Monday, December 18, 2023

Andrew Krasilnikov, Bloody Belly Comb Jelly


From Russian Jazz saxophonist and composer Andrew Krasilnikov comes BLOODY BELLY COMB JELlY  (Rainy Days Records Rainy 018CD)--a remarkable record with a title not easily digested but in the end refers to a very luminous genus of jellyfish newly discovered in the depths of the oceans.

Krasilnikov plays soprano and c-melody saxophone, and writes the fascinating intricacy of the some seven compositions in part reflecting time spent at Berklee College, Boston sessions and New York Apple Core Moments before returning to Moscow, and creating this exciting large band offering among other albums. Little-by-little the music reinvents your ears in an exuberant super FreeBop topping off.

You hear echoes of Shorter, Tristano, Hancock, Gill Evans as you forward ahead to a beyond slot.

Chromatic runs of delicious ambiguity fill your ears thanks to sax, band and piano. As you listen by track five you start to meet happily the irrepressible flow and facticity from Krasilnikov, then the pianist too starts flowing very nicely as well, almost in a Tristano Atlantic mode. The quartet starts off the album and they are good. Others are added more or less consistently for the big band culmination. Listen to this one!

Check the whole album on Bandcamp

Satoko Fujii Tokyo Trio, Jet Black


For many years pianist Satoko Fujii has been one of a handful of new avant improv jazz pianists who lead the field as the major influences, the major innovators on their instrument. That is saying something as the number of talented jazz pianists today is quite high in my estimation and to my appreciation. Ms, Fujii over the years has been extraordinarily productive, with hundreds of CDs released of several hundred performances in solo and many varied instrumentations of all kinds. Right now we have an especially compelling CD out of Fujii and her Tokyo Trio in a riveting set entitled Jet Black (Libra Records  203-073).

Ms. Fujii's Tokyo Trio has all the requisites for a landmark avant Jazz Improv Trio. Ms. Fujii's strong pianistic musicality and her vibrant compositions make every cut a highlight. There are six Fujii compositions here,  all standouts for memorable character and strength, along with open ended Jazz inventiveness and New Music Modernisms. Takashi Sugawa on bass and Ittetsu Takemura on drums both have high inventive skills and original musicality in all they play here. They are in many ways the ideal foil for Ms. Fujii's remarkable presence throughout.

Ms. Fujii's imaginative scoring for the trio makes for highly engaging fare, thanks to the superior musicality of the members and their response to her fertile musical ideas. This one is a solid winner and a thrill to hear multiple times. Highly recommended. Satoko Fujii scores big here. Hurrah!


Friday, December 1, 2023

Brew, Heat (1998-99), Between Reflections (2019), Miya Masaoka, Reggie Workman, Gerry Hemingway


When it comes to Brew, I am guilty of not previously being aware of them as a threesome. Yet I have been gladly aware of kotoist Miya Masaoka for some time, and of course i have followed happily the bass, bandleading and musical direction of Reggie Workman for many years and so too of drummer Gerry Hemingway. But I still say after studying the music that the whole in the presence of this double CD Heat (1999) and Between Reflections (2019)  (Clean Feed CF642) is greater  in the sense that the three invent a largeness that I did not quite expect of either of the three singularly. It was a surprise at what they created as a whole beyond what I might have heard them do previously, or in other words there is a happy confluence, a chemistry of togetherness that is a true pleasure to hear, cover-to-cover.

Miya plays koto and electronics throughout, then appears also as percussionist and on the monochord and percussion for the second CD, Reggie appears of course on bass as well as percussion plus saw and digeridoo on Between Reflectiony, Gerry plats drums and electronics throughout and then also vibes and voice for CD2. There is a consistency of excellence ro be heard always, a distinctive expressive totality that touches on motives, an openness with occasional forays into swing and rock underpinnings. The koto in Miya's hands can sound like itself technique-wise but then at times a harp, a guitar and/or an avant extended technique vehicle. Workman and Hemingway complete the picture with a rhythm team as good or better than any today.

This is a very first-rate improv sequence, and both the early and later disks come through with high impact. music, all astute improvisation sequences, some of the best on our current scene.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Kevin Sun, The Depths of Memory


You are lucky when there is a new artist, when a new artist emerges with a fine tuned concept and a talent to realize it. Or at least I feel lucky when encountering such a thing. This is happening with Chinese native New York jazz tenorman-composer Kevin Sun and his double album The Depths of Memory  (Endectomorph Music EMM 015).

Creative arpeggiations, chordal sequences, harmonic-melodic progressivity,  and sculpturally alive lines enable free expressions to thrive with Sun's tenor, in creational overdrive and compositional profundity, Dano Saul on piano in an exceptional expressive mode,  Adam O'Farrill triumphant on trumpet for 2/3rds of the session, then a righteous presence of an alternating rhythm section of Walter Stinson or Simon Willson on bass and Matt Honor or Dayeon Seok on drums. Compositional and improvisational sequences balance one another well in sophisticated and creative ways. The front line of tenor, piano and trumpet stand out but the entire ensemble is loose and effective throughout. This sounds thoroughly new and progressive yet definitely Jazz infused in a later Newish-Thing Blue-Note-and-beyond sort of way.

Molto-Bravo! Do not fail to hear this one. Stream the music and get an idea of its richness of theme and improvisation stylistics. Here is the Bandcamp link:

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Charlie Apicella & Iron City Meet The Griots Speak, Destiny Calling


Nowadays you might find all kinds of combinations on the Jazz scene and much of the time there is good ground broken, productive music made. I feel that way about the meeting of guitarist Charlie Apicella and his trio Iron City with the avant Afro-American Avant foursome of The Griots Speak on the album Destiny Calling (Origin Arts OA2 22214). It is a combination that works completely thanks to the big ears and musical attitudes of all concerned. So  Charlie holds forth soulfully on guitar  loosely enough to set up a rootedness to the Avant freedom surrounding his organist Brad Whitely's stylings, then topping off the trio is Austin Walker's swinging drums, all told at times a little Tony Williams Lifetime adventuresomenesss, th pugh not as far advantced in that as the original Willam;s outfit.  

All the that the all-star avant togetherness of reed ace Daniel Carter who doubles on piano and trumpet nicely, then on bass the New York kingpin of outness William Parker who doubles on the Afro doson ngoni, the gralla double-reed wind instrument and the pocket trumpet, then the conga percussion vet ace Juma Sultan on congas, shakers, etc.

Put it all together and it is an adventure of an album of out grooving everyone is up for. Good show, this.

Both groups give plenty of cound color variety, soul and energy in tandem, and in various settings. In the end I've listened to the whole of it a bunch of times and it rings true and solidly in a very musical way.

The album ends with the soul funk groove "Sparks" and amen brothers and sisters we get there for sure. The Afro Element and organ groove and a little Miles electric band looseness and new thing looseness as a undercurrent, that all works very well; in all it  is the sum of the totality and happily it melds together in an original amalgam that keeps sounding good as you play it repeatedly. Bravo. Check this one out.

Here is a cut to hear:

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Sarah Weaver, Synthesis Series, Music of Sarah Weaver and Collaborations


Composer and sound artist/improviser Sarah Weaver is one of those vital creative forces at work today in the New Jazz and Improvisation realms that makes the new, very new. There is a double album out digitally this summer but soon as a two CD-set that I've been listening to with interest. It is called Synthesis Series, Music of Sarah Weaver and Collaborations (Sync Source).

The music came naturally out of a COVID era social distancing as music meant to be performed live by members from widely disparate locations. The first most noticeable trait to this music is the appealing continuance of a long, spanning rhapsodic flow that gets its identity from composer-performer interfaces. All that is seen strongly from the beginning and the 46+ minute bird-like conference on "Integral Infinity."

Then the second part has a great inter-collaborative composition and performative thing for Gerry Hemingway and Sarah Weaver. What stands out right away is the striking blast of percussive color freely yet magnetically sounding a tattoo for our listening selves like a New Guinea slit gong sounding from an adjoining mountaintop.

Track one of album two,  "Isomorphic Now"  develops even further the long interactive song warbling as played beautifully by each of the melodically situated instruments.

The fourth and final soundblock begins with low notes from the  lower horns and then others wing into an interlocking intervallic lengthening.

The performers play a key role as color brushes, as improvisers, as artfully situated in Ms. Weaver's compositional matrix. They in so doing help make the music a sublime success, thanks especially to the overall directive,  completely sympatico retation to her and what sound and pronounced ambience she looks for. So kudos to Jun Sung Choi (vocals), Jane Ira Bloom (soprano sax), Marty Ehrlich (clarinete woodwinds), Ned Rothenberg (alto sax, woodwinds), Ray Anderson (trombone), Dave Taylor (bass trombone), Mark Helias (contrabass), Gerry Hemingway (percussion, co-composer on piece #2), Sarah Weaver (composer, conductor, improviser, computer music), and Robert Dick (flute, contrabass flute).

All this takes place with a kind of classic New Music certitude. Ms, Weaver clearly occupies an comfortable perch among the prevailing avant winds folks. She does not follow a predictable path as far as what generally gets forward in some typical stylistic byways and cross currents. So I do recommend you pay serious attention to this. Bravo.

Hear related works played live at this link:

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Owen Broder, Hodges: Front and Center, Volume 1


There is a truism in the idea that a tribute album can be progressive or regressive, in that returning to a specific artist or genre can help redefine the present or merely recycle it all like heartburn. Here is an album I immediately took to on first hearing but then hesitated, wondering whether we go forward or back with it. I did not know the artist before hearing this, but in the end I kept hearing a fresh newness as I listened so I resort happily to posting on it. Alto and baritone saxman Owen Broder shows himself a real fan of Johnny Hodges and his alto but then takes the swing influence and updates it all in a way that feels good to hear repeatedly. That on this first volume of the digital album Hodges: Front and Center  (Outside in Music, Bandcamp Digital Release).

The band is together and motivated to reach backwards and forwards at once, in a lively Quintet of Broder plus Riley Mulherkar on trumpet, Carmen Staaf on piano, Barry Stephenson on bass and Bryan Carter on drums. They go their own way within a kind of Rabbit and Duke in a swing stew that sounds all the clarion feeling of the best of that period without slavishly imitating anything.

The repertoire includes a couple of Swing and pre-Swing classics like "Royal Garden Blues" and "Take the A Train," then a few things, sides Rabbit did on his own, and then others that give us the essence but I do not readily recognize them. Good things all, played with a conviction and steadfast resiliency one does not often hear in such retrospectives. Bravo, bravo. Listen to this on the Bandcamp site and order it there if like me it gets you smiling.