|| Joel Futterman Quartet
Vision in Time
Cat. No.: SHCD125
Joel Futterman piano
Joseph Jarman tenor sax, bass clarinet
Richard Davis bass
Robert Adkins drums
1. Reality on Edge (Joel Futterman) 9:50
2. Talking With You (Joel Futterman) 10:19
3. Vision in Time (Joel Futterman) 8:12
4. There is a Smile (for Jimmy Lyons) (Joel Futterman) 9:01
5. I Never Knew Her Name (Joel Futterman) 4:29
6. I Remember (Joel Futterman) 15:26
7. Round Two (Joel Futterman) 12:37
Total time: 69:31
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"Futterman's piano sound is the result of having the strongest left hand
technique in the business coupled with a unique three-hand technique developed
while working in isolation for the past two decades. For me, though, the beauty
of Futterman's approach is that his technique is always contained within the music,
serving as a conduit for the development of ideas, and not used as a display of
Paul Niles, Jazz Review and Collector's Discography, March 1992
Improvised music is a warehouse full of paradoxes. Among them is the sense that
this music, which promotes freedom and personal expression like no constitutional
amendment ever did, is nevertheless governed by a set of clubhouse rules that
often seem downright draconian.
Joel Futterman, who has been making music for a long time, with a 23 year involvement
in New Music alone, is an individual whose career is well delineated by a healthy
neglect for those rules. Currently working in theVirgina tidewater area, having
forsaken the prototypical urban center, he is continually forging a music that
is made with an early Ornette-like sense of separation from the neighborhood of
creative and nurturing forces. As with Coleman, Futterman's music is indelibly
his own, and has clearly and of necessity been reached through a continual and
deeply-held belief in himself.
It cannot be simple or easy to develop the urgent, frankly communal forms often
found in New Music, while maintaining such a creative life apart. In truth, Futterman
is not entirely alone in his work, for he enjoys a luxury almost as dear as his
self reliance that of a close and constant collaborator, Robert Adkins,
who is the drummer on this recording. The bond that these two have achieved through
their years of work together would be precious in any setting, but is especially
focused, vital and well-kept in its own context. Getting to hear the output of
this collaboration is as great an opportunity as that of the two being able to
bear down consistently on a shared vision, in lieu of working more intermittently
with a wider circle of musicians.
If anything, though, this work is under-documented. Vision in Time represents
the first recorded venture forth for the pianist and drummer since 1984's Inneraction,
made with bassist Richard Davis and the late altoist Jimmy Lyons. That record
proved to be Lyons' last date, a turn which had a deep effect on both Futterman
and Adkins. Both speak of Lyons, to this day, incredulous that they encountered
such a touchstone and kindred spirit, let alone that he's now departed. He is
remembered here with the dedication of "There is a Smile".
Having established a working closeness on his last recording, Futterman met with
producer Philip Egert in 1988 and set about recapturing that quality in a follow-up
quartet session, again with bassist Davis. The leader then contacted fellow former
Chicagoan, Joseph Jarman, having written the music for this date with tenor sax
and bass clarinet in mind, both prominent weapons in Jarman's arsenal of things
great and small. Adkins, of course, was equally committed to recording in this
setting. He had met up with New Music when he met up with Futterman in 1974, after
years of paying a surprising variety of straightahead dues with well knowns at
home and abroad. He hasn't spared any effort in his development since. And, as
is now especially evident, he has mastered the rigors of playing free time with
The way in which the quartet was formed for this recording is a measure of the
acknowledgement given Futterman, despite his years of removal from the larger
music making community. Jarman, a man of keen insight and curiosity, became interested
in the project despite his being unfamiliar with Futterman's most recent work,
and was furnished scores in advance of the date. Davis, with customary elegance
and assurance, agreed to fly in for the recording the moment the subject was broached.
His admiration for Futterman's abilities and his offer of artistic support and
fellowship (which is not lightly given) date back to his musical introduction
to the leader some years ago. As to the present day, the ease of wresting Davis
from the embrace of the American heartland for this recording was likely occasioned
by a warm remembrance for the freedoms of the previous quartet project, and by
his continued appreciation for the company of a player who shares his breadth
of experience and length of service to the foundations of improvised music.
Indeed, as Futterman warms up the studio piano, it's clear that he is the master
of many possibilities, some familiar; some, as Jon Hendricks would say, "unforeheard".
When an artist of such range focuses on making a music that is continually new
to his vision and capabilities, it's clear that such art is completely of necessity,
and that it will be made regardless of the opportunity to record it. The pianist,
who has miles of ideas waiting to be brought to sound, nevertheless has made the
most of this occasion, and has fashioned the music into a distinct and evolutionary
statement by changing some parameters from past work. Vision in Time represents
a more fully compositional effort for Futterman, and the compositions are of a
relatively concise and discrete nature, as opposed to the extended format of Inneraction.
Some multiple takes were made during the recording (running the risk of countering
the freshness of the first take), and if the ensemble sounds close enough to have
had the privilege of rehearsals, it is because the vital axis of this quartet,
Futterman and Adkins, have been in rehearsal for all those years near the shore.
This undisturbed unity between the two men is clearly the great reward for their
having kept faith apart from the bigger climates. They navigate the charged, dense
structures of these New Music forms with complete and singular clarity, which
should be a revelation to the listener. This clarity, obviously hatched from a
distinction of purpose, is an empowerment that can help clear the way to higher
ground for both artist and listener.
Thankfully, New Music is still the riskiest music in town to create, and when
the risks are taken with such care and experience, they can be made irresistable
to us. When the fruit of the risks is expressed with such clarity, we can be certain
that when the notes have disappeared, as Dolphy said, into the air, we will have
heard and been affected by them all.
William Tandy Young
November 8, 1989
THE CAULDRON/TING(50): The lower trigram is SUN (wood and wind) and the upper
trigram is LI (flame). Together they suggest the idea of preparing food, the fostering
and nourishing of able men and consequentially the benefit of the state. Here
it is the wood which serves as nourishment for the flame, the spirit. All that
is visible grows beyond itself, extending into the realm of the invisible, to
take firm root in the cosmic order where it gains clarity and receives its true
The changing line in the third place describes a man in a highly evolved civilization
who find himself where no one recognizes him and he is unnoticed. This is a severe
block to his effectiveness and his good qualities and talents go needlessly to
waste. But if he will only see to it that he is possessed of something truly spiritual
the time will come, sooner or later, when the difficulties will be resolved, tension
will be released and all will go well.
The changing line at the top describes a counsel which, in relation to the man
who is open to it, works greatly to his advantage. This counsel is described in
relation to the sage who imparts it and, in imparting it, he will be mild and
pure. His work finds favor in the eyes of the Diety, who dispenses great good
fortune, and the work becomes pleasing to men and all goes well as a result.
Due to the changing lines, this hexagram becomes Deliverance/Hsieh(40), as follows.
DELIVERANCE/HSIEH(40): The lower trigram is K'AN (water) and the upper trigram
is CHEN (thunder). Together they suggest the idea of release and deliverance.
The hexagram describes a man who produces the effect of clearing the air when
dealing with the transgressions of men which induce a condition of tension; he
does not dwell on them but simply passes over them and forgives, just as thunder
dies away and water washes everything clean. The obstacles have been removed and
difficulties are being resolved. Deliverance is just at its beginning, it is not
Commentary: Occasionally in the hexagrams there is a correspondence between the
first and fourth lines. A yielding, or broken, first line with a strong fourth
line is the case in both The Cauldron/Ting(50) and Deliverance/Hsieh(40), and
this indicates a tendency towards intimacy with inferior persons, which should
THE I CHING or Book of Changes: the Richard Wilhelm translation rendered into
English by Cary E Baynes. Bollingen Series No.19, Princeton University Press,
ninth printing, August 1972.