. We've heard Piotr before (issue # 67), but not in this context. The music will hold the listener intrigued from the opening bar. & that's 'saying something' for music that's as heavily improvised as this is... there's a sense of 'body' on the compositions that doesn't always come through on this kind of music... that was especially true on the opener (a nearly 16 minute epic), 'Bone People', my favorite piece on the CD, but (believe it or not), it also holds true for 'Sparse Glide Across A Fresh Field'... obviously, with a title like that, you will anticipate the minimalist nature of it - but it still has a 'fullness' that's very attractive to the ear. This is one of the most interesting listens I've had this year, & gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from our ears. Rotcod Zzaj Improvijazzation Nation 71 --------------- THE SUBLINGUAL ENSEMBLE The Sublingual Ensemble has already performed (twice) at the cutting edge Exposed Festival,at the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor, MI, has opened for Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls, for Cooper-Moore/T. Ashar, and at the 2005 edition of the international Edgefest festival of avant and improvised music. Piotr Michalowski plays bass clarinet and soprano sax; he appeared on previous Abzu record label dates, including sessions with violinist Mike Khoury. Bassist Rob Crozier is a well-heeled improviser who has performed in styles as diverse as Latin Jazz, Blues, and Radical Fusion. Woodwind player Elijah Church has studied the ethnic woodwinds of numerous cultures for several years and has synthesized his sound to deliver a mesmerizing and highly intuitive musical landscape. Percussionist Michael G. Nastos has been active in the Southeast Michigan jazz community for over 30 years, having been influenced by his stay at the Creative Music Studios in Woodstock, NY during the formative 1970's. Woodwind player and violinist James Cornish is a veteran of several progressive ensembles, having recorded multiple releases with the RustBeltJazz Ensemble.