NATIONAL PARKS (MonotypeRec, 2013)
Occupying the sonic netherworld where improvised music brushes up against electronics and New music inferences share space with extended techniques, National Parks consists of 10 mini tone poems meant to reflect iconic mid 20th century poster representations of American national parks. While the program music linkages may appear moderately ambiguous in this context, the CD’s strength lies in accepting the contrasts implicit in attempting such a project.
Oddly enough as well, despite the U.S. orientation, only one of the participants is an American. That’s Chicago-based pianist D Bayne, whose day job is with Rock band Cheer Accident. Berlin-based tenor and baritone saxophonist Boris Hauf has lived in Chicago, but most of his affiliations are with Viennese reductionist ensembles such as efzeg. Lending his talents as sound mixer and electronics insinuator to Postmarks on this CD is guitarist Martin Siewert, a member of other bands such as Trapist. Because of this admixture each of the tracks here usually pulsates atop or alongside an intermittent electronic ostinato set up by Siewert, with Hauf’s breathy reed multiphonics and Bayne’s more formalized, bordering-on-so-called classical piano chording setting up the contrasts that finally meld satisfactorily.
Most noteworthy are those lengthier tracks which deviate enough from normative strictures to establish individualism. Instructively they’re usually tunes where Hauf’s reed timbres snort, honk and slur with near mainstream expansions. For instance “Bryce Canyon at Dawn” comes across as if someone had captured on tape Hard Bop baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams jamming with Cagean pianist David Tudor. Here especially snapping electronic ratchets and drones deepen rather than distract from the central duet. Meantime the dyspeptic “Hubbell Trading Post at Dusk” could be set in a night club in a Blade Runner-styled universe, as honky-tonk tenor sax smears and pounding R&B-like piano lines are intercut with the whirling pulses of what could be a flying saucer launch. Granular synthesis of wave forms thump and judder alongside cascading keyboard lines and smeary sax vibrations on the related “Hubbell Trading Post at Dawn”, with straightforward pianism maintaining the swaying beat.
By the CD’s conclusion, the push-and-pull among the different acoustic and processed timbres has reached a point of congruence. As sequences of metronomic piano lines, altissimo reed emphasis and guitar-like licks deconstruct into atoms and then are regrouped into logical narratives, a telling aural picture is revealed. Adventurous travellers with sonic space experience will likely want to camp out for a time within these National Parks.
— Ken Waxman
Guided trips through ruins or a visit to Thor’s hammer at sunset point or some paradise in the pines…! That’s not the beginning of a raving review, but I’m just quoting some bizarre slogans to advert some U.S. national parks between 30ies and 40ies by drawings and images, which sometimes seems to have been designed by cartoonist, who were fully aware about the importance of images after the Great Depression.
This specific branch of advertising poster art, which got unavoidably influenced by rather conservative arts whose “cultural” role was the amalgamation of conservative feelings under the delicate historical period of the New Deal and its external anti-capitalist “turbulences”, has been the bizarre inspirational forage for Postmarks, an interesting improv/avant-jazz duo, whose capricious legs – the Chicago-based American pianist D.Bayne and Austrian saxophonist Boris Hauf contrived a way to translate those iconic posters into a style, which sometimes seems to reprise single clauses of old jazz tunes (even if the main jazz icon who comes to mind are mainly Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy) as well as the tuxedoed “feel” of those strange years in-between two world wars.
Hauf’s saxophone jumps over reminiscent motifs and moody ditties (cult bluesy jazz followers will recognize many topical melodies in tracks like the nice “Hubbell Trading Post at Dawn”, “Gila Cliff Dwellings” or the stunning final track “Capitol Reef at Dawn”, the one I like more) where Bayne’s piano seems to loom over it by strokes, which interchange oppressive, wiry, somber or histerically lightweight moments. Occasional anomalies such as puffs, electric squeaks, almost stressful or ominous tonal stretches, melodic burns by screeched guitar strings and other sonic obliquities pleat the musical stream by turning the listening experience that Postmarks and guitar-experimentalist Martin Siewert (Trapist, Efzeg, The Year Of), who took part to recording sessions in Wien as a precious accomplice, offered somehow adventurous and noir-spotted!
All About Jazz
The duo Postmarks consists of London-born Austrian saxophonist Boris Hauf and the Chicago-based American pianist D Bayne. Their first CD Western Ave (Luminescence, 2005) was a limited-edition of only one hundred copies packaged in unique covers, each a handcrafted collage from twenties Chicago postcards. For National Parks, the duo went to Vienna to record with experimental guitarist Martin Siewert, maybe best known for his work with Trapist or in Hauf’s Efzeg. The outlines for the ten pieces the three recorded were composed by Hauf and Bayne, and inspired by U.S. national parks and their representation on posters from the thirties and forties.
Without veering too close to programme music, the pieces clearly display the influence of the material that inspired them. They are gently melodious and have a mellow tranquillity that is easy on the ear without risking becoming soporific. Occasionally there are traces that the two have been mindful of the thirties/forties origins of the posters, most obviously in Hauf’s sax work. For instance, his rising phrase that opens “Hubbell Trading Post at dusk” sounds borrowed from the big band era and will have many listeners racking their brains for its inspiration. Three of the pieces appear in two versions—distinguished as “at dawn” and “at dusk”—and comparison of these reveal that the compositions are not prescriptive but allow the players considerable leeway for interpretation and improvisation, to the extent that—at over eleven minutes—”Hubbell Trading Post at dawn” is over twice the length of “Hubbell Trading Post at dusk.”
As the inspiration for the music was a combination of nature (the parks) and nostalgia (the posters), the choice of Siewert as a guest player with the duo was an intriguing one, maybe signaling that Hauf and Bayne were seeking to avoid the music becoming overly pastoral or nostalgic. If that was the intention, Siewert—with his minimalist style and use of electronics—was a good choice to help steer the music clear of such things. In practice, Siewert plays a typically understated role, contributing just enough coloration to brand this as twenty-first century music; for instance his judicious injections of electronic noise clearly brand it as neither pastoral nor nostalgic. An inspired choice by Postmarks.
The beautifully designed digital collages that adorn this release, each reworking elements of 1920s posters advertising American national parks, apparently inspired musical outlines for the eight pieces here. Postmarks are the pianist D Bayne and the saxophonist Boris Hauf, who on this, their second album, are joined in places by the Viennese guitar experimentalist Martin Siewert. On the whole these are slow, moodily beautiful piano and sax improvisations, with Bayne’s forthright, oftener minimally repetitive piano providing a framework over which Hauf drifts smoky, semi-melodic lines. Siewert’s contributions are few and far between, but add an abstract electronic coloring that does just enough to keep the album, away form middle ground jazziness. Difficult to firmly categorizes, National Parks often veers close to tuneful politeness but retains an atonal edge throughout that undermines everything and provides a nervous and intriguing quality to the music.
— The Wire
We like the music of saxophonist Boris Hauf, as can be read on previous reviews here. On these albums Hauf demonstrated his skill to create a sonic mood, a coherent environment sculpted with sound. On “National Parks” he is accompanied by D Bayne on piano and by Martin Siewert on guitar.
The music is inspired by the posters for US national parks from the 1930s and 1940s, which strangely add the dual color of evocating nature, while at the same time coloring with sentiments of bygone days.
The music is quiet, well-paced, subtle, beautiful, not cheerful but also not really sad, but rather solemn and light-hearted, if that is possible, and then Siewert draws a solid nail through the musical poster, ripping every sentiment of comfort you may have had.
Some of the tracks are real miniatures, short often minimalist pieces full of finesse and interesting playing, and they are as good as the longer pieces, which are on the second part of the album, with more room to develop the ideas while at the same time allowing for more emotional depth.
In a way you could qualify the music as free jazz impressionism, because of its concept and its accessibility and obvious beauty on the surface level, yet at the same time, the music remains open-ended, like nothing is definitive, with more abstract threads of sounds left unraveled, as if there is a question mark behind it all, and with some darker undercurrents, something fearful and unexplained, mayby unexplainable, hidden in the invisible parts of the scenes yet present, or with traces of the past somehow still lingering, only to be caught with sound, with repetitive arpeggios, slightly bending notes on the sax and screeching guitar sounds.
On “National Parks” Postmarks reflect upon the appearance of various U.S. national parks and their representation on posters of the 1930s and 40s. Still, even without this background knowledge, the extemporization of this classic sax/piano line-up is impeccable.
Auf “National Parks” reflektieren Postmarks das Erscheinungsbild diverser US-Nationalparks unter Berücksichtigung ihrer Darstellung auf Plakaten der 1930er und 40er Jahre. Dieser inhaltliche Background spiegelt sich freilich in einem Saxofon-Klavier-Duo höchstens rudimentär wider, wenn überhaupt. Und auch ohne das Wissen darum funktioniert die Extemporierung der klassischen Besetzung hinaus ins freie Feld tadellos.
— felix freistil.klingt.org
Boris Hauf (saxophones) and D Bayne (piano) are Postmarks – assisted here by guitarist Marin Siewert who superimposes a layer of static electricity in intimate dialogue with the acoustic instruments. Inspired by America’s national parks and the way in which they were represented on postcards of the 30s, the album is full of lyrical passages that enhance a sound material organized with rigor and intelligence. (7)
— M. Busti, Blow Up
Postmarks is a duo of Boris Hauf (baritone and tenor sax) and Dudley Bayne (piano), with Martin Siewert (guitar, electronics) as a guest performer. Hauf is a Berlin-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and performer. From regular visits to Chicago came a collaboration with pianist Dudley Bayne. In 2005 they released their first album, ‘Western Ave’ on Luminescense Records. For their second recording they went to Vienna and invited Siewert as a guest performer. For their improvisations they choose for a very specific source of inspiration: “US national parks and their representation in iconic posters from the 1930s and 1940s”. Ex-Efzeg player Hauf is presented on over 40 albums. Can’t tell you much about D.Bayne’s, except that he is member of Chicago Sound Map. Their improvisations were not very convincing in my ears. I missed a tightness and sharpness that makes me forget questions like ‘Why do they take that direction and not another one?’ Alas, several of these questions came to my mind while listening to these meandering and a bit pointless improvisations.
— vitalweekly (DM)
monsieur delire (Francois Couture)
Second CD from Postmarks – pianist D Bayne and sax player Boris Hauf (ex-Efzeg, among other projects) – with guest Martin Siewert on guitar and electronics. Delicate, thoughtful, quiet improvisations (they were in part pre-planned from what I understand), rich in abstraction. From time to time, an electronic tone cuts through, allowing the listener to refocus his attention, which tends to start wandering during this record. Not entirely convincing, but an interesting release.
Le son de grisli
They are inspired by maps Americans national parks published in the 1930s and 1940s – to each his scores – saxophonist Boris Hauf and pianist D Bayne made the trip to Vienna for Martin Siewert recorded their project – the Austrian may also intervene on guitar or electronics. A slow saxophone, timid and defeats piano notes and feedback Tension: So much for the opening ballad disgrace what Bandelier National, which does not communicate its nonchalance parts which follow. Is that the pianist has decided otherwise: borrowed, that he abuses Accessories interventions, arpeggios harped or leaks without ideas. And as Hauf follows suit while Siewert is not far from silent, we are eager to finish.
Le son de grisli (Guillaume Belhomme)
WESTERN AVE (lumincesence records, 2012)
Downtown Music Gallery
POSTMARKS [DUDLEY BAYNE/BORIS HAUF] – Western Ave [ltd #d of 100 copies] (Luminescence LIVE 05; USA) [ltd ed CD-R] Featuring Boris Hauf on tenor sax and Dudley Bayne on piano. Berlin based saxist Boris Hauf has a fine sextet disc out on Clean Feed and has worked with both European musicians like Martin Siewert, Burkhard Stangl and Werner Dafeldecker as well as some Chicago-based players: Jason Stein, Keefe Jackson and Frank Rosaly. Pianist D Bayne runs the Luminescence label which previously released a fine sextet disc with Bayne as the leader. Although Mr. Hauf does play electronics in his other collaborations, this is not the case here as this is an all acoustic duo. The music is all improvised and has a warm, thoughtful charm on the first piece. The music gets darker and more turbulent on the second piece, “Lawndale”. “Garfield Park Conservatory” has a lovely, laid-back vibe with sensuous, breathy tenor and elegant piano. Mr. Bayne sounds as if he is playing an upright piano from an older era yet it feels just right. It sounds at times as if he is playing a harp the way an angel plays one, heavenly. Sublime and gently hypnotic. It actually sounds as if they are playing some standard in a bar where the atmosphere is filled with smoke and somber vibes. One of the more hypnotic discs I’ve heard recently and evocative of late-night dreamworld vibes.
— Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery