Let's face it, the double bass has suffered a bit in the mp3 era. On tinny computer speakers amidst a midrangey wash of compression, the deep grass-fed tones of a bowed or plucked bass often go missing.
Not so for Reuben Radding, who might as well be playing the trunk of a redwood or a viking ship. His burly tone cuts clean through in all formats, whether bowing, plucking, scraping, bending, tapping or any other onomatopoeic approach he chooses to render. Which is one reason his Pine Ear label's just-wrapped "12 in 2007" project is worth perusing: a free mp3 album-length download for each month of 2007 featuring an impressive cast of premier improvisors like Jack Wright, Weasel Walter, and Nate Wooley. (Act fast! Reuben says the tracks will only be up for another month or two due to server space issues and the agreements he has with some of the players.)
While all twelve collections have their moments (and, naturally, some missteps), perhaps the most welcome surprise is the trio with Jacob Wick on trumpet and Andrew Greenwald on drums, two fresh young improvisors who continually push Reuben and each other into the big empty spaces, using swaths of silence, extreme dynamics, and otherworldly-sounding techniques to build a series of compelling moments. At points, Radding's bass makes haunting stretching sounds, as if the instrument's ancient wood may split and shatter into a pile on the floor. This band seems to be a going concern rather than a one-off meeting, as they completed a short tour in December.
Most of the recordings for "12 in 2007" were done at Reuben's own studio STATS in Brooklyn, and are well recorded. The atmosphere sounds loose and experimental. Here's hoping Reuben continues to assemble and press 'record' on a rotating cast of improvisors in '08.
A couple MP3s from "12 in 2007":