Friday, July 31, 2015

Jorrit Dijkstra, Music for Reeds and Electronics: Oakland

I've been catching up lately with some of the notable Driff Records releases, finally. Today's disk is somewhat unusual, Jorrit Dijkstra's Music for Reeds and Electronics: Oakland (Driff 1403). It consists of Dijkstra compositions that leave room for open improvisations and electronic sounds. Jorrit plays alto, lyricon and analog electronics, Phillip Greenlief is on alto, tenor and clarinet, Kyle Bruckmann plays oboe, English horn and analog electronics, Frank Gratowski is on clarinet and alto, and finally Jon Raskin plays sopranino, alto, baritone and analog electronics.

Jon and Kyle's collection of various analog synths and modules along with Jorrit's lyricon make up the electronic contingency. There are 10 works in all, varied in thematic thrust but occasionally with a sort of Lacy-esque angularity. There is plenty of space for both electronic sounds and reed improvisations. Given the talent and versatile improvisatory abilities and sound-color awareness of this line-up nothing is lacking.

The music is quite modern and outside, yet structured via the compositional frameworks and the players' innate sense. It may end up sounding more like Rova plus electronics or Mitchell-Braxton abstractions than a World Saxophone Quartet, but ultimately it travels a path of its own.

Brittle and bristling, multi-voiced and multi-hued, all ten works give us a good deal to hear and grow into. There are new music connotations all over this set, but a bit of soulful modernity as well. Jorrit's excellent compositional sense and the collective talent of the quintet make for a heady melange and a significant avant statement.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Francois Carrier, Michel Lambert, iO

The alto saxophone of Francois Carrier and the drums of Michel Lambert have formed an excellent tandem for some time now, as an entity in itself and as a core nucleus that adds sympathetic others as fitting. You can look up Carrier's various releases with Lambert that I've covered on these pages by typing Francois' name in the search box above. It has been and is an association that bears much excellent free jazz fruit.

Now we have a new duo recording of the two that productively documents the ongoing collaboration with iO (FMR CD 384). It comprises nine open improvisations that feature Lambert on drums and Carrier on alto sax and Chinese oboe.

The music was recorded live at two different venues in Montreal in 2012 and 2013. On both occasions the two are in great form. They explore the terrain they are known to do, free, open improv with expressive torque and spontaneity.

Carrier is fast becoming one of the very premiere alto sax voices out there in freedomland, with a beautifully lucid sense of line and sound. Lambert is his perfect foil, so to say, with a creative brilliance of his own.

Together they make magic here. If you like the open world of the intimate duet on the new improv scene, this is one you'll no doubt thoroughly enjoy. Carrier and Lambert have much to say and they say it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Giovanni Guidi Trio, This is the Day

When it comes to a highly lyrical piano style in jazz, everyone knows Keith Jarrett and his special place. His popularity is enormous and ongoing. Yet he never was the only one to work in a lyrical vein. Steve Kuhn, Paul Bley, McCoy Tyner and many others might be be named for their lyrical side, going back also to Bill Evans and ultimately many of the bop master pianists when in a ballad mode, Bud Powell and all the rest. Not to forget the Monk of "Ruby My Dear" or even "Round Midnight."

So if we find pianists of lyrical bent practicing today, we should not automatically group them into a Keith Jarrett school. Giovanni Guidi and his trio and their recent This is the Day (ECM 2403 4709271) is an excellent case in point. This is supremely lyrical piano music in an well-knit trio context, yet Guidi does not sound like Jarrett, really. He has most definitely his own way and the album gives it to you in a large, ravishing dose.

Giovanni is joined by Thomas Morgan on double bass, who has a sort of post-Haden folkish profundity-in-simplicity to his sound. Joao Lobo plays drums with the sort of sensitivity Guidi's music demands. Together they make for an excellent meld.

Most of the material was written by Guidi and it is very warm and tonally direct. Joao contributes one and there are a couple of standards. "Quizas Quizas Quizas (Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps)," the Osvaldo Farres song, sounds somewhat surprisingly just right for the trio. I say surprisingly because the Latin song repertoire is not often addressed and Guidi gives you plenty of reasons why that should be less the case in his well-considered version.

The whole album has a singingly direct quality. It may be music that is very accessible to the general listener. I believe it is. But it is that not at the expense of artistry and finesse, of which there is a great deal to be heard here. In short Guidi has the potential to be listened to and liked by many, but he is a real artist nevertheless. And there is never anything facile or manipulative about the music. It is Guidi without compromise. Yet his way will appeal to all kinds of people, I think.

He and the trio can be freely loose at times but ever tonal, mostly diatonic, modal, primal and emotionally direct. It's an album that I have been drawn into happily from listen to listen and come away from it with a desire to hear it again. To me that is a high recommendation of self-to-self. And so I pass along that recommendation!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hugues Vincent, Yasumune Morishige, Fragment

Several days ago here I posted on Bobun, a new music improv duet of Frantz Loriot (viloa) and Hugues Vincent (cello). Today we have Hugues Vincent and Yasumune Morishige both on cello for a nine-part avant improv offering called Fragment (Improvising Beings 28).

It once again enters rarefied realms of sensuously alive timbre color with the dual cello sonance out front and on occasion coming through as a bit more busily continuous and expressive in the extended techniques realm.

The duo achieves a remarkable, overtone-rich presence that fills you with the sound possibilities of string on bow, on fingers and the wooden resonance of the cello bodies. I will not attempt here to inventory the wide variety of playing techniques. They are explored thoroughly and creatively in contrasting segments that provide a cello music on the extreme but sonorous edge of the avant world.

The end point is not just that it is "outside" the mainstream, but of course that it excels as it dwells there.

After quite a few listens I have grown fond rather than tired of this one. It brings the organic sonic universe to life in fascinating ways that are a testament to the creative and musical powers of Vincent and Morishige. Listen to this if you will! It is worth your time.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Leap of Faith, Regenerations

Leap of Faith is the name of a collective free improv outfit operating out of New England. Regenerations (Evil Clown 9036) features two substantial free-form excursions that capture the collective in two incarnations. Throughout PEK is on clarinets, saxaphones, bassoon and voice, and Glynis Loman is on cello and voice.

For the 41-minute title work "Regenerations" (recorded in 2015) they are joined by Steve Norton on saxes and clarinets, and Yuri Zbitnov on percussion and voice.

For the 38-minute, four-part work "Alternate Tales from Linear Combinations and Transformations" (recorded in 1996) they co-feature Mark McGrain on trombone, Craig Schildhauer on bass, Rob Bethel on cello and Forrest Larsen on viola for the first two parts, Sydney Smart on drums (for part one) and Laurence Cook replacing him for parts two and three.

Both works are high, full-bore free improv spontaneities that pay close attention to timbral sound-color shaping as well as freely expressive collective improvisations. Each shifting grouping of instruments gives rise to color spectrums alternatingly bright or impastoed, clustered or speckled depending on the moment.

This is less an individual solo-oriented music than a collective endeavor. Sometimes a group of instruments and occasionally a single instrument is more in the foreground than others, quite naturally, yet the end-effect is of group sonics.

This perhaps is not for the timid listener. It is uncompromising in its overall thrust. It creates its own world and you fit yourself in as listener well or not depending on your predispositions. In other words, this is free music of a distinctive sort, well paced, serious, advanced in its own way. It is very good indeed. If there is a New England school of free music this is a vivid part of it. Recommended!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Bobun, Suite pour machines a meche, Frantz Loriot & Hugues Vincent

The European world of new music improvisation has grown to rather vast proportions in the last few decades. Happily I get a fair amount of it to review and today's offering is a very good example. It is a duo called Bobun, with Frantz Loriot on viola, Hugues Vincent on cello, both making use of "objects" either as elements in prepared fashion or supplementing the sound world as a whole. The album is titled Suite pour machines a meche (Creative Sources Recordings 215CD).

Each of the six sections of the suite has a particular aural identity, the first movement double-stopped dissonant blocks of continuity, the second prepared jabs of sound, and so forth.

What impresses me about this recording is its uncompromising avantness but also its rather rigorously defined aural breadth for each segment. "Extended techniques" are the order of the day much of the time, and each movement has a clearly defined sound world that gives the listener a shifting set of universes.

It is in the "tradition" of new music avant improv that goes back of course to the early-to-late '60s in the pioneering work of Il Gruppo, MEV and AMM. There is an expressiveness at times that relates to "free jazz" but mostly it is highly abstracted. You would be hard put to find anything in the way of a jazz vocabulary in this music, and of course that is deliberate.

I must say that Bobun has a constancy and expressive effectiveness that puts them at the forefront of recent explorations of this sort. That doesn't mean that it is an accessible music. It is hermetic instead. Those who are avant-initiated will be rewarded by close listening; those unfamiliar with the more extreme new music improv may be converted if they take the sound worlds seriously and devote some time to familiarizing themselves by repeated exposure.

It's a very worthy example of abstract outness!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Rempis Percussion Quartet, Cash and Carry

Dave Rempis and his Aerophonic label have been giving us some excellent Chicago-style avant jazz improvisation. The present-day Chicago style is as contentful and distinctive as deep-dish pizza, I suppose you could say. The Dave Rempis contingency gathers together some of the best players and opens up special territories of sound with every new release, it seems.

The Dave Rempis Percussion Quartet continues where the earlier Aerophonic releases leave off--in this case with two long cuts of live music from Chicago's Hungry Brain club, featuring Dave on alto-tenor-baritone, the busily significant bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, and two of the best drummers active on the scene, Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly. Cash and Carry (Aerophonic 010) is the title of the CD.

This August 31, 2014 set celebrated ten years of the group's existence as it also marked the end of that year's Chicago Jazz Fest, so that on hand was a crowd of advanced jazz lovers who migrated from the outdoor festival to the club.

Judging by the recording, the crowd was treated to some superior music that night. All four are in full-bore expressive mode. Dave is on fire and has a great deal to say, Ingebrigt plays with much authority and imagination, and of course Tim and Frank give us the freewheeling thrusts of power and subtlety we expect from them, only doubled, so to say, by their dual generation.

The open freedom of the two lengthy, in-the-moment performances has everything to recommend: solo excellence, group dynamics and interactions at a high peak, plenty of ideas and that special something you get from dedicated avantists when everything clicks.

If you don't know Dave Rempis well Cash and Carry is an excellent place to begin. Those who already dig Rempis and the new Chicagoans will find this one essential. Yes!