Great Waitress, 2016
25-plus years ago, when I was busy first catching on to full-throated, European free jazz, I never would have expected my loves of drone and improvisation to meet. Whether it's the influence of electronica, electroacoustic composition, the Japanese onkyo or lowercase ambient scene, there is now a rich underground of slow motion, low-volume, abstract improvisation. While it shares some superficial qualities with ambient or new age, it's far too tense to qualify. If we really wanted to get to the roots of it, of course AMM are obviously originators, but we'd also have to look toward Cluster's early kosmische rumblings.
When I first heard Hue, from the trio of women who make up Great Waitress, I thought of Cluster first. There's a patient, graceful mystery to these tracks that makes this uniquely appealing. While instrumentation is one key to their distinction—pairing clarinet and accordion with piano—it doesn't even begin to explain their sound. The piano is often either played from the inside or 'prepared' (in a Cage-ian sense). The woodwind seems to be amplified, and toying at times with feedback. The accordionist lays a reedy bed of microtonal drones. Hue is an album filled with complex sounds and thoughtful, restrained action. I hope to hear more.