Monday, July 31, 2017

Paul Rutherford, Sabu Toyozumi, The Conscience

The late Paul Rutherford (d. 2007) was one of new music-free jazz's most accomplished and daring trombonists. Many reading this do not need to be told. Drummer Sabu Toyozumi is an energetic, imaginative and fire-y exponent of free drumming in Japan. A series of annual get togethers in Tokoname of Sabu and select others led in 1999 to a duet meeting of Sabu and Paul Rutherford. The results were well recorded and now happily released as The Conscience (No Business CD).

The all-over sonic barrages of Sabu are exceptional here and set up a beautiful counterbalance to the Rutherford extroversions and trombone explosions.

It is an entirely free performance, and it is so with no flagging or coasting. Both are completely zoned-in and give us nuanced and inventive brilliance from first to last. It could be profitably heard as a kind of primer on the free jazz duet, on free trombone and drum excellence, on what a very productive duet exploration can be.

I am enjoying this one completely, repeatedly. All those interested or curious about freedom improvisations will do well to hear this one.

Very recommended.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Daniel Schlappi, Marc Copland, More Essentials

I have long appreciated pianist Marc Copland as a talented and expressively productive member of what one might call the Post-Bill-Evans School. Everything he plays seems right to me, most always.

A new album is out, a collaboration between Copland and bassist Daniel Schlappi. It is called More Essentials (Catwalk 150013-2). The title would seem to indicate that there was an earlier volume, but I will leave that to the discographers. My concern right now is of course this album.

The program consists of a number of reflective originals by Schlappi and/or Copland, most of which fall under the rubric "Essentials." All are stimulating and reflectively strong. But then there is a very well-chosen set of standards to be heard here, too.

They range from Miles' "Blue in Green," "All of You," Joni Mitchell's "Rainy Night House," Scott LaFaro's "Gloria's Step," Horace Silver's "Song for My Father," and others. The considerable prowess of Daniel Schlappi's bass combines with Marc Copland's pianistic rightness for a truly inspired sort of confluence.

This was one of those albums that I heard once, and immediately wanted to hear again. So, I put it on another time. With my helter skelter schedule I do not often do this. It is an indication of how the music reached me.

Two genuine jazz artistes inspiring each other to a high, a very high level? Yes. Listen to this, by all means!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Anne Vanschothorst, Beautiful World

I am generally not one to quibble about musical categories. Yet the internet has made categorical hair-splitting of tantamount importance. So when faced with a release that might fit in a number of blogs I do, I must mull it over somewhat carefully. If I post my review of harpist-composer Anne Vanschothorst's CD Beautiful World  (HSM) on this blogsite it is not because it would not equally belong on my Classical-Modern Music Review site. I place it here because I think perhaps the widest audience might be reached, an audience well versed in ambiance with a sort of quasi-ECM spaciousness.

To start at the top, I have been covering the beautiful harp artistry of Anne Vanschothorst for a while (do a search for her music in the search box of the classical blog). This new one has as a simple premiss some 11 compositions, all featuring Anne's meditative harp and one or more additional performers. So we get Anne with clarinetist Michael Moore, percussionist-drummer Arthur Bont, Thijs de Melker on organ, piano, or bass, Rebecca Star on vocals, and Jon Willem Troost on cello.

It is indeed a music of beauty, ambient not in the tonal fluffdom of typical "new age" music but in the concentric affectivity of Satie and beyond.

There is music anyone might appreciate--for example my spouse and one of the housemates both responded well as they passed through my listening space. And it also offers substantial results for those who demand more exacting content, which I of course do.

It is a moving slice of harp bliss and incisive compositional ambient moodiness. Perhaps it is Anne's best yet! In any case I do strongly recommend this one to you.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Pol Belardi's Force, Riaz Khabirpour, Kaiser Quartett, Creation/Evolution

There is refreshing and ambitious artistry to be heard on Pol Belardi's Force and their album Creation/Evolution (Challenge Records Int. 71181).  The Force Quartet I gather is based in Germany. Pol Belardi's electric bass implacably puts the music on solid bedrock. The other quartet members play a central role in realizing Belardi's compositions and arrangements. David Fettmann on alto is energetic but not on the edge of energy playing. That happens to fit the unwinding musicality of line and harmony that Belardi favors. To call it post-Shorterian first occurred to me as I listened a final time while writing these lines. It is not wrong. There is a clarity and resonance you can feel in this music and though it does not strike me was being derivative of Shorter's writing, it does share with Shorter's compositions a kind of advanced melodic-harmonic matter-of-factness that is a good part of what makes this music in essence what it is. But there is more.

Back to the quartet. Jerone Klein on piano has a full musicality and backbones the music while nicely embellishing improvisatorily as called upon. And Neils Engel drums creatively and brings out the compositional and propulsive needs well.

For about half the pieces the quartet is joined by guitarist Riaz Khabirpour and he adds considerable musical texture and finesse. The Kaiser String Quartett also adds fullness and a distinctive compositional complexity and richness to the music on half the program. Pol manages to integrate both into the artistic whole in ways that feel organic and natural.

The sum of the musical results is very motivated by the compositions and how they lay out over time. There is an almost-classical logic to the unfolding of each piece, and a great deal of musical riches to explore and appreciate. It is not quite ECM-ish, not exactly neo-Third Stream, not exactly anything but Belardian. I do sometimes hear an affinity with that old 2LP Keith Jarrett album on Columbia years ago, especially in the string and guitar elements. And it turns out that is a very good thing, a very fulsomely musical thing, and expressive and slightly lyrical thing.
I would think anyone who likes the idea of a jazz composer-centric music will launch into the music positively. I do recommend it as a substantial offering, perhaps more modern contemporary than avant garde, but such distinctions are not important if the music is worthy. It is! Listen.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Harris Eisenstadt, Canada Day Quartet, On Parade

For those who might have missed Harris Eisenstadt's music, and for those that already know, his recent Canada Day Quartet album On Parade (Clean Feed 413) continues the adventurous journey through compositional-improvisational singularity.

The band is chemically-collectively and individually very well suited as a vehicle to take Harris's compositional structures and flesh them out with a special unity-in-disparity. Of course Harris is on drums with his very creative intelligence. He is a drummer's drummer. You listen to his very varied and subtle yet dynamic approach and you hear so much. Nate Wooley is one of the top tier modern-avant trumpeters out there and his work on this album bears out his deserved high status. He's a dynamo. Matt Bauder is one of my favorite tenors these days because he always comes at you with a strong, varied tone and great ideas. Then Pascal Niggenkemper on bass handles the compositional realizations and improvises with equal power. He is a third horn as much as a rhythm mate of always-in-there talent.

You hear the four-way interplay and improvisations with a smile because there simply are no cliches to be heard! And at the same time the compositions are substantial and weighty in ways that point to Eisenstadt's special approach. There are multi-lines and fresh modernisms always.

So once again I must strongly recommend the new one to you. Modern avant jazz has a seminal force in Harris and the Canada Day Quartet. Do not miss this!

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Art of Perelman-Shipp, Volume 2, Tarvos, with Bobby Kapp

So today I present to you my thoughts on the second volume of the ambitious and endlessly absorbing series, The Art of Perelman-Shipp. Volume 2, Tarvos (Leo LR 795). On it we are treated to the trio of Ivo Perelman, tenor sax, Matt Shipp, piano, and one of the more unsung masters of avant jazz drumming, Bobby Kapp.

Kapp has a supreme feel for getting his drums to SOUND, ringingly and musically, and then how to construct a prose of drum eloquence that is perfect for this threesome.

As the other volumes in the series, it is open freedom throughout that is the order of the day.

Matt sounds his usual excellently appropriate self. He is sometimes less overtly soloistic than he usually is, but what he plays is perfect as a pianistic setup for the proceedings and if you listen concentratedly to what he is doing, you hear how what he is doing goes a long way in establishing what is happening. And then there is some very weighty space eventually where he rhapsodizes freely as only he can!

This volume has some exceptional Ivo Perelman tenor. He wills himself into a sort of twilight world where the immediate mingles with a sort of scumbling presence of the past in jazz sax. I hear, almost hallucinate with the resonance of players like Johnny Hodges, Pete Brown, Ben Webster, there yet as a musical apparition, a ghostly wisp of allusions to what no longer exists except in Ivo's masterful channeling of their long silent echoes.

And so the entire program glows with an aura that is palpable yet intangible. It is a testament to the masterful brilliance of the three frozen in a series of brilliant moments.

Perhaps you should start here with the set! It is a prime example of very rooted and eloquent new free jazz.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Rodrigo Amado, Goncalo Almeida, Marco Franco, The Attic

I must say that the work of tenor sax man Rodrigo Amado has over the recent years never failed to leave an excellent impression on me. He is back with a trio of Goncalo Almeida on bass and Marco Franco on drums for the recent CD The Attic (NoBusiness NBCD 98).

It is pure modern avant free jazz in a very open setting. Almeida's double bass grounds everything whether arco or pizzicato; Marco Franco drums his way into an open field with consistent drive and imagination.

And all that sets up nearly infinite possibilities that Rodrigo takes advantage of with some very inspired tenor flights. As one expects, he has a ravishing tone and never flags in his formidable knack to weave endlessly fascinating, soulful and earth stirring lines.

It is an astonishingly great set, in my view. Grab it!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Jared Sims, Change of Address

A new baritone man has arrived. His name is Jared Sims and his latest album is Change of Address (Ropeadope). This modern-day hard bop from the agile baritonist has the torque of a hard hitting organ combo putting it all together nicely behind him.

Jared is joined by Steve Fell on electric guitar, Nina Ott on organ, Chris Lopes on bass and Jared Seabrook on drums. They lock in with the solid grooves that form the bedrock over which everything happens.

And Jared's baritone pushes it all ahead with a stock of good ideas in a post-Pepper-Adams and beyond mode. He has the sound and the good note choice of a formidable baritone exponent.

Seven game originals grace the set and allow Jared to reach maximal expression levels. Steve and Nina spell him with some worthy solos.

In all, good times and good jazz are to be had on Change of Address. Sims comes through and you will be grinning and tapping your foot to this I will safely bet.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Francois Carrier, Michel Lambert, Rafal Mazur, Oneness

OK, there's is another good one out by alto titan Francois Carrier. It is called Oneness (FMR CD444). It is a live date recorded in Krakow, Poland in 2015. Francois is joined by long-time collaborator Michel Lambert on drums and Rafal Mazur on acoustic bass guitar. Rafal gives the music more open spaces than a trio with piano would have, and so there is that much more potential for the three to proceed unhindered by overt harmonies and such.

Now that does not mean that this trio is necessarily better than some of the ones before. You can type Francois' name in the search box above to read my positive thoughts on many of the earlier albums.

All those things aside, the music is strongly motored by the inspiration and suchness of the instrumentation.

Francois is beautifully limber and bursting at the seams with great lining ideas. The man is a fountainhead of energy and form, as much on this one as anywhere. He is one of those who is to the alto in a way what Ali was to boxing. There is continual oblique and unpredictable movement, and the series of "stings" that hit home.

Rafal gives the music continual countermelody, never quite doing what you expect. It gives the music a bottom-center that allows Francois and Michel lots of latitude.

And Michel does what he always seems to do so well--give the asymmetrical  periodicity that expands greatly what diffuse time possibilities are available and actualized.

In sum this is world-class free jazz. You probably owe it to yourself to check it out closely. It is a real kicker!

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Art of Perelman-Shipp, Volume One, Titan, Ivo Perelman, Matt Shipp, William Parker

When a stellar twosome simultaneously release an ambitious set of seven  freely collaborative explorations, The Art of Perelman-Shipp, one would do well to take notice. They have been in tandem more than a few times before, with over 30 recordings released in the past several decades. The new set is both a summing up and a fresh trail blazing. I start today with Volume 1, Titan (Leo 794). I plan to cover all seven on these pages. In the widest sense, they remake in musical terms the astronomical reemergence of Saturn in our solar neighborhood.

The first volume features Ivo Perelman on tenor sax, Matt Shipp on piano, and William Parker on bass. This makes perfect sense, in that Parker is a present-day TITAN of free music (as he has been for many decades), and especially associated with Matt as fellow-members of David Ware's pathbreaking quartet and later as a cornerstone of some of Matt's best trios.

The Volume One program is broken into six segments. All are freely invented and very much a living, flowing interlocking of the highest sort. Some of the best moments are relaxed, concentrated effusions of three-fold invention. Other sections gradually build energy and torque. The entire CD finds all in peak form and intent on scaling the higher climbs of cosmic stratospherics.

Ivo now and then reaches back for some vibrato-laced allusions to older jazz modes. Matt and William reference and channel the rich heritage of the music as well, all made present as they then further empty the cauldrons of fire and fluidity.

It is one of those dates where everyone clicks together and inspires each the other to surpass where they plateau  momentarily now and again, then take it a step upwards.

It is an auspicious beginning to the set and fully advanced as an excellent offering that stands on its own regardless of the promise of the six volumes to come. More on those soon. Meanwhile by all means hear this first.