October 2005

Michael Galasso
High Lines
ECM Records

There is some evidence that a violin renaissance is trying to get started in jazz, and Michael Galasso is a case in point. Not that Galasso is jazz, exactly.

Atypically for an ECM album, High Lines comes with extensive liner notes by Steve Lake. They are welcome, because Galasso is not well known, and there is a lot to know about him. His background and interests are so uncommonly diverse that they are more like multiple personality syndrome than eclecticism. Galasso encompasses Bach, post-Schoenbergian serialism, zydeco (he is from Louisiana), freebop, John Cage and Middle Eastern music-and that is only a start.

Most of those sources are woven into High Lines, and while the liner notes provide orientation, Galasso's rich, quirky, ambiguous music quickly commands attention on its own. The 16 tracks run from 40 seconds to six minutes, and they touch an enormous range of colors and timbres and textures from only four instruments. But one is a uniquely imposing instrument, the guitar of Terje Rypdal. It surrounds the fine incised lines or razory treble complexities of Galasso's violin with vast, jagged and dense electronic vistas.

Originally published in October 2005
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