Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Devin Gray & Gerald Cleaver, 27 Licks

Albums for one or more solo drummers in new and Avant Jazz are pretty rare. Some stand out. There's Milford Graves' ESP Disk, Andrew Cyrille's BYG, Cleve Pozar's Solo, Bruce Ditmas' "Yellow" and now there is one by Devin Gray & Gerald Cleaver, 27 Licks (Rataplan). It comes from two of the most inventive drummers out there today.

They do not let us down, either. The opening groove is irresistible. It is followed by different drum snapshots--busy virtuosity, sound color washes, bowed cymbals and rubbed drum heads, other things, too.

It flows nicely and disarms with its matter-of-fact inventiveness. Bandcamp has it if you are interested.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Francois Lana Trio, Cathedrale


Pianist Francois Lana and his trio are happy discoveries for me, via their recent album Cathedrale (Leo Records CD 884). This is in the Free-but-swinging Jazz zone, a nicely together threesome that includes bassist Fabien Iannone and drummer Phelan Burgoyne. There are compositional highs like Lana's "Nocturne" with its haunting reflection and pulsation, it's additive synth melodic qualities that enhance then subtract in a most economic way. Or "Der Turm," equally memorable but in a different way.

The rhythm team can tumble on or loosely lock into a swing but they are ever complementary to Lana for each piece. The mood can have a bit of a Paul Bley/earlier Cecil Taylor buoyancy or at times cut through to the stratosphere for a time. 

What is so nice about it all is Lana's obvious savoring of the Early Free tradition and his significant contribution to it as a present-day originality. There is a shifting mélange of creative paths, patches, ways to make us experience a spectrum of avant piano trio moods. It is in the end an impressive offering that one increasingly appreciates. 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

George Lewis Rainbow Family, IRCAM, May 1984


George Lewis Rainbow Family's live 1984 IRCAM (Carrier 051) CD recaptures the excitement and adventure of avant improv then. This program was one of the first live electronic IRCAM performances and engages George Lewis on a specially programmed set of laptops in tandem with some of the finest avant improvisers of our times.

So we get some wonderfully lively and adventurous duets of George's computer generated improvs and Joelle Leandre on bass, with Derek Bailey on electric guitar, with Douglas Ewart on bass clarinet, and with Steve Lacy on soprano. All that is followed by a trio of Lewis, Bailey and Ewart and then the finale with all five voices.

The electronics are nicely clangorous, open and very exploratory vehicles to challenge improvisors. As George Lewis says in the press sheet that accompanied this CD, it was probably the first commission from IRCAM for "so-called improvising computer programs" where musical input from the improvisors involved were transformed into pitch and "envelope-following hardware." Three microcomputers created their own responses to the music and in turn were related to by the improvisors.

Each movement has its magic and that becomes more apparent the more one listens. This is music fully worth the wait. It deftly spans the interstices between Jazz Improv brilliance and new music pioneering. Bravo!