Graham Reynolds and Graham Reynolds & the Golden Arm Trio

The Difference Engine, and Duke! Three Portraits of Ellington (Innova)

Texas Platters

Graham Reynolds

The Difference Engine (Innova)

Graham Reynolds & the Golden Arm Trio

Duke! Three Portraits of Ellington (Innova)
Texas Platters

Premiered last February in a commission for Ballet Austin, The Difference Engine hums Graham Reynolds' hybrid classicism. A triple concerto, its five compact movements spotlight a trio of soloists – Leah Zeger (violin), Jonathan Dexter (cello), and Reynolds (piano) – plus an ensemble: five other violinists, two violas, bass, and a quartet of cellos including Dexter and Reynolds. Cinematic visions of Ennio Morricone begin "Ada," but it sweeps closed as if at the heart of an instrumental opera – stripped to its sweep and recede. The percussive tumble and saw of "Cam Stack & Crank Handle" drives the internal narrative forward, soloists dancing in the ensemble's string currents. This is the hit, Maytag agitation its hook. "Late at Night/The Astronomer" doubles as the ballad blossoming swanlike from dark hues. Only the closing title track starts to slumber scorelike – until its final minute and a half of ensemble flurry/fury leaves you breathless. Follow this with all five movements remixed by DJ Spooky, the Octopus Project, Grupo Fantasma's Adrian Quesada, and Golden Hornet Project composing partners Peter Stopschinski and Reynolds, and local sci-fi exotica never pulsed so smoothly into Krautrock and drum 'n' bass. Duke! Three Portraits of Ellington, then, constitutes Reynolds' Mr. Hyde side, a DIY takedown of jazz hallmark "Caravan" opening with a frenetic piano flourish ready-made for some klezmer band bingeing on its diet-pill stash. The brass urgency of "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" demonstrates a punk rock moxie that's inverted on the piano and trombone of "Echoes of Harlem." Off Ellington's far-out Far East Suite, "Blue Pepper" lacks no spice, while standard "Cotton Tail" takes off on sax and trombone like the rabbit it is. Local jazz backbones John Mills, Thad Scott, and Paul Klemperer man the former section, and Freddie Mendoza, Wayne Myers, and Jerome Smith constitute the latter group. Duke! repeats twice more, once as string quartet abstractions (the creeping "Caravan Pizz") and finally (especially) as remixes. Quesada spins magical realism, Butcher Bear slices dimensions, and Gabriel Prokofiev – Sergei's grandson (!) – uncorks dramatic low tones on "Old Kings." Maestro, maestro!

(The Difference Engine) ****

(Duke!) ***.5

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Graham Reynolds
Playback: Compose Like a Pro
Playback: Compose Like a Pro
Graham Reynolds teaches musicians how to score ... film

Kevin Curtin, Nov. 30, 2018

Off the Record
Off the Record
Music News

Austin Powell, Feb. 25, 2011

More Graham Reynolds & the Golden Arm Trio
SXSW Music Jazz Sampler
SXSW Music Jazz Sampler
Psychedelic, post-bop, Latin-inflected, and more: 11 jazz artists

Michael Toland, March 16, 2018

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Nagavalli
Immersion (Record Review)

Christina Garcia, Dec. 14, 2018

Texas Platters
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten’s Village Songs
Den Signede Dag (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Jan. 26, 2018

More by Raoul Hernandez
Gary Clark Jr. Packs Antone’s for Spotify Exclusive Event
Gary Clark Jr. Packs Antone’s for Spotify Exclusive Event
Homegrown bluesman debuts This Land

Feb. 12, 2019

Austin Terror Fest Drops the Big One
Austin Terror Fest Drops the Big One
Third year comer triples down at Empire & Barracuda June 7-9

Jan. 23, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Graham Reynolds, Graham Reynolds & the Golden Arm Trio

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle