Friday, June 24, 2016

Twenty One 4Tet, Live at Zaal 100

Who are the Twenty-One 4Tet? If you have to ask, you are probably like me, Stateside, needing to fill out your knowledge of Euro-Avant jazz today. They are the nicely aggregated foursome of Luis Vicente on trumpet, John Dikeman on tenor sax, Wilbert De Joode on double bass and Onno Govaert on drums. I've been listening with great interest to their recent CD Live at Zaal 100 (Clean Feed 366).

It is free-wheeling dynamic avant jazz that holds its own by advancing into the future while also showing new thing roots in paying respects to Ornette, Cherry, Shepp, Ayler and other classic free jazz pioneers.

Trumpeter Luis Vicente is the more familiar artist in the quartet, at least for those of us in the US. He sounds wonderful throughout: articulate, fire-y, filled with great ideas and the chops to make them ring out.

John Dikeman is a tenor man with that big extended sound, massive slurs and swoops, harmonics and a hugely soulful sound.

Wilbert De Joode is the complete bassist, whether in arco or pizzicato mode, an anchor and a prime mover in the forward motion of the 4Tet. And Onno Govaert plays in the advanced free style with imagination and catalytic drive. He has that abruptly contrapuntal extended sound range that somehow marks many of the Euro-free percussionists, and he does it quite well. It stimulates the 4Tet to advance timbrally and pontillistically.

It's the way the four work as a whole that makes this especially good. Their collective layering takes on many moods and colors. It marks the extended imaginations of the best collectives out there. They are one of them, as this recording evidences.

If you are on the outside track in free listening this one will satisfy you completely. It's a definite keeper. I recommend that you hear it, by all means.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cecile & Jean-Luc Cappozzo, Soul Eyes

Some avant jazz artists make a point of looking back from time to time to the rich history and roots of the music. Anthony Braxton of course is one, and then so is trumpetmaster Jean-Luc Cappozzo. He with his pianist partner Cecile Cappozzo take a lovingly lingering look at some Charles Mingus and Mal Waldron gems on the recent Soul Eyes (Fou Records FR-CD15). Mingus gets his due in versions of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," "Nostalgia in Times Square" and "Pithecathropus Erectus"; Waldron is remember with "No More Tears," "The Seagulls of Kristiansund" and perhaps his best known composition-song, the title cut "Soul Eyes."

Cecile puts forth a lean-to-lush, crisply modern piano style that evokes everyone from Monk to Ran Blake (and of course a gesture towards the pianisms of Mingus and Waldron) but does it in her own way. Jean-Luc brings in some of his special avant timbrality but then can be touchingly straightforward, as in his articulation of the "Pork Pie" melody line. Both are very much on their game.

The duo format allows plenty of loose flexibility which the two realize with a oneness that communicates readily and happily. And in the process the artistry of Cecile and Jean-Luc comes through with dedication and a sort of reverence to the masters that projects outwards with nice forays into the outer realms now and again, but can and does stay nicely within the changes of the songs as the spirit moves.

It is a beautiful set that manages to remind you how central these songs still are--and also how much improvisational room there still remains for the right artists to refresh the music.

These are some magical performances that just about any jazz enthusiast should respond to like I have. Bravo!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Jeff Denson Quartet, Concentric Circles

Jeff Denson is a bassist, composer and bandleader to watch, or rather to listen to. His latest effort is a quartet made up of members of his trio and Electreo, an album entitled Concentric Circles (Ridgeway Records RRCD003). This is acoustic, progressive jazz marked by Jeff's involved contemporary compositions (plus Duke's "I Got it Bad") and the decidedly forward leaning improvisations of bassoonist Paul Hanson, pianist Dan Zemelman, Jeff on bass in arco or pizzicato modes, plus the very alive rhythm team of Jeff and drummer Alan Hall.

The music is carefully and nicely arranged and the swinging nature of the band is in no way impeded by the intricacies of the music.

Jeff sings on this too and he's very good, rangy and impeccably phrased.

One should listen closely to what Jeff is up to on bass, both in ensemble and solo contexts. The bassoon work of Hansen and piano of Zemelman most definitely add to it all as well.

This is contemporary jazz that is very well wrought and expressive without exactly falling into the avant camp. But neither is it the least bit cliche, but always thoroughly musical and modern.

I must suggest this release for anyone looking for something new and unusual. It is a great listen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Andre Goncalves, Current & Riptides

We as open listeners should be ready for anything when surveying the new music scene. The Andre Goncalves album Currents & Riptides (Shh Puma 019CD) is an excellent example. It is a studio-oriented series of two very evocative soundscapes composed and executed by Andre on synthesizer, laptop guitar and Fender Rhodes with the help of Pedro Boavida on Rhodes for the first work; Rodrigo Dias on bass and Goncalo Silva on guitar for the second.

Both pieces have a kind of uniquely expressive approach, soundscaped, sustained, developed in time, the near absence but intuitively implied presence of a drone or alternately, the presence and ambient timbral transformation of the drone (in the second piece),  and radically tonal expanses. The music concentrates on the endless variations and continually shifting intermingling of a series of motifs that grow and shrink organically and have a sort of processual feel like perhaps the patterns you perceive in natural soundscapes--raindrops, wind, the rippling gurgle of water on a small stream. They have a consistency and an infinitely variable trajectory. And like the natural world there can be the intrusion of singular events that may recur now and again against the ambiently sustained continuities and an organic processual sense of very gradual change.

It's the kind of music that lays out a tapestry of sound color that creates an open, cosmic sort of mood in the listener. And though there are others of course that have done this, the ultimate universe of tone-timbre is quite original with Goncalves.

This is music of great beauty. It is essential listening!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ingrid Laubrock, Tom Rainey, Buoyancy

Today, another fine free-avant jazz duo, this time from soprano-tenorist Ingrid Laubrock and drummer Tom Rainey, Buoyancy (Relative Pitch RPR 1048).

It consists of four freely improvised segments that show us why Ingrid is at the top of her game as a saxophonist of marked talent and facility. Whether it is an open-form exuberance and dark-toned soulfulness on tenor or a nicely burnished torrent of soprano effusions, she shows us an artistry and imaginative way that puts her at the forefront.

Tom Rainey you expect much from in a context like this, and you surely get it. He maintains a near perfect balance of sonic contrast and dialogic drive that goes very far in making this set striking and beautifully expressive.

This is essential listening for avant enthusiasts. Ingrid gets full aural exposure which she uses to great advantage and shows us a major artist in full bloom. Tom provides us with exemplary drumming that reminds us how key he is. The two together create considerable magic.

Very recommended!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Julie Kjaer 3, Dobbeltgaenger, with John Edwards, Steve Noble

If anyone doubts that we are in a kind of renaissance for women jazz artists today, one is not paying attention to the full force of the many fine recordings out there now. I give you another example on this posting in the Julie Kjaer 3 and her CD Dobbeltgaenger (Clean Feed 361). There is one collective improv; the rest are Julie Kjaer compositions. Put on the first track, "Out of Sight" with its puckish Monk-through-Lacy wryness and you know something good is up.

Julie plays alto, John Edwards double bass and Steve Noble drums. It is a tight-knit yet feely loose avant jazz affair with all playing key roles in the totality. Julie's compositions set the table for each segment and her alto has humor, brashness fingerprint tone individuality and facility.

This is music with a swinging pulse much of the time, but then a free openness that expands it all outward. The Julie-John-Steve nexus has a plastic fluidity and a soulful charge that makes for a great listen. There is a parsing segmentality to the tunes that measures things out before the solo cutting takes place, so to speak. And in so approaching the music in this way the trio hearkens back a bit to some of the new thing Simmons-NY Contemporary Five-Shepp outfits in their classic phases, but not in any way a sound cloning so much as a state-of-mind. This is a trio with its own sound but a nod to avant tradition too.

There are plenty of high points and a wholeness to the date that will bring you back to it repeatedly.

Julie Kjaer is yet another original out there that deserves a hearing.

Get this one on your ear-food menu!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Joelle Leandre 10, Can You Hear Me?

Joelle Leandre has more than one musical dimension to offer us. If we didn't know that already her recent album with the Joelle Leandre 10, Can You Hear Me? (Ayler Records 146), will alert us to this happy situation.

Joelle is one of the most important and creative, most original avant improvisational contrabassists active today. I've covered a fair number of her bass albums over on the Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog and they are most invigorating. (Click on the cross link on this page for those.) She is also an extraordinary vocalist--mostly in tandem with her bass excursions.

And she is a jazz composer-bandleader of exceptional stature. Can You Hear Me? gives us some extraordinary music from her 10-member band. It shows us her mastery of new avant compositional openness and originality.

The band is well-chosen and well suited for the music at hand. It consists of course of Joelle on contrabass, along with Guillaume Aknine on electric guitar, Florian Satche on drums and percussion, Jean-Brice Godet on clarinets, Theo Ceccaldi on violin, Christiane Bopp on trombone, Jean-Luc Cappozzo on trumpet, Severine Morfine on alto sax, Alexandra Grimal on saxophones and Valentin Ceccaldi on cello. Readers of my blogs and those conversant with the European avant jazz lifestreams should recognize some or many of these names, but ultimately what matters is that the band as a whole has considerable improvisational abilities and a collective togetherness that is near ideal for the realization of Leandre's musical sublimities.

The drummer side of me notes some really interesting work from Florian here. But then there are many improvisational high points from virtually all concerned.

And the compositional frameworks are beautifully wrought and executed for an album that stands out as vitally contemporary and artistically superb. It is some of my favorite music so far this year! So needless to say I do thoroughly recommend this one. Great compositional cohesiveness and inspiration--and terrific ensemble and solo work! The Ten need to be heard--with I hope many live appearances and more recordings. Bravo!