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Field, Ken: Under the Skin

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Album Review

Ken Field has been a respected part of the Boston experimental music scene for years, with his nearly two-decade membership in Erik Lindgren's Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and long-running radio show The New Edge on MIT's college station WMBR. His rare solo records occasionally seem like afterthoughts in the saxophonist's busy creative life, but Under the Skin, his first solo record since 1999's Pictures of Motion, is one of his most enjoyable and immediately accessible works. Written on commission for a New York dance company's show mixing video and live performance, Under the Skin was written and performed in a similar fashion: Field pre-recorded himself playing with the rhythm section of bassist Jesse Williams and drummer Phil Neighbors, often overdubbing several saxophone parts on top of each other, then performed live tenor sax solos over the tapes during performances. These eight brief pieces (none breaking five minutes) are lyrical and melodic, many with haunting cyclical rhythmic figures built up through Field's overdubbed saxes in a way that occasionally recalls both Philip Glass' Glassworks and Fripp & Eno's conceptually similar '70s work. Elsewhere, "Om on the Range" builds slowly on top of an intoxicating, almost Indian (in both the South Asian and Southwestern American sense) percussion figure, and the closing "Slits in the Curtain" is a playful, surprisingly funky bit of soul-jazz groove.

Biography

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Multi-instrumentalist Ken Field is a saxophonist, flutist, percussionist, and composer. Since the late '80s, Field has plied his trade in the experimental ensemble Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. He appears on a few of their releases and has toured extensively with the group. His solo discography beings with Subterranea (O.O.Discs), which exhibits multi-tracked saxophone improvisations. Field recorded this project largely in a Roswell, NM, underground chamber. He performed for President Bill Clinton,...
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Field, Ken: Under the Skin, Ken Field
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