It all begins with the drone, the AUM, the central vibration. Even before the invocational melody is phrased and descends, a gently pulsing octave emerges, simultaneously the largest interval and a point of return, both a summation and a seed, giving the new form lifeblood and focus. Forty years after his first solo piano recording, Joel Futterman has reached a point of definition. He has harnessed improvisation’s diverse and myriad dynamic manifestations of size, space, phrase, rhythm and color, creating a Protean masterpiece from the rich and ever-fertile soil of innovation and tradition.
As if viewing a sculpture from all possible angles, Intervals comprises iterations and reiterations of elastic instants, molten moments melted and frozen, and yet, its constituent elements eschew complexity. A three-note melodic figure, an octave and related pedal-tones, and a gently ascending arpeggio succeeded by a rejuvenating pause, recur in slow dance or rapid-fire juxtaposition throughout this hour of sound in space. They ebb and flow in radical reconfigurations, like the spatially disparate fragments, floating by as constellations, that conclude Part I. Taken as a frame, these structural motives form the material from which Futterman fashions structures of varying shape, weight and density. Like the Nighttown episode of James Joyce’s Ulysses, Futterman’s narrative encompasses, with dream-precision and the fiery flexibility of spontaneous invention, increasingly vast territories of discovery and reference before each return regrounds listener and performer in a fluid present in contextual flux. Witness the slow-swinging stride sliding into focus at 20:29 of Part II only to disappear just as quickly, or the conflation, at 4:48 of Part I, of “Love for Sale” and “The Creator Has a Master Plan.”
Beyond all scholarly investment, and the allusions are present, only waiting for discovery, Futterman offers noth.......