Friday, October 11, 2019

Go: Organic Orchestra and Brooklyn Raga Massive, Ragmala, A Garland of Ragas

Where else might you hear a combination of Indian Classical influence, Prog-Fusion Quasi-Psychedelica, Gnawa, Prog-Funk post-Miles and a myriad of other things deftly put together as one. Certainly the concatenation of Adam Rudoph's Go: Organic Orchestra and the Brooklyn Raga Massive and their two-CD, three-LP Ragmala - A Garland of Ragas (Meta Records Meta/BRM 023) is a place where all such things happen together exceedingly well.

The album combines some 40 musicians including Gnawa's legendary Hassaan Hakmoun, Chicago's own Hamid Drake on drums/percussion, celebrated cornetist Graham Haynes, flautist Kaoru Watanabe along with the Go and Brooklyn ensembles.

Fused advance and Indian classical are the primary drivers one might say--for the roots of the two orchestras lie there, yet too this is not some "ordinary" fusion, for everyone brings specifics, never generics.

The two CDs have such a variable palette of goodies that I scarce know where to start, other than to say that rhythm is prominent and the drumming-percussion is irresistible. Yet then so are the parts that map out the written routines and their juxtapose with very viable improvisational points in time.

It is an album whose ambition is justified in excellent adventure, results that make you come back repeatedly to grow into the music world-fully well, at least in my case. It is invigorating grafting-hybridization that promises and delivers in ways we do not often get such measure of in the Progressive music-Avant sphere.

This is not music to rest on laurels. It expands in the best sense of what Fusion was meant to be in its inceptive years.

Hurrah for this one. Get it!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Heddy Boubaker, The Sea of Intranquility. MINI-Review

Heddy Boubaker's The Sea of Intranquility (Ubn Reve Nu umd008) is an album length electroacoustic work that has a soundscaped psychedelic presence and sonic strength that wakes you up. It has a long-run kind of aural magic and a guitar-sourced orchestral fullness that is very rewarding to hear. You can buy a copy at DISCOGS

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Cheryl Pyle, Beyond Trio, Live at the I Beam, Beyond Quartet, Beyond Quartet


I've been happily following the music of flautist-bandleader Cheryl Pyle for well on a decade I believe. If I have missed some outings lately it was not for the want of it but rather the upside-down quality of trying to keep on since the world I was a part came into financial eclipse in the last five years. I am not here to complain for life is a gambit we cannot afford to ignore, isn't it? All is well now in that I am doing good things I hope most every day.

Meanwhile Cheryl has been alerting me to some fine new recordings of hers of late and I come on here to praise a few, namely her Beyond Trio Live at I Beam and her Beyond Quartet (Bandcamp). The trio features Cheryl on flute and alto flute plus Michael Eaton on soprano sax and Reggie Sylvester on drums. The Quartet date is Pyle and Eaton plus Claire de Brunner on bassoon and Gene Coleman on bass flute and piccolo. Everyone on both dates is in fine form.

Both albums reward your listening concentration with a very alive set of Cheryl's compositions, an Improv Music and New Thing coming together that is a definite exhilaration from start to finish. Her groups grow ever more tightly spun together though still with the freedom that has always been part of her hallmark. And her compositions are a new element, more fully worked out and a vital new scaffolding for what she continues to evolve into now.

I would say most definitely that Cheryl is doing some of the most interesting New Jazz in and around New York these days. These two albums show us why she is a voice that must be heard. Check these out by all means!

To order etc here are the two links:

Friday, April 26, 2019

Chris Greene Quartet, PlaySPACE (Live)

PlaySPACE (Live) (Single Malt Recordings 8004922345871) brings you the new recording by saxophonist Chris Greene and his Quartet, and proves nicely that live jazz recordings when right are much of what the music is about. Chris is limber and inspired as his tenor and soprano charge forward with the excellent support of the quartet.

A nice arrangement of  Wayne Shorter's "Speak No Evil" caps a lively set of progressive Funk, Modern-day swinging, the blues and the truth, which is what the blues tell, right? We hear the band in the Evanston, Il. club SPACE, Chris's hometown haunt. Clearly everyone is relaxed and hooked up to the main stem.

Chris has his own voice and is not afraid to let loose here, nor does the quartet hang back. It is one of those immediate hookups that reminds you why hitting the clubs even today is the best way to hear the music, and too why live recordings if right are very right.

Check this out!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Pacific Harp Project Play, MINI-Review

Anyone who loves the harp and likes to hear it carry forward what can be done in "Jazz-Rock" worlds will no doubt be interested in this album Play (Self-Released). As you can see by the cover image it is by the Pacific Harp Project, a nicely thought-out combination of harp (Megan Bledsoe Ward), vibes (Noel Okimoto), soprano sax (Todd Yukumoto) electric bass (Jon Hawes) and drums (Allan Ward).

The music is slightly reminiscent at times of the classic Gary Burton group in their later ECM days, with well done songcrafting (in this case songs by Ward, Okimoto, etc.) and then some that add singer Jamie Ward, and then finally arrangements for this ensemble of music originally composed for other instrumentation by Modern Classical composers (Salzedo, Faure) or not-so-Modern (Handel).

Ward is a very good harpist and one hears her with a happy ear if one loves such things. The rest of the band is very good as well.

The main thrust is the way everything mixes together and it is a listening that some of the smoothies and new agers might keep on if they heard yet there is substance here and this is not some kind of pablum for the musically challenged.

So you who dig the harp, check this out!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Ivo Perelman (Perelman, Maneri, Wooley, Shipp), Strings 4

When times keep going forward we can still think that some things remain constants. One is in "Modern Jazz" of course the importance of great performances, great improvisations. We need look no farther recently to reaffirm this with a new album by saxophonist Ivo Perelman in association in the always vibrant company of Matt Maneri on viola, Nate Wooley on trumpet and Matt Shipp on piano. It is the fourth volume of the new series of recordings Ivo is putting together with a title that explains itself, namely Strings, and to be more precise on this volume Strings 4 (Leo).

It is an example of the centrality of the WHO in today's open or Free Avant Jazz gathering. As you listen you know that this particular combination is the defining factor in the aural results. Perhaps it is very obvious but then it still warrants thinking about, in part because it is never so true as in this brand of musical interaction.

Truly, every person in this gathering defines the music. First off of course is Ivo himself. He embodies the Jazz Tradition and the Modern-Avant Tradition in very much his own way--with creatively brilliant line weaving that assume all that went before and neither ignores the before nor attaches to it. He simply asserts the moment of his own musical sense at every moment and in weighs the past as it travels to the today-future.

Nate Wooley on trumpet does his owning reading of past-present-future too. You might hear a growl that alludes to Bubber Miley perhaps, and it perfectly belongs to the dialog. So too Matt Manieri  climbs atop what has been and makes of his viola a freely floating, all-encompassing vehicle to express one quarter of the whole. And he does so in ways that go beyond while going within himself too.

Matt Shipp is the ideal pianist for a thoughtfully free quartet date like this, because he thrives ever in an open set game. It is what he establishes himself within, as anyone who has followed his trajectory with attention in the last few decades.

And in the end it is the moment being right for these four and nobody else that creates ir-reduplicable results.The outlook is radically collective, I suppose you could say. Everybody solos, and so too nobody solos, yet all four come in and out of focus like sun and clouds alternating on a spring day. There are vast swatches of floated note clusters punctuated with passing jabbers and woodchopper's balls hanging suspended then departing as abruptly as they came.

This could be thought of as a state-of-the-art example of free improvisation today, as it is that. If you want to check what is up nowadays this to my mind is one you should not miss. Ivo Perelman and this quartet are at the top of their game. Give it a listen by all means.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Burton Greene, Compendium, Solos Duos Trios

Better late than never when it comes to music that you have not covered because life got in the way. That's how it's been for me with the fine album by Free-Avant Jazz pianist legend Burton Greene and his fairly recent double-CD release Compendium (Improvising Artists 2-CD). The subtitle Solos Duos Trios tells us what the form is that things take in this wide-ranging and rather brilliant offering of Burton and the workingman's dedicated groups and subgroups he fields on this collection.

Burton is of course the constant on piano and he is featured in solo as well as varying duos and trios wit Roberto Haliffi on drums, Stefan Raidl on double bass (for the first CD) and Tilo Raumheier on flute (for the second CD).

The emphasis is on how Burton has evolved and keeps going like the formation of a coral reef island where there is a building atop via accumulative developments. So in the course of this program the very free mixes with Monk, with songs and swinging, with compositions and tonal singing. It is a definitive look at Burton as he is now, ever moving forward and worth every moment of your listening time. This is that and anyone who knows and digs Burton's earlier work, does not know it all that well or just loves the piano will find this I think very much a revelation, an absorbing and rewarding thing.

I am so glad I have it. That should tell you something?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

LFU: Lisbon Freedom Unit, Praise of Our Folly

I have been covering the Lisbon Avant Improv Jazz Scene on these blog pages essentially since I began the blog these now pretty many years ago. Fir anybody who has been following it (or are already following what is happening there without aid of this blog) there is a kind of summit meeting of some of the very most important practitioners of the art in Lisbon, the first of what one hopes will be many recordings of the group. They are dubbed LFU or Lisbon Freedom Unity and the album is named Praise of Our Folly (Clean Feed CF 480 CD).

It is a set that lives up to the promise of such a gathering. There is Luis Lopes on electric guitar, Rodrigo Amado on tenor, Bruno Parrinha on soprano and clarinet, Pedro Sousa on tenor sax, Rodrigo Pinheiro on piano and Rhodes, Ricardo Jacinto on cello, Hernani Faustino on double bass, Pedro Lopes on turntables and electronics and Gabriel Ferrandini on drums and percussion.

And the four-part program makes for the best sort of free improvisation, where all are attuned to one another and listen while also having each an important vision of what they can bring to each moment. Part One sets the stage with a kind of soundscaped panorama, Part Two rockets off to a pointillistic brilliance by the stringed instruments (that includes piano) and drums and on from there, without looking back and taking no prisoners. The horns join in, we launch skywards and there is memorable and riveting sojourns to places far beyond earth. The sound colors are rainbow-like and the collective contributions are far beyond, more than the sum of each individual part, though everyone can be listened to in focus with profit as well. It exemplifies what a larger group can bring to the freedom ringing.

In short, this is a summit worthy of the name, a rather monumental adventure that anyone who appreciates free improvisation will respond to. If you want to get a feel for what is happening in Lisbon, or even if you already know, this one is star-full! Yes, indeed. Grab this one!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Rodrigo Amado, A History of Nothing

I have followed happily the emergence of Portuguese tenor sax titan Rodrigo Amado from the very first releases. And so the latest one does not surprise me, but very much pleases me, for it is substantial. It is entitled A History of Nothing (Trost TR 170), and an insightful history it is.

The group is a powerful one, with Rodrigo of course on tenor, the master Joe McPhee on pocket trumpet and soprano sax, Kent Kessler on double bass and Chris Corsano on drums. It is all-star in its musical content as well as name.

A gamut of freely alive sound moods surround us, from the open balladic to a high-energy testifying. Rodrigo sounds quite inspired and Joe adds his always exciting front-line contributions, with a bit more trumpet that one usually hears, and that is of course a good thing. Kent and Chris bring up the rhythm end with creative fire. In short, everyone is having a good, a very good session here and it is a kind of monument to how free improvisation in the right hands and at the right time is as awesome as it can get.

If you do not know Rodrigo Amado's playing you can start with this one and get a wonderful view of where he is now. Those who know Rodrigo's music already will be very glad to hear this I warrant. It is an excellent album. Do not miss it!