Bassist and composer Greg Chudzik releases his follow up volume 2 to his 2015 "Solo Works, Vol 1" on the Panoramic imprint. Expansive, layered compositions incorporate a wide range of extended bass instrumental techniques into music that touches on Chudzik's prolific background as a performer in a wide variety of contemporary music, modern jazz, and experimental improvisation.
In the second volume of his “Solo Works” series, bassist/composer Greg Chudzik largely turns to the richness of acoustic timbres, presenting music for a quartet of layered double basses. Chudzik’s overlapping cyclical grooves and expansive harmonic sense echo his works for electric bass on Volume 1 of the set, but this newest collection is more wide ranging structurally, drifting in and out of propulsive rhythmic sections and freer explorations of sound.
The opening track, Wind Hymnal, so named after being partially written during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, consists of several sections built off repetitive cells, sometimes entering canonically, and other times acting as accompanimental figures to soloistic material. An odd meter pizzicato groove momentarily breaks up the mostly arco texture, before a wistful coda closes the work.
The What, an homage to the David Eggers novel “What is the What”, points back to Chudzik’s Volume 1 with its ostinato driven textures and interlocking rhythms, at times imitating the sounds of the West African kora.
Y’Chi is a meditation on masses of sound, undulating in and out in different registers. Embedded inside these rumbling chords are fascinating beatings resulting from overtones bouncing against each other. Midway through the piece, Chudzik leans more heavily on trilling high harmonics, capturing a compelling fragility in the sound world of the double bass.
Automated Ocean introduces electronics to the texture, using MIDI data to accompany the bass through the use of auto-tune (think Cher or T-Pain). At about the five minute mark of the work, off-kilter hocketing figures destabilize the texture before it reprises the opening in an ecstatic finish inspired by the impossibly euphoric sounds of slot machines in a Vegas casino.
Chudzik’s work as a performer/composer is informed by his wealth of experience as a bassist in many contexts. An interest in a richly extended timbral language lives alongside a penchant for minimalist use of motives, and his use of electronics achieves a premeditated “concert” music contextualization of the medium with platforms that are often used in live contexts. Throughout, his strong command as an instrumentalist is animated by the spark of spontaneity of a seasoned improviser. All these components come together in Chudzik’s “Solo Works Volume 2” to make for a collection that reflects his unique voice in the contemporary music scene.
– D. Lippel
Greg Chudzik is an active performer across numerous genres on the double bass and electric bass. Currently, he can be seen performing regularly with several new music groups, including Signal Ensemble, Wet Ink Ensemble, and Talea Ensemble. Greg is also a member of several bands, including Empyrean Atlas, Bing and Ruth, and The Briars of North America. He has worked with numerous influential figures in contemporary music, including Steve Coleman, Steve Reich, Brian Ferneyhough, Pierre Boulez, George Benjamin, Helmut Lachenmann, Charles Wuorinen, Alex Mincek and Tristan Perich. Greg’s recording credits include playing on the Grammy-nominated “Barcelonaza” by Jorge Leiderman, “Pulse / Quartet” by Steve Reich on Nonesuch records, “Morphogenesis” and "Synovial Joints" by Steve Coleman on Pi Recordings, “No Home of the Mind” and "Tomorrow Was the Golden Age" by Bing and Ruth on RVNG records, the album “Americans” by Scott Johnson (Tzadik records), multiple recordings with Signal Ensemble on New Amsterdam and Mode Records, the album “Grown Unknown” by Lia Ices (Secretly Canadian records), the album "Inner Circle" by Empyrean Atlas, and the album “High Violet” by The National on 4AD records. Greg's debut album "Solo Works, Vol. 1" was released in July of 2015 and features original pieces of music written for bass guitar and electronics.http://www.gregchudzik.com
Readers might recognize bassist Greg Chudzik from his playing on Steve Reich’s Pulse / Quartet on Nonesuch Records, Steve Colman’s Morphogenesis from a few years back, or from The National’s High Violet. But if you were a listener to my former radio show you would have heard nearly the entirety of his Solo Works, Vol. 1 from 2015. Chudzik has followed up that superb set of pieces for solo electric bass with Solo Works, Vol. 2, a collection of four extended pieces for a quartet of layered acoustic double basses.
The bassist’s wide-ranging workload as a player is reflected in Chudzik’s impressively diverse compositional approaches on SWV2: Wind Hymnal is a sullen and folksy, almost Asian-tinged number while The What is a catchy, dare I say poppy, hit in 7; Y’Chi is a slowly-evolving spectral monolith while Automated Ocean is a midi-enhanced/effected and rhythmically dense piece of contemporary composition. In the wrong hands, this type of multiplicity could come across as overly ambitious or even jumbled, but Chudzik’s exceptional compositional voice is more than strong enough to unify this set in considerably rewarding ways. It is certainly worth noting that Chudzik’s traditional and extended bowing technique is masterful and adds another layer of excellence to what is already compelling material.
The album ends on a fittingly rhapsodic and triumphant note, leaving the listener with chills of optimism, not an easy task in 2019. The first two doses of Chudzik solo works have me hooked and in a state of already very much jonesing for Vol 3!
-Kevin Coultas, 3.10.19, In On the Corner