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Album Review

Fourth World Quartet – "1975" – [Cuneiform Records]

aarbor   11/3/2021   A Library, CD

The Fourth World Quartet is Ann Arbor’s Miller brothers: Roger, twins Ben and Laurence, plus their school friend Jack Waterstone. This quartet is not a traditional string quartet, or a traditional rock or jazz outfit. Instead Roger plays piano and percussion, Ben plays electric guitar and alto saxophone, Laurence plays bass clarinet, and Jack plays alto saxophone. Lots of reeds plus a guitar vs. piano and percussion. Each member of the quartet has composed at least 1 track on the album. [Track 9] Tnoona is Laurence’s arrangement of a Roscoe Mitchell piece and [Track 11] is Roger’s arrangement of Igor Stravinsky’s Renard the Fox. Transformation of Oz [track 3] was later recorded by Roger’s band Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. Recorded in 1975 and released this year on Cuneiform, this music is both composed and improvised. At the time, as Laurence tells it, they were engaged in freeform rock improvisations and had started their first all-original rock band Sproton Layer in 1969. They would see the MC5 at a free concert in the afternoon, then head over to the University of Michigan to hear Stockhausen at night. This is never-before heard music from a pivotal time period in their music development. The Fourth World Quartet knocks over some serious creative barriers – way ahead of its time. AArbor

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