Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Linda Sharrock Network, Live at the BAB-ILO

The comeback of Linda Sharrock, edgy vocalist of extraordinary power and presence, is not just notable for her vocal expressions. Her committed avant-free exuberance seems to get the very best out of her sidemen. This is no more true than in her latest release with her Network aggregation, Live at the BAB-ILO (improvising beings), which captures the cacaphonic brilliance of the band at that venue on August 6th of this year. 

With her is a potent Euro-Japanese configuration of excellence: Mario Rechtern, baritone, soprano, sopranino saxophones, saxolin;  Itaru Oki, trumpet, flugelhorn, flutes; Lucien Johnson, tenor saxophone; Claude Parle, accordion; Yoram Rosilio, double bass; and Makoto Sato, drums. Together with Linda's inimitable, extreme expression they rise above the everyday to a free height not often reached these days.

Make no mistake, this is music not for the timid or those seeking an easy repose. It is free jazz directly in-your-face, uncompromising yet filled with the human in its quirky universality.

Grab this at Bandcamp!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nate Wooley, Purple Patio, with Hugo Antunes, Jorge Queijo, Mario Costa, Chris Corsano

What happens when you put avant trumpet virtuoso Nate Wooley in the company of bassist Hugo Antunes and three drummers (Jorge Queijo, Mario Costa and Chris Corsano)? The answer is Purple Patio (No Business NBLP 95), a big, hugely expressive, explosive juggernaut of avant jazz.

This limited edition release gives you a charge forward into the fray of controlled and deliberate chaos. The three drummers provide a broad wash of smart sounds that is a product of close listening and productive talent. And there is space for Hugo Antunes' dramatic bass soundings, a second dimension to the whole that comes out of intuitive certainty and accomplished technique.

Nate Wooley takes advantage of the open singularity of the backdrop to be very much his special self, a trumpet voice with as always a great deal to say.

This is one of those sessions that lays itself out as a striking totality, a complete sound sculpture that creates a universe of possibilities which only can come about when five primo free jazzers come prepared to create something fresh and very vibrant.

You wont need a map to follow this adventurous musical journey. Just let go and the sounds will take you someplace very nice.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Andrew Cyrille Quartet, The Declaration of Musical Independence

Over the years Andrew Cyrille has proven himself as one of the premier avant jazz drummers in the music, an extraordinary creative force as soloist and band member--and band leader. For his latest, The Declaration of Musical Independence (ECM 2430), he assembles a band not entirely typical for him, but exceptional in its breadth and scope of musical expression.

Bill Frisell is here, a dynamo of electric guitar finesse and power; then there is Richard Teitelbaum, a pioneer of new jazz as a synthesizer proponent and a formidable pianist. Ben Street may not be as well known, but his double bass role on this album is exactly what is needed.

Andrew sounds as beautiful and as innovative as ever. Everything he does lays just right, whether it be as the open free time melder for the quartet or as a profound if all-too-brief soloist. This is about the group sound more than as a vehicle for him to show us his singular brilliance, but he nevertheless manages to give us a major statement on the drums as the music forges on with great presence.

There are originals by Frisell, Teitelbaum and Street. They give structure and purpose while allowing plenty of room for individual and group soloing of a high level. Then there are four-way free improvs that stand out for their special sonics and electricity.

It's a free and voltage-tapped music that gives everyone space and ambient direction of which they make ideal use. The result is startlingly unique and reminds us that the use of some electricity can still give us every bit of the open subtlety of an all-acoustic date.

I cannot recommend this one more strongly than I do here. This is one of the more profound avant jazz releases of the year. Hear it!

Friday, November 11, 2016

John Butcher and Stale Liavik Solberg, So beautiful, it starts to rain

Avant soprano and tenor magician John Butcher returns for a  bracing duet with drummer Stale Liavik Solberg on So beautiful, it starts to rain (Clean Feed 390). After a significant session with the Red Trio that I covered here a short time ago, he seems to be on a roll.

Here he turns in a rousing set recorded live at Cafe Oto. Solberg keeps up quite effectively with Butcher, matching him sonically and gesturally, whether it be a matter of high-pitched cries, spatial explorations or massive blocks of impactful energy.

Of course a sax and drum duo can take any number of directions, for better or worse. What's remarkable with this set is the artistic creativity each reaches deep to achieve. It tumbles freely forward, exploring expressive spontaneities with a good sense of space and pace.

It's another fine example of Butcher's art and speaks well for the drumming musicality of Solberg as well.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Ravi Shankar, In Hollywood, 1971

Ravi Shankar was at the peak of his artistic powers when he invited a select group of friends and colleagues to his home in Hollywood for an informal concert on June 12, 1971. The music was captured in good fidelity on tape and we can at last hear it some 45 years later on Ravi Shankar in Hollywood, 1971, a two-LP or two-CD set now released as Northern Spy 073.

With him is his then ever-present tabla accompanist, the great Alla Rakha. Their long developing rapport is in full flower as they explore the possibilities of Raga Vibhas, Raga Paramashwari (composed by Shankar), a Dhun, and Raga Sindhi Bhairavi. The interplay between the two is something to hear, as it most always was in those days. Ravi himself is inspired to delve deeply and brilliantly into each raga with the kind of insights that made him one of the greatest sitar exponents in the history of the music.

Heedless of time constraints and fully engaged in the intricate unfolding of the improvisations, Ravi and Alla Rakha provide us with one of those special concerts expressly designed for appreciation by Hindustani music cognoscenti.

It is a wondrous moment that all who appreciate great Indian classical in general and Ravi Shankar in particular will welcome with joy. It also serves nicely to those who may not know his music well and would like to hear something exemplary.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Jorgen Mathisen, Christian Meaas Svendsen, Andreas Wildhegen, Momentum

From Norway we have the fire-y, dynamic trio of Jorgen Mathisen on soprano and tenor sax, Christian Meaas Svendsen on bass and Andreas Wildhagen on drums holding forth with avant free jazz acumen on their album Momentum (Clean Feed 391CD).

Four segments segue from extended sax and bass techniques and color drumming to a sort of post-late-Trane foment. These are accomplished artists in a special zone where all move directly across aural territory as invigorating as it is uncompromising.

Mathisen is a holy terror, a dynamo of huge sounding, fast moving dramatics. Svendsen and Wildhegen keep up and plow the music forward with excitement and unrelenting drive.

Time goes by quickly but eventfully. Before you know it all is over, but not before the trio has made a major free statement.

These three are outstanding proponents of the jazz-historical inflections of musical freedom.  I suggest that you check this one out if you seek a fresh set of voices for edgy outness! Go!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Music Soup Organ Trio, Cut to the Chase

A very good organ trio is hard to beat. One that takes the tradition into the present-day is especially interesting, to me anyway. Such a trio is Athens' own Music Soup Organ Trio, as you can hear nicely on their album Cut to the Chase (Chicken Coup 7025).

The band consists productively of Evgenia Karlafti on organ (as well as piano, electric piano, and some effective appearances as vocalist), Nestor Dimopoulos on electric guitar, and Vagelis Kotzabasis on drums. For two cuts they are supplemented by the solo worthy trumpet, tenor and trombone of Dimitris Papadopoulos, Dimitri Vassilakis, and Antonis Andreou, respectively.

Nestor writes many of the originals and there are some corkers as well as some ballads. Evgenia gets some compositional credit, too. It's generally good stuff, swinging in intricate ways, funking and laying back.

The drumming is in the pocket, and the guitar and organ work flourishes with taste and chops. 

This is a band with its own personality. And it moves the organ trio ahead without a lot of the requisite Jimmy Smith cliches. Good job!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Baird Hersey & Prana with Nexus, Chiaroscuro

Baird Hersey and his pathbreaking vocal group Prana have embarked on a journey to an evolved, highly original kind of pan-world, post-minimal music on the latest, Chiaroscuro (Bent Records BRS9). The group is paired down for this program to just seven singers, Baird as harmonic tenor, plus harmonic baritone, mezzo-soprano, two altos and two bassists. They get an uncanny sound, a little heavier on the bottom end thanks to the lack of a soprano. But this leaves an open space for the upper soundings of harmonic overtones, so there is a full spectrum of ranges nonetheless, and that sound is part of what distinguishes the ensemble in key passages. You must hear it!

For this set they are joined by the talented percussion quartet Nexus, among whom one may well recognize several former members of Reich's ensemble. They play various tuned and untuned instruments, including the remarkable vistaphone, which is a set of chimes tuned to the harmonic overtone series. They pair in eerie fashion with Prana's harmonic tenor and baritone.

Performed here are two suites composed by Baird, "Chiaroscuro" and "Vox Pulsatio." They are extraordinarily striking, beautiful works that give us Prana's spiritually vibrant style mixed with Balinese, Taiko, Buddhist chant, minimalist classic and any manner of other elements.

To describe the music in further detail would not get you any closer to the actual hearing. It is heartening music, both eclectic and extraordinarily original. Yet the roots for it all go back many centuries, perhaps as far back as we all go as conscious, spiritual beings.

It is one hopes one further step out of many more to come from Baird and Prana. Superlatives I could add on surely, but you simply MUST hear this, because there is nothing like it!

My highest praise to all involved! Encore!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Kayle Brecher, This is Life

Jazz singer Kayle Brecher deserves your attention. Her album This is Life (Penchant Four S1293P4) makes for us a stimulating program of originals and rearranged classics, "Moon Dreams," for example, which you may well remember in the Flora Purim waxing, here with harp (Gloria Galante), guitar (Frank Butrey) and some excellent bass from Ratso Harris. She takes chances and improvises well around the song structure. She gives us nicely lyricised versions of "Red Clay" and "Dolphin's Dance." And the originals are rootsy, establishing for herself a soulful home base.

The varying instrumentation is a nice element here, too. Harp (Galante or Brandee A. Younger) brings an open, cosmic touch to many of the numbers. The aforementioned Butrey has some excellent guitar flourishes. Ratzo is a beautiful constant on bass. The formidable Grant Calvin Weston holds forth nicely on drums. Cameo appearances by Matt Cappy on trumpet, Benjamin Sutin, violin, and David Dzubinsky on piano make it continually new and jazzworthy.

It is one of those albums that sounds and feels right, loose and performative from first to last. Kayle is the complete vocalist, the complete leader on this date. And it is serious fun! Listen.