Covering Arthur Russell On Bassoon

Katherine Young i

Katherine Young. Matthew Billings hide caption

toggle caption Matthew Billings
Katherine Young

Katherine Young.

Matthew Billings

Before a crowd of literally less than 10, trumpeter Jacob Wick and bassoonist Katherine Young performed solo sets at The Fridge in Washington, D.C. The art gallery can be loud and boomy when empty, which especially gave Wick an extra oomph behind sputters and intense breathing as he pulled the valves out of the trumpet. It was a continuous piece that took a while to digest, but rounded in a nice arc.

But I was curious about Katherine Young. Last year's Future Secret Origins featured solo compositions for bassoon and effects, which, like her performance, is neither showy or totally reliant on electronics. The tutelage of Anthony Braxton (she performs in his Falling Rivers Quartet) comes through in shades, never a mirror.

The surprise of the evening was a cover, not of Monk or whatever it is a bassoonist might interpret, but of Arthur Russell. "Soon to be Innocent Fun" is a personal favorite of mine, so as she pulled the sheet music forward, I sat forward, eager at how a bassoon translates a simple and beautifully monotone song for cello like "Soon to be Innocent Fun." I took a video of it on my phone, but thankfully, I found a better quality video online.

And a downloadable recording from WFMU/Free Music Archive:

The interest doesn't lie so much in the bassoon — though those glorious bass notes did rattle the heart — but how Young clasps Russell's vocal flutter and effortlessly tugged cello in one continuous thought. It's one of the better Russell covers I've heard in recent years and makes me wonder if more in the improvising community could look more to the minimalist pop music from World of Echo.

Here's the original, just because everyone should hear it at least once.


Katherine Young and Jacob Wick are currently on an East Coast tour.

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