The continual intrigue of creative improvisation is the nature of the combination of instruments which the musicians choose. In Macroscopia, the quartet exists without a drummer. Tom Zlabinger plays bass; Daniel Carter, the trumpet and reeds; Ken Silverman, the guitar, oud and hand percussion, and Claire DeBrunner, the bassoon. Out of the instrumentation comes a striking monotone that flows seamlessly through seven tracks. The ensemble keeps their sound close and controlled; the interaction is mild and unpretentious.
Particularly because of the bassoon, the album assumes the role of a story-telling device, perhaps of silky un-tumultuous movement of weather or of the ocean. It is through the tone and color of this double-reed instrument that the idea of character is built, in contrast to the tight fingering of the guitar or oud, the sad song of a muted trumpet or the elongated notes of the sax, the hiss or metal ticking of handheld percussion instruments or the tempo-seeking of the bass.
With the saxophone, as well, Carter provides a reed counterpoint to the bassoon. The sax sets itself up as the bassoon’s alter ego. Carter creates tender moments that are highlighted with the high pitches of the guitar strings or the brightness of the background percussiveness.
The fourteen minute “Dumbo Twilight” sets a lengthy example for the instrumental explorations that fluidly build up and let go. The trumpet, sax and bassoon exchange places of importance. In actuality, the difference is in the pace at which each is traveling. The bassoon bends into ornamentation and the trumpet steps straightforwardly or the sax stretches notes on its own for awhile. The bass and guitar intertwine their pizzicato moments to support the bassoon, sax and trumpet with delightful ease by just putting themselves in the right place.