10-inch, A Library
Live recording from 1981 up in San Francisco, that has aged
as well as these dances themselves. While it seems modern
matachin (or matachine) dances focus on shaker percussion
and steps to match, typically with large throngs of dancers,
here the sound is stripped down and isolated in sentiment.
Kicking around an emotion, rather than kicking up heels.
Garland himself on the gourd rattles here is the *background*
to the dualing violins. The strings move with elegance and
a hint of elegy. Except for the nimble closing sixth piece
and a little rush on #3, the pace is as stately as a
hand-maiden’s parlor. Garland’s compositions stir more sorrow
than dust. One violin will split off counter-harmonically to
the other and then rejoin. The piece dead-icated to John
Lennon is the most lachrymose, but it really has a lasting
beauty to it. The second dance two has a melody that sort of
falls down, and then the gourd lifts it back to its feet.
That was my favorite. All pieces are fairly short, with space
inside and between them that can lead a DJ into tracking them
which is not so bad, as they are all cut of roughly the same
cloth. Speaking of rough, I found an online recording that
had two more grizzled violins doing a matachine, quite
compelling. The dance allegedly may have colonizing roots,
so that online version might be the more indigenous weed
whereas Garland sort of recaptures and recolonizes the source.
Quite a lot to this spare 10″. -Thurston Hunger
Fun fact? One of the violinist has been concertmaster for
Joel Grey, Liberace, Dionne Warwick and Tony Bennett, so now
you’ve got to play it?