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Varistar: Varistar

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Three men. Three instruments. Cornet, Tuba, Guitar. It would seem these instruments do not even go together. However, Varistar, a trio, is ambitious and courageous because even recordings with more modern instrumentation have problems filling up the space, making a complete statement that does not lose the listener. You might get lost in this but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It would have to be your desire because this music doesn’t slap you, or grab you by the throat; it simply is. Play it and do not think too hard; they are doing the thinking.

A certain direction isn’t the point with Varistar, because it seems to all happen in the moment, epic call and response. Some cornet here, the tuba low and below; the guitar wavering almost invisible at times. The music is lengthy and not particularly inviting. Instantaneous movement. Music for cloudy days with heavy traffic that isn’t moving, but you wait.

Bobby Bradford on cornet is heard most of all but that is mostly because cornet is simply the most sonic of the instruments here. Tom Heasley’s tuba on Varistar is back to what it always did in music: it is the bottom, the rhythm. Ken Rosser is back there somewhere on guitar and effects.

In all honesty, I preferred more. The improvisation is grand but slow. The music flirts with cohesion but ultimately it actually should have been more courageous and less dense. “Crooked March,” the shortest piece on the album is seemingly formless but it works. Heasley’s tuba recalls marching bands but it is hardly overt. ” “Varistar” works as well as though it drags along, the changes are multiple; this more than any other seems to suggest they made it through it all.

Originally Published