Jazz Weekly: INTRIGUING ENSEMBLES…Miya Masaoka: Triangle of Resistance, Matt Ulery’s Loom/Large: Festival

by George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
November 10, 2016

Music groups come in all sizes these days, sometimes even changing midstream on an
album. Here are a couple examples.

Miya Masaoka plays the traditional koto instrument as she leads a flexible ensemble through
three originals. Richard Carrick conducts 2 violins, a viola, cello, synthesizer and a collection
of percussion that includes Buddhist prayer singing bowls.

There are three compositions, with the strings getting eerie and the drums thunderous on
“The Long Road” for 12 minutes, some electronic space sounds and percussion crescendos
for almost 20 minutes on “The Clattering of Life” and dark shadows forming on “Survival.”
After all that, there is 16  minutes of solo acoustic bass by James Ilgenfritz who, as they say
in the musical Oklahoma, “they’ve taken it as far as it will go.”

Matt Ulery plays bass and tuba in a pair of different settings. A quintet with Geof Bradfield/cl-
bcl, Russ Johnson/tp, Rob Clearfield/p and Jon Deitemyer/dr have the leader for six songs
on tuba and five for bass. The tuba lead songs are 1-3 minutes long and have an intimate and
indie feel. There’s almost a Sunday Picnic at the Park feel on “Horseshoe” and “Depth of
Winter.” On the bass lead material, there is subtle piano prancing on “Canopy” while
Johnson’s horn is rich and comfy on “Hymnody” and Gradfield’s reeds mix with brass in
counterpoint on “Ethery.”

The larger ensemble includes more brass, reeds and strings for a pair of songs. “The
Peacocks” has some rich pastoral textures” and “Hubble” lets the string section glide over
the suave drum pulse, with harmonies and moods being the main purpose here. Modern