One Track Mind: Tom Cora "Gumption In Limbo (The Four-Limbed Approach)" (1986)

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Back in, oh, October of last year I got a wild hair and raved on a free form electrified cello performance by that late, lamented demon of the bowed bass, Tom Cora. The name of the stringed stream of conscienceness was called “Halleluhjah Anyway.” Back then, I made mention of the track that came before it:

There are other astonishing performances from this date; shoot, “Gumption In Limbo” is probably better still. But “Halleluhjah Anyway” is more delightfully reckless.

Lately, that’s got me thinking: if “Gumption” is “probably” better, then why not rave on that one, too?

OK, then, here we go:

One of the few documents of the late cellist’s mad genius through his devil-may-care approach to his instrument. Cora was especially on his game in a solo live performance, armed with his plugged in bowed bass and improvising all out. He begins by making his instrument sound like a giant rubber band, then pulls out the bow and attacks it with simultaneous reckless abandon and deadly precision, coaxing the strangest sounds ever to come from such a well-mannered apparatus. He plucks from seemingly every position along the strings, including the other side of the bridge. The lurching from one random idea to another is like twiddling the tuning knob of a stereo receiver. An amazing performance that speaks just as much about the creative mind of the performer as it does his technical skills.

Or put another way, it will blow your mind. Just as track that comes immediately after it would.

Purchase: Tom Cora – Live at the Western Front

“One Track Mind” is a more-or-less weekly drool over a single song selected on a whim and a short thesis on why you should be drooling over it, too.

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