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Eldad TARMU (b. 1960)
Stained Glass Stories
Eldad Tarmu (vibraphone), Woodwind Quintet
rec. live, in concert, Stony Brook University, Long Island, USA, no date given.
4TAY CD4052 [52:19]

Eldad Tarmu is a vibraphone-player and composer born in Los Angeles, California where he set out in studies for drums and percussion. His Bachelor’s degree is from Tel Aviv University. In 2005 there was a Master's in Afro-Latin Music, from California State University. This coincided with appointment as Head of the Jazz Department at Romania's Timisoara University. In 2009 he returned to the U.S.A. and gained a Masters in Classical Composition from Stony Brook University.

Stained Glass Stories is not Tarmu's first CD. There have been at least two others from the 2000s. They step strongly towards jazz. They are Aluminum Forest and Songs for the Queen of Bohemia. I suspect that boundaries of this sort do not register strongly with Tarmu and the eight tracks on the disc under discussion let us hear his "original contemporary classical compositions". They take the form of chamber music for vibraphone and woodwind. The disc is dedicated to Galya Pillin Tarmu (1926-2015), an artistically uncompromising painter.

Tarmu's, for the most part, tonal music can be heard here. The cool and intricately bubbling Guarding the Queen of Bohemia has about it something of the jazzy (lightly) and joyous liberation of Piston's Second Symphony's finale. Stained Glass Stories and Occupy inhabit a relaxing world of constant undulation which, to my ears, steered close to the music Vernon Elliott wrote for Oliver Postgate's Noggin the Nog. Barefoot Waltz is more in the nature of a dissonant exploration by comparison with the earlier pieces. Caravaggio's shifting melodic input ends as a dignified march in which clouds of ideas move in collision and consonance. The exploratory Pond has a prominent role for vibraphone and with its humorous sudden and loud interjections keeps the audience on its toes. Tip Toe also favours the vibraphone. Its snow-storm of notes and busy pizzicato constantly revels in the conflicting motion of woodwind and vibraphone. Unusually the final track (8 - The Glassblower) was unpredictable on playback. Sometimes it would play though without interruption. At others, towards the end, it halted for a minute or so and then resumed. As music it seemed to delineate a folk-tale. The sense of some fantasy narrative, the detail of which we are not told, is candid.

There are no composer notes with this disc so we do not hear Tarmu's words about these eight scores. We do, however, hear the music and it is very well and forwardly recorded.

Rob Barnett

1. Guarding the Queen of Bohemia [5:12]; 2. Stained Glass Stories [7:00]; 3. Occupy [3:54]; 4. Barefoot Waltz [7:02]; 5. Caravaggio [7:01]; 6. The Pond [7:54]; 7. Tip Toe [8:08]; 8. The Glassblower [6:08]

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