(Personal Archives, 2016)
The written word. It’s what I juggle in a seemingly unending cycle, placing nouns and adjectives and verbs and adverbs and prepositions and all kinds of parts of speech in some sort of order that conveys meaning to a reader. It’s how I get across to you, how I explain what it is you’re listening to at any given moment. I seem to like doing that. You can check my posting history if you don’t believe me.
Vernacular String Trio are also interested in conveying meaning – their name begins with “vernacular” after all, a synonym for “dialect,” but it’s also one for “parlance.” It’s as though Parlance were named with the idea in mind to introduce a listening audience to a particular niche of meaning according to Vernacular String Trio. In fact, I’d imagine there’s very little coincidence where intention and execution meet for these three musicians.
The three players – Tracy Andreotti on cello, Alex Cunningham on violin, and Josh Weinstein on bass – place their notes, like I do my words, in an order conveying meaning. The meaning is inherently linked to the virtuosic, jazz-like playing on almost constant display. As such, predetermined intention is almost useless when consuming – the dialect, the phrasing, even the slang of performative interaction is both the delivery method and the language. They are inextricably entangled.
Where meaning exists, then, is where the intention of the players and the reception and decoding of the result by the listener intersect. Vernacular String Trio’s emphasis on experimentation and improvisation and their limitation to the string trio format provide the foundation. Once the listener situates themselves within this paradigm, the nuances of the performances can be revealed over the course of the record. Parlance draws from, as mentioned, jazz, but also classical and even electronic-based styles such as glitch and noise, although the recording and playing is entirely analog.
Once that’s made clear, it’s time to simply allow the trio to create within their particular sandbox, and for the listener, the outcomes are never short of extraordinary. Blasts of concurrent arpeggios and runs of notes overwhelm, and when all three players aren’t carving away at once with their bows, at least one of them is. As you progress through the record, the language between Andreotti, Cunningham, and Weinstein emerges, and the meaning of their playing is thick within the room where they’ve recorded. They are truly in communication with each other, and their parlance, their vernacular, their specific dialect is never more clear.
Parlance succeeds partly because of this, and partly because it’s a joy to behold. It’s easy to lose yourself in, but it’s just as easy to dissect from a technical standpoint as you’re amazed by one passage or another. The intertwining of Vernacular String Trio, as three minds in one room, becomes an elemental force of musical output, note after rapid note.