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Dickie Landry: Fifteen Saxophones

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Recorded in 1974 and originally released in 1977 on Northern Lights, Fifteen Saxophones brings to mind the era of minimalism which stretched from the mid-sixties through the mid-seventies. Minimal music, like minimal art, may be executed on a large scale, ideologically direct and invariably subtle in its changing and repeated forms.

Even if likened to past practice, associated with Philip Glass with whom Landry worked, or appreciated for its effect in the context of the present experimental or improvised music, Landry’s music holds its own place. The content is rich, examines a minor key indicative of human frailty and emotion and has no pretense of being technological, even though the tools for generating the majority of sound are. Re-releases of recordings are good lessons in re-visiting the music that was written in a different space and time. The original can never be forced back into the same place it came from because culture evolves between then and now.

In this record, the first and second pieces act like sonic bellows. One uniform sound, with overtones spiraling out in the most extraterrestrial way, is expelled slowly, turning gradually into something else. And, then almost in an instant, the pieces are done.

“Kitchen Solos” commands the recording. It is unavoidably acoustical, replete with fanfare, chorus and reverberation. The sound waves can be imagined as colliding and blending into one another, becoming larger, all-encompassing and embracing. The tonalities move from high to low in front of a backdrop of seemingly endless repetitions of the same notes or phrases, which themselves become the forerunners to the piece. And then an entirely new emphasis arises, which eventually extinguishes itself in the same way that it was lit, having transformed remarkably over a period of twenty minutes. Landry is the sole performer.

Originally Published