Lentz: Point Conception, Nightbreaker / Bryan Pezzone, Arlene Dunlap

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LENTZ Point Conception. 1 NightBreaker 2 • Arlene Dunap (pn); 1 Bryn Pezzone (pn) 2 • COLD BLUE 28 (46:22) Daniel Lentz was particularly active...

LENTZ Point Conception. 1 NightBreaker 2 Arlene Dunap (pn); 1 Bryn Pezzone (pn) 2 COLD BLUE 28 (46:22)

Daniel Lentz was particularly active and visible in the 1970s and 1980s, as one of the leading California composers of a Minimalist stamp. If Ingram Marshall was the moody, soulful voice of the Bay Area, with its fogs and mists, Lentz (b. 1942) was the L.A. freeway on overdrive: bright, edgy, poppy sounds and rhythms hammered about by mostly electronic keyboards. The music, with its sudden (and often) changes of harmony, felt like a sort of cubistic Minimalism. And its sound was unforgettable.

Of course the music lives on. I’m only using the past tense because Lentz seems to have dropped out of the scene (I’ll emphasize “seems” because it’s so easy to be contradicted by life). On the Web, the last mentioned piece comes from about 10 years ago, and there’s a cryptic reference to his current work of building kinetic sound-sculptures. I’d certainly be eager to experience whatever he’s whipping up now.

This disc contains one masterwork, Point Conception (1979). It’s a piece for nine pianos, but I doubt it’s really meant ever to be done live. Instead, this version is a multitracking of one player. What makes the piece quite ingenious is that each part plays nothing but octaves, often focused on one pitch. But when combined together, like the dots of a pointillist painting, the result can be dazzling. Aside from the technical trick, this is powerful stuff. The music clocks in at about 37 minutes, and it never lets up. There’s a sense that at each plateau, which could be an ending, the piece picks itself up, takes a breath, and then leaps to a greater height. Its energy and interest never flag.

Nightbreaker is from 1990. It’s a quarter the length of Point Conception , and it starts off as much more languid and jazzy. It picks up the pace, though, to reach a certain frenzy by the end. I would call it a sketch for the larger work, except that it’s a decade later—so perhaps we can call it a fragment from the workbench instead. In any case, it’s appealing; but it pales somewhat in comparison to its big brother.

Point Conception was released by Cold Blue on an LP about two decades ago, and its return in the remastered version is most welcome. Nightbreaker is a premiere recording. Both pieces help to round out our sense of a somewhat mysterious voice in the American progressive music tradition, who I frankly hope still has an act or two left in him.

FANFARE: Robert Carl

Product Description:

  • Release Date: November 01, 2008

  • UPC: 800413002826

  • Catalog Number: CB0028

  • Label: Cold Blue Music

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Daniel Lentz

  • Performer: Arlene Dunlap, Bryan Pezzone