“Isotope” (Joe Henderson)

The variation in (atomic) number has a certain gravity and weight—of neutral or non-charges merely taking up (mental) space—which weighs heavily on the (social) scientific; it’s not totally a matter of numbers or whether majority/minority status should be instrumental but, rather, an opportunity to recalibrate and voice anew how the standard element is merely more common in particular localities. Tenor attempts a few strategies to test out spacing and position of minority embodiment: interjecting sixteenth-notes in eighth-note runs, overblowing during faster runs, and swinging without melody; and even though Tyner’s piano swings strongly, it also hesitates near its solo’s end with a three-note spike, injecting discomfort. Ending with doubled piano/tenor restatement of head—in more melodic terms—chemistry, in the form of the ceaseless experimentation without expectation, survives by de-anticipating gradualist structural development.


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“Fundamental Frequency” (Toots Thielemans)

While the bass solo in this bop tune equals the combined time of the intro and ending, the three primary soloists have roughly the same amount of solo time: harmonica (61 seconds), sax (65), and piano (72). The BPM ambles if compared to more extreme examples of the genre. While the harmonica may be a non-standard jazz instrument, there are precedents (and heirs). Those are the particulars, as far as frequency and fundamentals go. Thielemans is probably more concerned with the spacing of the band, often pushing back against organizational and operational structures and a strict sense of time. The playful coupling and teasing of the introduction—harmonica partnering up with the other soloists sequentially—for example. And the harmonica’s carry-over from the intro to its solo magnifies the case. Frequency as a given variable. Fundamental: the foundation, the (shifting) root of a chord, and the sounding/vibration of a body.


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