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Kaiser & Diaz-Infante
Jeff Kaiser & Ernesto Diaz-Infante
Pith Balls and Inclined Planes


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I just did a rough search, and my guesstimate is that Ernesto Diaz-Infante is on no fewer than 10 CDs that have been reviewed here at Splendid over the last few years. That's pretty impressive by itself, but even more impressive is the fact that most of those CDs got very positive reviews! I've heard quite a bit of Diaz-Infante's music, and have liked a lot of it, so I was exited when a new CD of his showed up in the mail.

I'm not disappointed. This time out it's Jeff Kaiser on trumpet, flugelhorn, electronics and voice, and Diaz-Infante on acoustic guitar and voice. Kaiser is very active in the Southern California new music scene, and has played with people like Eugene Chadbourne, Brad Dutz and Vinnie Golia.

The music on Pith Balls and Inclined Planes is thoroughly improvised and has the kind of nervous, excited energy that is often found when accomplished players manage to let go and have fun together. Much of the music exists in that interesting space where it's not entirely clear what's acoustic and what's electronic, what's an accident and what was carefully planned, or at least imagined.

There are seven tracks on Pith Balls and Inclined Planes, all sharing a hyper, busy vibe. Some of them, like "Outside, Three Tennis Courts" sound like they were recorded live, while others clearly went through a fair amount of post-production sampling, manipulation and mixing. That hasn't dulled their effect, though, and Kaiser (who did all of the computer work) has managed to sustain the music's energy throughout the album.

This sort of non-jazz improvised music scares some people off, probably because it often ends up being a lot more interesting for the performers than it is for the listeners. Thankfully that's not a problem here -- the music is consistently engaging, evocative and just plain fun.

-- irving bellemead

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