Monday, December 30, 2019
Arrangements vary from traditional-village to contemporary rock-tinged, from traditional instruments to mainstream Western. The songs are often modal minor and are apparently often based on Dainas two-stanza form, marking birth, marriage or death and/or designed to be sung on cyclic yearly calendar milestones such as Christmas, Easter, Summer Solstice, etc. There are more than 300,000 Dainas-associated melodies that have been identified and some 1.2 million texts according to the liners of this album. That is quite a cache!
The vocalists and instrumentalists are first-rate and the music vibrant and winning, memorable and down-to-earth. If I am a novice and have little-to-no experience with the music of this region I can say that the program on this album is a winning one to my ears.
Wednesday, December 18, 2019
It is Karoline Wallace on vocals, Hilde Marie Holsen on trumpet and effects, Hakon Aase on violin and percussion and Alessandro Sgobbio on piano. The eleven numbers here come from the pen of Sgobbio and there clearly is improvisation at hand as well, the most notable of the latter especially from him.
These are song-like and songful reflections with a built-in makeover of some of the atmospherics of the classical ECM Jazz that became especially influential towards the end of our last century. It is open-form music with musical objectives, signposts that all realize at times, part of the ensemble at others, with the vocals a central focus along with implied, inherent song form.
Sgobbio's piano playing is a luscious thing, searching, advanced yet always thoughtful and impressionistic. Vocalist Karoline Wallace has a clear, sweet. pitchful-wispful voice that does not remind of Astrud Gilberto yet has some of her sweetness in abundance for sure.
Hakon Aase's violin tends (to my ears) more often to appear in an improvisational commentary role than does trumpetist Hilde Marie Holsen but both add much to the ensemble when they are present, for color and substance.
Put it all together and there is a consistently magical spirit-music going on, wall-to-wall. Not cool so much as poem-cavernous, this is. It is sweet but not stickily, sickeningly so. Far from it. Wallace and Sgobbio strike it off with a remarkable chemistry the others second and forward.
It a word, beautiful. This is one outstandingly beautiful recording and Silent Fires deserve acclaim for it. A big bravo, very big.
Monday, December 9, 2019
The album successfully straddles the realms of avant improvisation and jazz composition with three pieces by Houle, two by Eisenstadt, two by Hawkins and one each by Steve Lacy, Charles Ives (!), and Andrew Hill.
At times one is reminded of the Jarrett-Redman piano-clarinet doublings on the now rather ancient album Birth, but merely as a predecessor, not in terms of imitation.
This is primo New Music-Avant Jazz with excellent clarinet work from Houle and equally thoughtful and inventive contributions from Hawkins and Eisenstadt. It is one to grow into, for the more one listens the better it seems, at least to my ears. I believe most readers will feel the same if they give this one their attention.
All three artists have slowly and surely become central to the music without a lot of fanfare. Here they give us the unexpected yet nonetheless continue the winning ways we have come to expect from each in the past decade, give or take.
Very strongly recommended. Grab this one and listen!
Friday, December 6, 2019
This one really feels as quartet-like as it is, in that everybody occupies an instrument zone that forwards the free-rhythm-with-soloists idea that evolved into a foundation of "Free Jazz" in the sixties. That is not to say that the playing is derivative because it is not. It is just that it is part of a whole in avant music making that has a history, and that it makes it all new at the same time as it belongs to a special way of quartet-ing.
So we have Maestro Parker striding, bowing, and carrying forth in ways that punctuate and open up Maestro Kapp to swing-beyond-swing zones and set up Maestros Shipp and Perelman to be freely where it seems right and in the now of things.
And in the process the rhythm team inspires some extraordinary soloing collectively and individually from tenor and piano, not to mention excellent rhythm team inventions in themselves. By now we have four masters of open form in an ultra-hip committal to making the most of every musical moment.
You listen and you hear the history of the form but you hear too the culmination of it all into where these four were in the very moment of the studio date at hand.
Compare the near balladic "Ebullience" with the somewhat more dense and up "Bliss" and you in a way have the right-now analogue parallel to "Cool Blues" and "Koko?" Not exactly yet this is a part of the continuum in time and aural space and an important part at that.
So get in with this one and be in with the present example of improvisatory music at its finest. Outstanding!
As far as the experiencing of the songs goes it is in the nuances that we gain insights I feel after listening a number of times. Yet too there is a visceral homespun quality to it all that disarms and puts the listener in a new place, so to say.
Several song types are represented. Hua'er has to do with the young lady lovers of young men. Western Yugar styles appear as well, in long epic forms and shorter ones. Then there are Yanxike, or banquet songs sung ordinarily at weddings. Salaqu or Yu'er are songs of the Salar peoples and ordinarily utilize the pentatonic scale. Finally we hear several songs from the Dongxiang.
Understandably the music sometimes differs from what a Westerner might think of as typically Chinese. And so it adds to the vast folk wealth we can experience for ourselves these days and therefore is a valuable addition to one's folk-ethnic library if one is predisposed in this way. Fascinating.
Those who have sampled a good bit of Balinese Gamelan over the years have undoubtedly heard Lotring works without necessarily being aware, for he was in many ways the "Beethoven" of Gamelan for the important first half of the 20th century, having a long illustrious career on the island. Born in 1898, by the '20s he was a fixture of Gamelan and by the '30s his fame had spread beyond (thanks in part to Colin McPhee's writing) to general musicological Gamelan acolytes of the age at large abroad. And he kept moving forward for a long life of accomplishment.
When appropriate he wrote music and created the dances for the music simultaneously. His first works were for the Gender Wayang chamber groups that provided Shadow Puppet backdrops and pieces often centered around Hindu sacred topics. He then went on to compose for full Gamelan orchestras with dedicated dancers for each work. And of course he also wrote works that were meant to be performed with the orchestra alone.
What strikes me over the years with Lotring's music is the sheer beauty of the main melodic underpinning in the context of incredibly lively figuration in the metallophones. Tempo changes, really stunning, tantalizingly brief grooves and unexpected shifts in the musical momentum give us an incredibly rich tapestry that unfolds memorably in each of the exemplary pieces on the program.
These are "authentic" field recordings and so one might hear, say, a baby crying or someone coughing in the background every so often. But the sound is very good and the performances excellent so one should not care about such things.
I would say that this set is essential for anyone seeking to experience some true milestones in the Gamelan arts. Lotring's music is central and the set maps out some very wonderful examples for us to treasure, beautifully played. Strongly recommended.
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
The result is vital music and a happy marriage of instruments, voices, technique and extended technique, and sheer brilliance of invention. They show the kind of simpatico openness of response to one another that mark the very best of such gatherings. And in many ways it all thrives by each artist staying in a mutually compatible zone of sound expression, for example high flute-tone flight slurries with bowed harmonic sustains on bass and high note sprinkles on the piano for "Reflection."
It is an album that to me grows in stature with every new listen--as the intentions and expressions become more familiar at each pass and therefore more clearly communicating to my inner ear.
I recommend this album very highly. Do not miss it if you follow the latest in the Improvisatory Arts!
Friday, November 22, 2019
On the contrary, it is not codification so much as recognition of a freedom and the inventiveness to create a sound world that is a product of three independent imaginations that work together for surprise juxtapositions more than leader-follower hierarchies.
Each is a master of her or his instrument, Robert Dick of the flute family, Joelle Leandre of the contrabass, Miya Masaoka of the koto. And the working out of that mastery for this album decidedly does not lie in initiation and imitation so much as the fashioning of parallel sound universes created and then sustained, to form unique and distinctive wholes.
And so they do throughout with some 12 freely composed improvisations. High invention is the order of the day, a Zen of sound creation that is neither directly obvious nor willfully arcane. It is a natural world, closer to an untamed forest tract than a closely clipped and cultivated garden? I do not know if the analogy works, since some sound universes here sound somewhat trimmed and cultivated, some wildly open and untamed or untrammeled.
So we hear mood-memory poetics in sequences, where all three create a confluence out of disparity--a bowed graininess, a scraping of strings and aerated launches of air all conflated and combined into one moment in time.
And in the end one might set about codifying this musical series of gestures, but the artists would be on to the next project, the next gathering of musical souls no doubt, and the results would need re-codifying as we are in the right now. Thankfully we are in that. So listen to now. Be where these three are right now.
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Chad Taylor energizes the session by not hanging back, but instead giving the music the battery power it so needs to testify properly. He and bassist Revis have been playing, as Avram mentions in the liners, with Fefer since their first days in New York, recording several trio sides and etc. The kinetic magic and the long experience playing together translates into a power that runs at full voltage, with the Revis bass presence a key element in the success of the date.
That Marc Ribot is a guitarist's guitarist I need not tell you who read my columns regularly and anyone who has followed things closely in the past decade. On this outing he is heartened by the rest of the band to shine very brightly indeed.
The compositions are sterling blowing vehicles that let everybody swing forward mightily. Chad pens one, Avram the rest.
Finally one must say that Maestro Fefer comes across like a firebrand on these numbers. He clearly is emboldened and inspired by the quartet to do some of his finest blowing on disk. He is cooking!
I cannot recommend this one strongly enough. It is flat-out HOT! So get it already. It both swings and frees things up like mad.
Friday, November 15, 2019
We have to contemplate and appreciate right now 14 tracks that cover what is going on in Buenos Aires Improv today. The names will undoubtedly mostly be unfamiliar to you as they were to me but the music speaks without fail. So we hear Pablo Diaz's Quintet, the Luis Conde and Ramiro Molina Duo, a trio of Augusti Fernandez, Pablo Ledesma and Mono Hurtado, a duo of Enrique Norris and Paula Shocron, etc.
This music has the freshness of the new. If it reminds a little of the early ESP recordings from New York that makes it all the more fitting to come out on the pioneering "Free Jazz" label.
Rather than try and give a blow-by-blow description of what is a great deal of very good music, I will merely heartily recommend you get this one if you are interested in improvisational music today. Kudos!
Thursday, November 14, 2019
You listen, you quickly sense difference, something very much testificatory but not subject to the same modulations as Taylor might have done in the course of a long solo. Instead we get scatter modules of boisterous expression both inventive and varied--and wholly in a realm of its own.
The phrasings are jazz-like, "blown" lines as emotive outpourings with a wailing quality as it were. There are plenty of ideas to be had in the course of the program. Moreover there is a feeling of constant motion that is hard-charging and harmonically unstable, with a feeling of constant change within a sphere of sameness. And that's good of course. The sheer speed and energy can be very exhilarating! And the consistency of style clusters in a given segment is very noteworthy.
Based on this album Stephen Grew is up there with some of the most exciting "out" pianists practicing today. That's saying a lot. Hear this one by all means!
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
What stands out about this composition-performance is the heightened inside-the-piano acuity of the sound, by strumming directly the strings of the piano, plucking, hitting and conventional key stroking, but at times with some amount of involvement of preparation of the strings, if perhaps with the fingers and hand alone at times. That and the fascinating polyrhythms she produces as an integral part of the piece set this very much apart from the usual fare.
There is eventually once the work gets going a mesmeric quality that sounds rather African and/or Minimalistic. The harmonic beauty, especially of the introduction, is also stunning.
I could describe this one with many more words, but I would think a single listen would cover all of it handily. And if you hear it once, no doubt you will want to hear it again!
Highly recommended. A tour de force of new pianism.
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Harris provides the compositions and plays the rather subtly yet definitively plied drums as always. He is joined by a formidable lineup of contemporary improvisers--Nate Wooley on trumpet, Alexander Hawkins on piano, Pascal Niggenkemper on acoustic bass. The band is freeze-framed for a live set at AJMI in Avignon at the end of a nine-gig European tour.
They tackle eight interrelated compositions in their patented loose-tight fashion. Angular yet directional, the set deals with themes, motifs and rather brilliant soloing with a swingingly loose rhythm base. as is their wont. Harris notes in the liners that the compositions were conceived during a three-week stay at Poschiavo, Switzerland in 2017 as part of the Uncool Artist Residency, and consists of both unison lines and multi-voiced lines.
It is with the combination of compositional foundations and freely articulated group and individual improvs that the music takes on its distinctive qualities and hey, it is much more than just head-solos-head in layout--everything permeates everything else and all the better for it.
This is the Canada Day outfit's seventh album and surely one of their best. Eisenstadt is essential listening for any serious student of the improvised arts today. Hear this!
Thursday, October 17, 2019
Bailey and Parker had already made a huge impression on the world via their involvement with selves and others, as members of the Music Improvisation Company, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and in various other configurations. Han Bennink was a critical member of the Dutch Improv scene, the ICP Orchestra and etc. The three together was an auspicious and lovely thing as these four CDs beautifully attest.
We get two LP length cuts of the entire trio plus an LPs worth of Bailey-Parker duets, a half hour of Bailey and Bennink together and another of Bennink and Parker. Then as a sort of bonus we also have solo Parker for two ten-minute stints.
By the time these sides were waxed the world of Improv was fully a thing unto itself and recognized as such. Parisienne audiences no doubt knew what they were hearing or most might well have. The simpatico vibes were apparent as all three turn in some of their very best work, in all configurations.
This is seminal improv. Do not miss it if you are a fan! If not, give it a try anyway! Here are four reasons why each is considered a master stylist in Improv. They are on their game in the very best ways! Bravo!
Friday, October 11, 2019
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
Thursday, May 2, 2019
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: https://cherylpyle.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-trio-cheryl-pyle-michael-eaton-reggie-sylvester https://cherylpyle.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-quartet-cheryl-pyle-michael-eaton-claire-de-brunner-gene-coleman
Friday, April 26, 2019
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
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
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 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
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
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!