Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sonny Simmons & Moksha Samnyasin, Nomadic

Sonny Simmons returns following upon the heels of an extended box set (type his name in the search box for that review post) with a more concentrated single CD. The backing trio is called Moksha Samnyasin. Nomadic (svart 331) once again dwells on a high plane of eastern-world-neo-psychedelic cosmics.

Sonny makes his presence known on cor anglais and alto sax; Thomas Bellier lays down the bottom on electric bass; Sebastien Bismuth appears on drums, percussion and electronics; and finally Michel Kristof comes up with some characteristic atmospheric lines on sitar.

This album continues where the other recent ones left off. It is electric, exploratory music with a key-centered world voltage. Sonny as before pares down his playing to the essentials, with the sort of modal excursions he has concentrated on lately. The band gives the music a three-dimensional sonic coloring that has rock-world-zoner connotations.

The music is loose, open and creative, with post-Milesian electricity but its own cosmic domain. If you don't expect to hear Sonny in his earlier incarnations and simply relax and flow along with the music you find yourself in good places throughout.

It may not be a masterpiece but it has direction and depth. That Sonny has in a way reinvented himself and managed to make a different music is a good thing. As long as you realize the earlier music is still out there to hear, you can open up to this music and appreciate it on its own terms. And you may well find yourself digging it. Listen.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Maria Schneider Orchestra, The Thompson Fields

The big band music of Maria Schneider over the years has been original and particular. She follows her own muse. After eight years without a release she returns with her orchestra for a winning set of works on an album entitled The Thompson Fields (artistShare as0137).

It is an album with a rather unified feel to it, lyric, poetic and pastoral for the most part, rhapsodic and melodically alive. The group is a rather large one, 18 members plus additional percussion on one piece. I will list who solos on the album to keep it brief: Scott Robinson, alto clarinet and baritone sax, Marshall Gilkes, trombone, Greg Gisbert, fluegelhorn, Donny McCaslin, tenor sax, Frank Kimbrough, piano, Lage Lund, guitar, Rich Perry, tenor sax, Steve Wilson, alto sax and Gary Versace on accordion. Each gives us soloing that extends the mood of the music at hand while also showing their artistry.

What's satisfying about this set is the unified mood, nature-oriented, expressive, melodically eloquent, well-integrated....It shows us a Maria Schneider at peace with the natural world, using her gifts to create a tapestry of well-orchestrated big band music. But don't expect from this a new age limpidity. This is must of lyric heights but it has thrust and power too. And so we get a big-band jazz of a special sort. In some ways it has a familial relation to the impressionism of Gil Evans at his best, with a rejoinder that this is all Maria Schneider. She occupies her very own branch of a lyrical tree. We can admire the music on its own and appreciate it for its singularity. I am doing just that.

There is a great deal of music on the album, and all of it seems to piece together to give us a very vivid picture of Ms. Schneider today. Beautiful.

Highly recommended.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Gary McFarland Legacy Ensemble, Circulation: The Music of Gary McFarland

To those that remember the music of Gary McFarland, the jazz composer and arranger who had some genuine recognition and a real presence on the serious jazz scene in the '60s especially, one must admit that he is not much remembered these days. All the more reason for the disk up for discussion today, Circulation: The Music of Gary McFarland (Planet Arts 301523). It features a quintet billed as the Gary McFarland Legacy Ensemble. Michael Benedict, the drummer and one of the arrangers for the program, heads the ensemble and gets co-credit with Kerry McFarland as Creative Director.

The band is a nice combination of Benedict, Joe Locke on vibes, Sharel Cassity on saxophones, Bruce Barth on piano, and Mike Lawrence on bass. Arrangements for the all-McFarland program are by Benedict, Barth and Kerry McFarland. They sound right.

McFarland died suddenly in 1971 at aged 38. But by then he had amassed a sizable legacy of compositions. The eleven numbers performed by the quintet here remind us of the substantial excellence of his music. His death was indeed a true loss.

Barth, Lawrence and Benedict have been playing together as a trio for a long while. Their closeness and empathy lay the foundations for some strong jazz. The addition of Locke and Cassity, both very accomplished musicians, complete the picture. All the front-liners are by now very much into their own thing and showcase the McFarland repertoire with a contemporary post-bop immediacy. The rhythm team puts a very solid foundation underneath it all.

The album is a real treat, a surprise to me because I had no special expectations at the first listening stage, yet it all jumped out and grabbed me straight off.

It is very first-rate music all the way. The McFarland compositions come to life again with a real presence, and the improvising & swinging manage to give the whole session living, breathing relevance and a contemporary timelessness.

This one is a winner!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Dan Brubeck Quartet, Live From the Cellar, Celebrating the Music and Lyrics of Dave & Iola Brubeck

Iola Brubeck, life partner of Dave Brubeck, set a number of Brubeck's songs to lyrics. The Dan Brubeck Quartet got the good idea to address some of this music on their new release Live From the Cellar (Blue Forest DB15001 2-CD set).

It's a good group consisting of Dan Brubeck (son of Dave) on drums, Adam Thomas on bass and vocals, Steve Kaldestad on saxophone and Tony Foster at the piano. Everyone sounds well in a modern bop-ish-and-beyond context not far removed from Dave's classic gatherings yet contemporized.

The vocal numbers are some very familiar items, some obscure, but all worthwhile. So we get "In Your Own Sweet Way," but then also "Summer Song," "Lord, Lord," originally sung by Carmen McRae, and others. They all fare well with Iola's lyrics, as sung in a matter-of-fact way here by bassist Adan Thomas, who may remind just slightly of Chet Baker as a vocalist, only without the croon element.

It's a beautiful program, spiced by new instrumental versions of "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and "Take Five," which given the talent of the group are much more than throw-ins.

Anyone who admired Brubeck the composer will no doubt appreciate as I did the vocal versions and the revelations of hearing them well-done.

The album is most enjoyable. I recommend you listen to this one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ran Blake, Ghost Tones, Portraits of George Russell

The album up for discussion today has a kind of inevitability to it, not in any predictable, formulaic way, but because of closeness and complimentary affinity. Pianist-composer-conceptualist Ran Blake was long a big fan of the music of George Russell in the early days and later of course was for many years his colleague on the faculty of the New England Conservatory. Musically both went about creating new music-jazz nexuses, each in their own way, that heightened their individual brilliances while putting them both in the principal innovative stream of artists from the '50s onwards.

That Ran Blake should devote an album to "Portraits of George Russell," with the principal title being "Ghost Tones" (a-side 0001), has a rightness to it that the extraordinary contents very much confirm.

This is a part of Ran Blake's 80th-birthday celebration, and rightfully so. He has been an institution over the years. His stature as an important innovator continues to grow. And on this disk he shows us his evolved brilliance of interpretation in relation to the compositions of George Russell and the standards George rearranged so strikingly. There are also some Blake originals and it all adds up to an exceptional outing.

Ran is at the forefront throughout on piano and electric piano with some striking solo reworkings of classics like "Stratusphunk" (which Ran first recorded in 1966 on the seminal ESP solo disk). But there is a new version of "Ezz-Thetic," too, that has a striking immediacy to it.

The album is conceived of as a sort of musical biography of Russell. With or without that context, though, we get some remarkable music. There are duets and larger ensemble re-creations, like the main theme from "Living Time," all essential listening and much more than a simple "greatest hits" redone. It has the stamp of Ran Blake the re-creator and creator, the supreme interpreter and the innovative, acute melodic-harmonic force. His player teammates on the album are former Russell and NEC students and they fit in perfectly with voicings and/or solo work that maintain the high standards of the outing throughout.

It all shines very brightly. A perfect tribute that reforges Russell's critical legacy anew, celebrates his music and in so doing shows us the acute brilliance of Ran Blake in his 80th year.

A fabulous disk! Do not miss this one.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Shrine Big Band, Swamp Music, with Eric Plaks

The Shrine Big Band is a dynamic 14-member ensemble who got together to record in the Manhattan School of Music Recording Studio right before Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012. They managed to get a good CD of music before the winds and flooding reached the city. We get to hear the results on Swamp Music (self released).

Eric Plaks, whose music has been a part of this page in the last several months, is on piano and contributes two of his compositions, "Cecilian Mafia" and the title piece, dedicated to Cecil Taylor and Bill Dixon, respectively. Trombonist James Rogers contributes "Gnomes on the Move" and "Quickie." Trombonist Mark Broschinsky gives us his "Anger Management." Tenor sax Alan Davis comes through with "Theme 3." Trombonist Matt McDonald chimes in with "Miss Sunshine." And there is a group improv, "Sandman's Near," which they managed to get recorded as the winds were picking up.

The compositions are substantial in an avant freebop realm. The band has strength and clout, they are well rehearsed and yet give us the spontaneity of avant freedom as a part of their approach. Solos are generally very good, including those by Plaks, Justin Wood on tenor, Dan Blankinship on trumpet, Justin Rothberg on electric guitar, McDonald on bone and Austin Becker on alto together, Josh Lawrence on trumpet with Broschinsky and Plaks in a three-way, and finally McDonald and Davis alone.

Jon Pannikar and Motoki Mihara form the solid drums and bass rhythm team.

If the naming of names seems a bit tedious, it does give you an idea of who is responsible for this, basically New York lesser-knowns who show they can put together a first-class big band with exciting charts and vibrant soloing.

In all you hear some excellent sounds on this. The difficulties of economics may mean that we may not be hearing this band much in the future, but that is not because they are unworthy. There is a good bit of talent here and one can only hope they can gather together and do more in the future.

As it stands this is a very pleasant surprise. An avant jazz big band with grit and drive! Grab this one if you like new large ensemble possibilities in the out-there mode. The Shrine Big Band is a good one!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Samuel Blais, David Liebman, Cycling

Young saxophonist Samuel Blais studied with David Liebman at the Manhattan School of Music. The two were touring as part of a saxophone quartet. In Toronto they had a day off. Dave suggested they put together a quartet date and Samuel eagerly complied, calling on bassist Morgan Moore and drummer Martin Auguste, fixtures on the local scene who happened to be free. The result is the lively album Cycling (Effendi 137).

Samuel plays baritone, alto and soprano in the session; Dave plays both soprano and tenor. They pool their compositions, Samuel with four, Dave with two, plus the standard "Taste of Honey."

Things went very well indeed as the "tapes" were rolling. The compositional frameworks swing and there are generally some changes underneath it all. Blais and Liebman sound excellent as soloists and in a two-part setting, bassist Moore has a deeply evocative woody tone and plays very nice things. Auguste swings with a fine sense of the set and the sounds it can make.

Blais turns out to be quite excellent here. Liebman is his usual incredibly limber, masterful self. Put the two together and you have a wonderful front line with Blais holding his own, especially on baritone, but in any case flourishing alongside Lieb and keeping pace. I like the way the head structures make use of the two-sax sound but then the solos are what make this especially exciting. People may take Lieb for granted these days but they should not. Both he and Blais come at you with all the fire and finesse you could ask for, and the rhythm team gets a swinging froth on it all that makes this a sure winner. If you love the Lieb of the Elvin Jones days this has some of that open fire.

It's one of Lieb's best outings of late and Blais sounds great, too. Get this one if you can.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Elina Duni Quartet, Dallendyshe

A good number of the artists I follow today in the jazz realm I was introduced to during my fairly long tenure as a writer for Cadence magazine. That was where I first encountered Albanian singer Elina Duni and I am happy so say she continues to thrive and develop, with now in release a second album of her quartet for ECM (type her name in the search box for the first) entitled Dallendyshe (ECM B0023137-02).

As is the way with Elina, Albanian folk songs are carefully selected and reworked for the quartet, with all four members having a hand in the end result. The current album thematically coheres around songs of love and exile. Elina's voice is beautifully nuanced and the rest of the quartet gives us a reflective and vibrant instrumental backbone to it all. Colin Vallon on piano, Patrice Moret on double bass and Norbert Pfammatter on drums form a crucial part of the presentation, with long flowing lines, loosely ECM-jazz sorts of lyricism, and the ad lib spontaneity of jazz at its lyrical best. Vallon's nicely wrought pianism is in many ways a perfect foil for the tender fluidity of Elina's vocals.

The songs themselves are wonderful examples of the Eastern European tonality of the folk tradition, with minor keys a big factor in the inimitable way of the region. The arrangements comtemporize and contextualize the songs and make them a center of a lucidly melodic jazz.

There is nothing quite like this music today. I must admit I tend to thrive on it. The new album ranks among her very best. Hear it and travel to a musical world where pain and trouble, loss and placelessness transform into something of real beauty. Elina draws parallels with the blues in the liner notes. It is there to hear, not in terms of notes, but rather in the power of the music to create transcendence.

Great album!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Support Vision20 Festival In NYC Next Month

Reposted from Facebook:

Words of wisdom from musician William Parker -- "Arts for Art is one of those organizations that does work 24/7 in every aspect of the field, from presenting the music, to producing the music, on a level that is uncompromising..." -- http://tinyurl.com/o7tazas

The Vision Campaign is on in the midst of our 20th Anniversary to ensure there is a future for FreeJazz. There are many ways to support. Attending Vision 20 and contributing to the campaign are both great ways to get involved. It is the personal connections that matter, so we ask that you share this campaign with your contacts in any and all ways you can. Sharing is also Action. Thank you four support and we look forward to seeing you at Vision 20!

DONATE: http://www.artsforart.org/support/donations

TICKETS to VISION 20 (July 5-12): http://www.artsforart.org/event/vf20/schedule ‪#‎Vision20th‬

Art All Ways, Patricia Nicholson Parker / Lilith

Szilard Mezei, Tul a Tiszan Innen Ensemble

I have been appreciating the music of Serbian new jazz composer-instrumentalist Szilard Mezei for some time now, ever since I came to review one of his albums years ago for Cadence. What I've covered here you can search out via typing his name in the box above. There are some new ones and today I look at an especially good one. It's a two-CD set of Szilard with his larger group, and the album is titled Szilard Mezei Tul a Tiszan Innen Ensemble (WMAS CD 252/253). Szilard plays viola as part of a ten-member tentet, including two violins, flute-alto flute, bass clarinet-alto sax, trombone, piano, marimba-vibraphone. acoustic bass and drums.

The emphasis is on Mezei's compositions with free space and space for solos, all of interest. His music continues to evolve so that we get these days some strikingly contrasting melodic juxtapositions that have a new music-folkish-jazz earthiness, that repeat at times but in longer phrases that mostly have more in common with some of Braxton's works than with minimalism, but always in original ways that take some listening to fully appreciate. The works heard here are based on Hungarian folk themes, but transformed in ways only Szilard can accomplish in how it all lays out for us.

The music is a bit less dark than some of his earlier work, but no less the better for it. He is still definitively himself.

There is so much good music of note on this set that a track-by-track description is unnecessary and could be a bit tedious. Ostinatos form a backbone to the structures at times, but then the thematic arcs constructed on top of these figures give the overall sound an unexpected multi-dimensionality. The sound of the ensemble has a distinctive timbral quality which Mezei brings out front by the special way he divides up the musical material between instruments.

This is definitely one of his best recordings to date. There is much to absorb and both an avantness and a down-to-earth folksiness that make for uncanny listening.

Very highly recommended!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Devin Gray, RelativE ResonancE

Drummer-composer Devin Gray has assembled a crack unit of some of New York's finest improvising artists and turned them loose on his compositions in the new CD RelativE ResonancE (Skirl).

Eight numbers make the most of linear and rhythmic complexities, showing compositional girth and improvisational breadth. Devin's intricate and substantially original drumming forms the backbone for the ensemble work. The prowess of Chris Speed, tenor sax and clarinet, Kris Davis, piano, and Chris Tordini, bass, maximizes the potential of the difficult composed parts while opening the music up to the freely improvised lines and textures that set each apart as special players.

The title comes out of a quote from Tony Williams, on how he sought to ensure that the turning of both top and bottom heads of each drum were simpatico so that "relative resonance" prevailed. Devin takes this in a wider sense, by trying to achieve the same sort of sonic presentness with the full quartet. And they succeed. They are definitely mutually attuned.

There are some very intricate through-composed pieces where each player is called upon to play virtuoso parts that juxtapose with and against each other to give out with that sort of resonance Devin lives within. There are a few more blowing-oriented vehicles interspersed throughout the program to contrast. It works!

Devin is an artist with a vision. All that becomes clear as you listen to the album. He is something else, defining what a drummer-composer-leader can be today. The choice of musical partners seems pretty near ideal in making his vision "sound." They have played together for five years and the recording shows the sort of rapport and closeness that can come out of long-term musical interaction.

This is avant jazz of the highest sort. You need to hear it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Clare Fischer Orchestra, Music for Strings, Percussion and the Rest

Clare Fischer was one of those artist-composers who did things as he felt them, never being content to work in a narrowly defined zone, but branching forward in unexpected ways. His music was always worth hearing, a talented pianist-arranger-composer who added modern classical elements to his jazz work.

We get a good chance to hear his orchestral music on a release by the Clare Fischer Orchestra entitled Music for Strings, Percussion and the Rest (Clavo 201309). It is a compendium of some 11 works, recorded over a period of time, a sequel to the earlier release After the Rain (see the September 25, 2014 posting on this blog for a review of that).

The pieces were written at various points throughout his career, and conducted by Fischer himself, by Gary Foster and by Clare's son Brent. There is an arrangement of Mancini's "Two for the Road," a Brent arrangement of Clare's "Suddenly," and two brief works by Brent himself. Otherwise, this is pure Clare with an eclectic yet personal synthetic modernism joining with elements of the jazz tinge one might expect to find.

There are lyrical elements, harmonically rich expanses, and an unpredictability that was the special domain of Fischer.

Don't expect this to be a "jazz" album per se. It is Fischer the classicist and very worthwhile for all that. Quite recommended!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Michael Dessen Trio, Resonating Abstractions

In the aftermath of the passing of the master of new jazz, Ornette Coleman, we experience an example of the pianoless avant jazz ensemble, something in many ways Ornette institutionalized, though Rollins and Mulligen prefigured.

It's a matter of trombone, acoustic bass and drums today, in the example of the Michael Dessen Trio and their album Resonating Abstractions (Clean Feed 291). Michael prevails on the trombone and electronics, Christopher Tordini plays an out-front acoustic bass, and Dan Weiss gives us some very inventive drums.

It is a seven-part suite composed by Michael especially for this trio. There are intricate composed figurations that act as guideposts throughout, and serve as springboards for free improvisations of an advanced kind. Dessen's electronics seem generally to be activated by his trombone playing and in a very real sense give us a second set of timbral colors from the front line.

So Dessen comes forward in three important ways and sets the definition for what happens on the suite via compositions, trombone prowess and electronic manipulations. Tordini and Weiss have a huge impact on the outcome, though, with what they do inside and outside the compositional structures. The end result is very contemporary avant trio work that includes new music abstract elements along with "post-jazz" improvisational brilliance.

It's one of those recordings where one finds more and more to appreciate as one listens repeatedly. The trombone work is examplary, the trio as a whole fully integrated and advanced, the bass and drumming in the front ranks of innovation and the compositional structures definitive.

It all works very well as a total aesthetic statement. Michael Dessen takes us to a very good place. Highly recommended.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Russ Nolan, Call it What You Want

I am back after a computer-problem hiatus. All is again well and I am happy to continue. Today we look at tenor up-comer Russ Nolan and his album Call it What You Want (Rhinoceruss Music 04). It features a very accomplished quartet of Russ on tenor and soprano, Mike Eckroth on piano, Daniel Foose on acoustic bass and Brian Fishler on drums. They are augmented and abetted by Yasuyo Kimura and Victor Rendon on a battery of Latin percussion.

With the exception of Weill's perennial "My Ship" done in a nicely Latin groove, these are all Russ Nolan originals. They are dynamic and well-written. They give the band plenty to springboard off of and so they do. Russ has a not-too-derivatively influenced sound that combines Shorter, Trane, perhaps Liebman and those of that ilk, but very fluidly and distinctively Nolanesque in result. He solos with an assuredness, a fire and a maturity that is great to hear.

Mike Eckroth has important presence throughout, with a modern post-Tyner approach and lots of good swinging ideas. The rhythm section and percussionists give us lots of in-the-pocket pop-smack that makes everything groove.

It all heralds the arrival of Russ Nolan as a serious contender for the tenor-soprano middle ground in jazz. There is no rehashing or rote recreations so much as there is a complete mastery of a fired contemporary mainstream that has soul and sophistication in equal amounts--and some Afro-Latin grooving that's easy to appreciate.

This one is a winner!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Felipe Salles, Ugandan Suite, with David Liebman

The music on today's post is of a very ambitious sort, a suite of music combining jazz and traditional African strains, very successfully so. Felipe Salles and his Ugandan Suite (Tapestry 76023-2) is no joke. It is serious composed-improvised music for sextet.

I am one who has long favored African-jazz meldings, and not just because I am a percussionist-drummer by persuasion who also plays other instruments. It is because the rhythmic complexities of the African mainland lend themselves well to the modern jazz ethos when done properly. Here we do certainly have that.

Felipe Salles composed the music and plays tenor, baritone, flutes and bass clarinet; David Liebman plays wooden flute, soprano and tenor. The two-horn tandem often enough has important composed melodic material and both solo in ways you would expect from Liebman, but also very well for Salles too. Nando Michelin has a fundamental role to play on piano and solos idiomatically and very nicely. The three-person percussion-drum team lay out an excellent rhythmic counterpoint. Damascus Kafumbe and Rogerio Boccato excel at the hand percussion; Bertram Lehmann does a great job on the trap drums. Finally Keala Kaumeheiwa has a central role on acoustic bass, laying down ostinatos with just the right leverage and sometimes playing a melodic role in the compositional passages.

The suite comes at us in five movements. It is a rhythmically vivid, compositionally inventive and soloistically exceptional work and recording. It makes me smile every time I hear it. It will no doubt do the same for you, so grab a copy if you can. An Afro-jazz triumph!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Eric Plaks Quintet, Live at Bronx Community College, 2009

The inside-to-out inclusiveness of pianist Eric Plaks is showcased on the recently released 2009 date with his quintet, Live at Bronx Community College (CIMPoL). It continues on where his studio date (Cadence Jazz) leaves off (see the May 1, 2015 posting for a review of that). The Plaks compositions are set up by a version of "Naima" and one original by tenor saxist Don Chapman, "Elvin Out."

Chapman and Alan Davis form a two-tenor frontline, Leco Reis and Jon Panikkar are the rhythm team on bass and drums, respectively, and then of course Plaks centers things on the piano.

The tenor players take on pre-outside styles as well as the free avant realms. They excel at the latter. Plaks once again shows his piano versatility and remains a soloists of great interest who can channel Cecil but then give out with convincing synthesizing of earlier styles in very much his own way. He is an artist very much worth hearing.

And the compositions stand out too as worthy of our attention.

The live ambiance of the concert gives us an edgy spontaneity that helps push forward the in-the-moment expressivity--which of course is what an in-person jazz presentation does so well if things are right. That's much the case here, surely.

It's a very good listen and another feather in Eric Plaks' cap.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Kaze, with Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura, Uminari

Kaze is the quartet formed by pianist Satoki Fujii, her trumpet playing partner Natsuki Tamura, fellow trumpetist Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins. I named their Tornado a record of the year on these pages in 2013 (see the October 17, 2013 post for the review) and now this spring we have a new one, Uminari (Circum-Libra 203). It in many ways continues where Tornado left off, with a compositional framing that is strong and strongly present, with thoughtful avant solo work and a group freedom-in-structure that showcases the personalities of all four players. Everyone contributes a composition except Fujii, who gives us two.

The direction is forward moving on the modern avant front, with each piece showing its own trajectory in ways that blend new music and free jazz in a potent original mix. Fujii is a pianist that defies easy definition and her playing on this one is as much an important part of the proceedings as one might expect. This however is very much the group effort. The distinctive two-trumpet tandem of Tamura and Pruvost give a special sound when playing compositional passages and then give us two very distinctive sound colorists as they solo. Orins is a well-schooled and genuinely original drummer in how he avoids cliche and maintains percussive thrust throughout, whether playing time or in full rubato mode.

Put the whole thing together with the compositional motives, moods and varied sequencing of who plays and who lays out and you get something avant in ways that are well thought through. It all keeps the serious listener busy and fascinated, involved from moment-to-moment following the many event developments and their very musical and often unexpected twists and turns.

Another great one from Kaze! Give this one your ears and it will give back in kind.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Marcello Magliocchi and Trio 876+, otto sette sei

From Italy today we have the avant Trio 876+ and their CD otto sette sei (Improvising Beings ib33). Trio 876 consists of Marcello Magliocchi on drums, Matthias Boss on violin and Jean-Michel van Schouwburg on vocals. The "plus" are guest artists Roberto del Piano on electric bass and, for two of the 12 pieces, Paolo Falasacone on prepared piano.

This is strictly sound-sculpture oriented expression in a free zone. They find the zone and work consistently in and around it. The lineage to Il Groupo or MEV is not so far fetched in that they all share an uncompromising nature, but the path Trio 876+ travel is theirs, surely.

Perhaps the first thing you notice is the wide-ranging semi-dadaistic vocal presence of van Schouwburg, who gives out with a considerable array of timbres, expressions and dramatically serious silliness. Those who recall John Fischer's "Poum!" vocal style may hear parallels.

There is openness and transparency in the sounds. Space lingers as an important element. Boss's violin is abstract (though his one appearance on piano is a bit more out-"jazzy" sounding). Magliocchi's drums/percussion tends to be irregular/asymmetrical in a modern sense and at times rather sparse but sonically diverse. The electric bass and prepared piano of the guests fit in with the broad spacious expanse of the music.

It is music of an advanced improvisational nature. Not pointillistic so much as periodistic and evenemental. The confirmed avant new music improv listener will no doubt take to this music, as I did, after a few listens. Those not versed in the idiom will need to make a serious effort and hear this more than once. It is a genuine statement and for that I do find it of real interest.

Monday, June 1, 2015

David Borgo & Paul Pellegrin, Kronomorfic, Entangled

Kronomorfic is an ambitious undertaking for octet and four guest performers engaging in polymetric time. It is headed by tenor-sopranist David Borgo and drummer Paul Pellegrin, who share the compositional duties. Entangled (OA2 22112) is the recording at hand. It is carefully wrought and well-thought out compositionally, with room for solo time, often enough in a through-composed, multi-metered context. The effect ultimately is avant and free sounding, though the ensemble often enough works to realize explicitly directed results.

In addition to Borgo and Pellegrin, the ensemble consists of Ben Schachter on tenor for all but one work, plus John Fumo on trumpet and flugelhorn, Anthony Smith on mallets, Peter Sprague on nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, Paul Garrison on electric guitar and effects, Andy Zacharias on contrabass, and the four guests: Michael Dressen on trombone, Emily Hay on flute, Brad Dutz on vibes and marimba, and Mark Dresser on contrabass.

There are times when the cycling of motives sounds vaguely Braxtonian, or even a bit related to Tim Berne in his latest Snakeoil phase, but otherwise this is intricate, original avant jazz that thrives on complex forms of swinging polymetric composed freedom.

I've been appreciating what David Borgo has been coming up with for a long time. He is a West Coaster who innovates and creates excellent music without a good deal of fanfare but never flags in so doing. Paul Pellegrin is a simpatico force in this new music. Together they have created something very worthwhile, with the help of an exceptional group of musical compadres who realize the music with feeling and solo well when called upon in keeping with the special modern style of the music.

In short Entangled is in every way a winner. Kronomorfic is the perfect vehicle for the Borgo-Pellegrin approach. I hope they can keep together for many live appearances and further recordings in the years to come!