Urdla_xxx_span3
05/02/10

Sabir Mateen
URDLA XXX
RogueArt

A longtime resident of New York City since moving from his hometown of Philadelphia, multi-reed artist Sabir Mateen also frequents European venues. In 2008, Mateen recorded a solo midnight performance that celebrated the 30th anniversary of the URDLA engraving workshop in Villeurbanne, France. The resulting album is titled URDLA XXX.

The first sounds heard are perceptibly a distance away from the recording microphone. Mateen rattles a group of percussion bells and vocalizes in an unrecognizable language; perhaps spontaneously, as spontaneously as he begins on the alto clarinet, “Art Dance,” once he has reached the spot where he finally plays.

Mateen’s expertise stems from his ability to weave dense linear textures. He does this by quickly and methodically placing phrase next to phrase, punctuating with single notes as introduction or conclusion. Mateen sneaks in melodies as starting off points, especially in the pieces he plays with the alto sax. But these pieces immediately transform into beautiful cascades of arpeggios that he examines in detail both rhythmically and ornamentally, while in process.

It is not a huge leap to hear Mateen’s playing as corresponding to painterly motion. The textures Mateen composes are multicolored. One can see the brush strokes adhering to human-sized canvases; the brush in the artist’s hand moving up and down, fast and slow, forming flowing lines or splotches, high up on the painting and down low, below eye level. Metaphorically, at eye-level, are Mateen’s heartfelt, straight-forward melodies or the clear configuration of abstract stepping stones away from which he can stretch the improvisation. At eye-level also, at least within the layout of the program of music, Mateen speaks a minute and a half of prose/poetry defining the equality of sound and music. Within this message, he conveys that music is an acceptable language, even if it is not understood.

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