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Robert Sabin | Humanity, Pt. II

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Jazz: Modern Free Jazz Avant Garde: FilmBaby Moods: Mood: Brooding
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Humanity, Pt. II

by Robert Sabin

Dark, acoustic, and romantic avant-garde improvisations combined with cinematic compositions and contemporary jazz.
Genre: Jazz: Modern Free Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Humanity, Pt. II
6:59 $0.99
2. Through a Glass Darkly
9:55 $0.99
3. Scarecrow
8:08 $0.99
4. Ghost
6:46 $0.99
5. Tenebre
5:15 $0.99
6. Leviathan
10:43 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Humanity (Part II) is an amalgam of Morricone’s two-part work that was composed for John Carpenter’s film “The Thing.” Originally orchestrated by Alan Howarth using vintage synthesizers, the piece is now realized with brass and woodwinds while retaining Howarth's accentuated negative space. The main theme becomes a backdrop for Jeremy Noller’s triplet swing feel, a bass pedal point, and Jason Rigby’s tenor improvisation. The melody dissolves into a second section that features Jesse Lewis’ bi-tonal guitar solo and an inevitable ensemble crescendo. The piece endures a grand pause before climaxing into fragments of Morricone’s theme realized by the full ensemble.

Through A Glass Darkly reflects elements of existentialism evident in Ingmar Bergman’s film trilogy, and is also divided into three parts. The first begins with a dialogue between Ben Stapp's tuba improvisation and the ensemble, along with the pendulum between major and minor tonalities. The piece dissolves without development into a ensemble chorale before a crescendo into Jason Rigby’s improvisation. The piece halts abruptly, signaling the third section which features Jeremy Noller’s drum improvisation over a chorus of cross-talking polyphony and canonic melodies.

Scarecrow was inspired by elements of Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit, specifically “Le Gibet” in which “the observer is presented with a view of the desert, where the lone corpse of a hanged man on a gibbet stands out against the horizon, reddened by the setting sun; a bell tolls from inside the walls of a far-off city, creating the deathly atmosphere that surrounds the observer.” Throughout the piece the ostinato, imitative of the tolling bell, remains distinctive in the background. John Yao and Chris Komer contribute the improvisations that sustain the middle sections of the piece.

Ghost channels the singular feeling of a house immediately following the death of its occupant. The rooms and objects seem to exist in a debilitating and unsettled silence, taunting the visitor to speak the name of those no longer there and leaving all calls unanswered. Jason Rigby again contributes the improvisation that brings the work to its fruition.

Tenebre reflects elements of the giallo style on display in the Dario Argento film that is the piece’s namesake. A short solo from Aaron Irwin establishes the mood before the theme is introduced in the saxophones. Ambiguous lines cross over a polymetric ostinato, the crescendo giving way to Matt Holman’s extended improvisation pushing the piece to careen towards its abrupt conclusion.

Leviathan conjures images of a maleficent creature, rising from the sea to lay waste to the objects in its path. The 7-bar phrase and muted guitar ostinato form the backdrop to the bass improvisation that precedes the melody. A series of modulations introduces Aaron Irwin’s solo, followed by a cacophonous contribution from Jesse Lewis. The piece begins to collapse under its own weight as the heaviness of the pulse succumbs to the augmented statement of the melody. The beast returns to the sea, bludgeoned but unbowed.



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Troy Collins

Robert Sabin: Humanity Part II (2015)
Robert Sabin has a dark side. Although the New York-based bassist regularly serves as a sideman to such luminaries as Oliver Lake and Luis Bonilla, Sabin has revealed an abiding fascination with horror throughout his career, as documented on his 2005 Ranula Music debut Killdozer, based on Marvin Heemeyer's infamous armored bulldozer rampage in Colorado the previous year, and his 2007 sophomore follow-up Romero, an ode to George Romero's apocalyptic zombie films.

Humanity Part II continues Sabin's investigation into the underbelly of human existence. Instead of his usual small combo, Sabin enlists a brass-heavy ten piece ensemble to convey his cinematic extemporizations, whose lush voicings lend the proceedings a neoclassical air, similar to the post-war Third Stream experiments of Gil Evans and Gunther Schuller. Emulating concerto form, he employs protean tenor saxophonist Jason Rigby as primary soloist throughout the date, with guitarist Jesse Lewis receiving ample time in the spotlight as well.

The album is named after part of Ennio Morricone's score for John Carpenter's 1982 cult classic The Thing, though the opening title track is actually a composite of the soundtrack's two main themes. Originally performed on vintage synthesizers, the haunting motifs are gracefully reinterpreted by the horn section with a lilting swing feel, accentuated by Rigby's foreboding tenor ruminations and Lewis' scorching fretwork.

Drawing inspiration from another cinema icon, the episodic "Through A Glass Darkly" reflects the existentialism of Ingmar Bergman's film trilogy through a heady mélange of polyphonic choruses and canonical melodies, with tuba player Ben Stapp and drummer Jeremy Noller making notable appearances alongside Rigby. Similarly, "Tenebre" pays homage to the garish giallo style proffered by Dario Argento's movie of the same name, underscored by Matt Holman's prismatic trumpet cadences.

Drawing from sources beyond film, the dreamlike counterpoint of "Scarecrow" references Maurice Ravel's phantasmagoric solo piano suite Gaspard de la nuit, while the introspective "Ghost" conveys loss. The monolithic "Leviathan" concludes the program in suitably dramatic fashion, rising from the subterranean depths of Sabin's stalwart bass solo to the searing heights of Lewis' progressively frenzied outro.

Despite the dark subject matter, Sabin's arrangements on Humanity Part II are surprisingly accessible—beautiful even. Though somewhat rarefied in jazz and improvised music, Sabin's musical adaptations of unsettling imagery resound with a primal appeal, drawing aesthetic parallels to such timeless traditions as Dia de Muertos and the Grand Guignol.

Track Listing: Humanity (Part II); Through a Glass Darkly; Scarecrow; Ghost; Tenebre; Leviathan.

Personnel: Robert Sabin: bass; Jesse Lewis: guitar; Jeremy Noller: drums; Aaron Irwin: alto saxophone, clarinet, flute; Jason Rigby: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Dan Urness: trumpet; Matt Holman: trumpet; Chris Komer: horn; John Yao: trombone; Ben Stapp: tuba.