Monday, August 29, 2016

Adam Matlock, Lungfiddle

Of accordion players in the new and avant realms there may not be all that many we are exposed to but there are more and more of them it seems. Adam Matlock is one. He's been showing up on sessions in good ways lately and he just sent me his album, thankfully. It's called Lungfiddle (Off Records) and I've been listening.

He manages to create a new sound with just his accordion. There are seven compositions/improvisations on it and they caught my ear. He's doing a sort of post-minimalist avant thing, not exactly jazz and not exactly new music but somewhere in between.

It's a sort of originality happening here with something interesting going on throughout. Don't ask me what it sounds like because it sounds like itself. Some musical ideas repeated and branched off on, some voicings and drones you do not expect, rather brilliant transitions to unexpected realms, and a sense of line that stands out. There's generally a solid key center and it's tonal but sometimes pretty outside what harmonic-melodic expectations you might have, especially from an accordion.

It is fascinating stuff. Adam Matlock is an original. Definitely recommended.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Leap of Faith Orchestra, The Expanding Universe

Boston is PEK country. The avant reedman-composer is on a mission up there: to turn the world onto free improv music, free jazz. He's been recording prolifically lately with a number of his ensembles. The Leap of Faith Orchestra is no doubt his most ambitious project and can be heard to very good advantage on their album The Expanding Universe (Evil Clown 9110).

The release gives us one very long and rather exciting work for the full ensemble, which at that point consisted of 15 members, including Yedidyah Sid Smart on drums, Charlie Kohlhase on saxes, Glynis Lomon on cello. aquasonic and voice, in addition to reeds, trumpet, vibes, two more drummers, two basses, two violins, trombone-tuba, and piano.

This is a bracing collage of ever-varying sound color universes and at times they kick up a hell of a fuss! Other times they are a bit more focused within.

But all told you are in for a wildly free trip into the nether worlds of the universe. Nice one!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Fred Hersch Trio, Sunday Night at the Vanguard

There is something about pianist Fred Hersch's trio and the new album Sunday Night at the Vanguard (Palmetto Records 2183). It is further growth. They are reaching higher and getting there magnificently. It's a full program of standards and originals with John Hebert on bass and Eric McPherson on drums. And it is a sterling example of the post-Bill-Evans-style piano trio in the hands of the three.

The standards are not entirely standard: you get Rodgers' "A Cockeyed Optimist," the Beatles' "For No One," Rowles' "The Peacocks," Monk's "We See" in nicely wrought versions with the kind of sophisticated voicings one expects from Hersch and with some glorious right hand lines. There are four substantial Hersch originals, too.

And throughout the trio swings and finesses its way through the material on a highly elevated, highly evolved plane that all who dig the piano trio tradition will take to heart.

It's one all Hersch fans cannot afford to miss--and a great one to start with if you do not know his music. Do not hesitate.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Le Grand Fou Band, Au 7eme Ciel

Synth master Jean-Marc Foussat and some of his illustrious European colleagues have gathered together as the 17-member Grand Fou Band. They show us a wide swatch of enlivening, colorful free improvisations on their recent album Au 7eme Ciel (petit label 020).

Guitar, piano, drums, synths, accordion, voices, six horns and five strings (including contrabass) make up the confluence of sounds. Joao Camoes, Jean-Luc Cappozzo, Sylvain Guerineau, Makoto Sato and of course Jean-Marc Foussat are some of the more familiar artists involved. It is very much a group effort, however, a collage of great power at times, great introspection at others, but ever in motion.

It is surely one of the outstanding large free band ventures in recent years. The kaleidoscope of sound is spectacular and unrelentingly focused. Beautiful!

Monday, August 22, 2016

J. Blake Fichera, Scored to Death, A Conversation with Some of Horror's Greatest Composers

You no doubt have a favorite horror film. And as you think back to it you may also recall some of the music that was a part of it. Virtually everyone remembers the shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho and the screeching violins Bernard Herrmann wrote for it. Yet many of us are ignorant of the intricate interactions both technically and aesthetically that go into the creation of effective soundtracks for a great horror film.

J. Blake Fichera, a horror film fan, film music commentator and musician, has gathered some of horror's most prolific living soundtrack composers, some 14 in all, and interviewed each individually on his art, on what it takes to put all together in a finished product designed to scare the hell out of you.

The substantial dialogs are now out in a fascinating, provocative and entertaining 356-page book entitled Scored to Death: Conversations with Some of Horror's Greatest Composers (Silman-James Press, paper, $19.95).

Each composer tells a bit about what got him started as a soundtrack composer, the creative process of making a great soundtrack, his interaction with directors, producers, sound-effects people and other key personnel, time frames, budget considerations, personal idiosyncrasies and the various stages of composition that take place.

The changing role of technology over the years, both in audio production and synchronization are key themes as well. How much of the music is extensively mapped out in terms of timing? What is the role of the director in the ultimate outcome? What has happened as composition essentially went from a demo tape, a rough score or a simple live piano demonstration in the old days to the ability now to lay down a live, multi-track demo directly onto a copy of the digital film? How has the expectations of directors changed over the years?

All this and very much more is what makes the book great. The recollections of the composers on specific films and how the end result was reached is the most interesting part of the book, I would say. But it is fascinating as well to take in the particular influences a composer has had in his work and how he uses them, whether it be rock, electronic synth music or avant garde modern classical, or you-name-it, and the spectrum of inputs one can get from a director, whether it be vague impressionistic thoughts or very specific directions.

It's one of those books that virtually reads itself. You find yourself drawn into the subject and the pages turn quickly.

Scored to Death stands out as a lively set of insightful interviews that in the end gives you a very good idea about how the music comes to be and its function in the making of a modern horror film. I recommend it highly.

No Coming, No Going, The Music of Peter Kuhn, 1978-79

Peter Kuhn, reedman extraordinaire, was poised to become a major star in the firmament of free jazz in 1978-79. Personal problems got in the way and he disappeared from the scene. Now he is back, healthy and strong.

This issue, No Coming, No Going: The Music of Peter Kuhn, 1978-79 (No Business 2-CD) is for CD 1 a WKCR broadcast of Kuhn on B-flat and bass clarinet, Denis Charles on drums, William Parker on bass, Toshinori Kondo on alto horn and trumpet and Arthur Williams on trumpet that became the album Livin' Right. It was out for a time back then on Peter's own label--and it is great to be able to hear it again. I would venture to call it a forgotten classic of the era, a marvel for all concerned.

The music is a series of three well conceived Kuhn compositions, with some very swinging Denis Charles and fundamental William Parker. On top of that everyone gets a chance to have their say here but ultimately Peter stands out with the three horns together doing some excellent collective improvs as well.

The second disk consists of an extended duo recording of Peter on B-flat and bass clarinet and tenor sax and Denis Charles on drums. It was a 1979 concert at the New England Repertory Theater in Worcester, Mass that was broadcast at the time on WCUW.

This is a creative two-way effort as interesting for what Denis was doing (he was a great drummer!) as well as what Peter conjured out of his horns.

If Livin' Right is the more exciting of the two, the second CD is nonetheless a very nicely done gathering of the duo and a documented revelation of the extended artistry of Peter and Denis in those days.

I most certainly recommended this one for your new thing collection. Peter was doing important work.

Happily there is a brand new New Business album out with the latest music from Peter and a trio that I will cover in a couple of days!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

d'une rive a l'autre, sylvain guerineau, itaru oki, kent carter, makoto sako

If a well-chosen international quartet playing cutting-edge free jazz sounds interesting to you, d'une rive a l'autre (Improvising Beings ib47) is a new release you should consider.

Each artist in the quartet has honed his sound over the years. The four make a grand noise together in five well-paced segments. The band is comprised of Sylvain Guerineau on tenor sax, Itaru Oki on trumpet, flugelhorn and flutes, Kent Carter on double bass, and Makoto Sato on drums.

There is inspiration to be heard throughout. The band has a real feel for dynamics, so that you get a spectrum of sounds from the introspective to the stormy.

It is a commonplace to expect a band like this to listen, or conversely to NOT listen to one another. The album gives you interactive interplay and a four-way independence at times for a varied and absorbing result.

No doubt, all four give us some of their most considered work here. It's avant improv that goes its own way and does it with maximum creativity.

Kudos to the quartet and for Improvising Beings for putting this out! Highly recommended.