Info Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble II 
"Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble II"
by Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble
De Stijl (no number)
"Trudge II"

fn issue October 2011
'N-Plants' - Biosphere
'Sky Snails' - The Electric Golem
'Echo Park' - Willamette
'Gramophone Transmissions' - Broken Harbour
'Negative Space' - Blue Sausage Infant
'Home Patterning' - compilation
'Polychromatic Integers' - Richard Lainhart
'Generate Records' - compilation
'Sung In Broken Symmetry' - Aquarelle

In San Francisco, long a hub of west coast experimentalism since the early San Francisco Tape Music Center of the 1960s, Jack Curtis Dubowsky, on bass and a vintage Roland Jupiter-6, fronts his eponymous ensemble, comprising Fred Morgan on drums and Hall Goff on tenor trombone with a Digitech VX 400 processor. The Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble (JCDE) is a strange and unique group, picking bits and pieces of several different genres, straddling them without fully settling in any of them. A trio rooted in bass and drums, one might look to any of the contemporary pop strands for role models. With a trombone for the melodic lead, one might consider jazz. Lots of trombone processing and an analog synthesizer suggest perhaps a certain strain of ambient or teutonic experimentation. Little would one suspect that the members' primary areas of expertise is classical music.

The diversity in the music reflects their backgrounds. Dubowsky has written soundtracks for films widely enough distributed to be available on Netflix and composed award-winning choral music. As a Bay Area freelancer, Hall Goff worked with ensembles from Zappa to Ella Fitzgerald, in addition to his regular orchestral appointments. Morgan is a recent conservatory grad with timpani positions in local orchestras, but here he plays a standard drum kit.

The JCDE's second album was recorded live in the studio in one day and without overdubs. The eleven songs all have a common sonic vocabulary: a fat bass riff working in conjunction with close-miked drums, and one or two layers of weird from the processed trombone or the Jupiter-6. Anchored by three different versions of a robotic, deranged blues, an improvisational vehicle called Trudge, where Goff stitches short gestures into elaborate, spun-out melodies, sometimes with several processes creating unimagined resonance and sliding harmonies, a horn section adrift in time and space. Tracks like the opening Leptocephalus, Pericles and Beehive are more rock oriented, faster and more direct, but all of the players engage in abstract small sounds on the aptly-named Larvae. Although Dubowsky doesn't use computers or MIDI with his Jupiter, he uses its internal arpeggiators and hold functions, to create polyrhythms, allowing him play bass and synth simultaneously. The JCDE plays a futuristic lounge jazz, replete with nocturnal overtones, swampy, humid and mysterious.

Review by Caleb Deupree


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