Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Vaster than Empires, Three Days


Every day moves forward the presence of time, of history, of where we have been and then might in turn be. Today that needle moves decidedly forward with the Avant Improv trio Vaster Than Empires and their recent CD Three Days (New Focus Recordings PAN 28). It is a full album of intelligent, extended techniques invention that brings us forward in the experimental language of abstracted Modernism with sound explorations and noise-pitch dialogues for violin (Erica Dicker), percussion (Allen Otte) and sound artist composer-improviser (Paul Schuette).

This ensemble formed in the course of an intersection in Cincinatti of two of the trio doing graduate  work and the other flourishing in local New Music performance. The  resultant trio gives us a spontaneous and virtuoso bead on sonic arts that hearkens back to classic improvisers like MEV, AMM and Il Gruppo as it simultaneously looks ahead to the world we will hear and see going forward from this day.

Maybe I say this too much but I believe the sure method for hearing this music properly (as well as any else of the advanced kind) is an open mind and a clear deck while listening and then the patience to let the music flow through your hearing in multiple listens. Now for me right as I pen these lines I am working on listen four and I must say it all is making rewarding sense to me. After repeated hearings it does not sound arbitrary but rather smart and timely in its interactive whole. It is complicated and ever-changing but it is excellent and without a doubt some of the best of this sort of thing that has come by me in the past decade. Vaster Than Empires is decidedly inspired on this album. They are the real thing in Improv today, at the top of the heap in results and good sounds. Do not miss it. Give it a streaming listen at bandcamp. https://newfocusrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/three-days Bravo, bravo!

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Allen Lowe, In the Dark


Allen Lowe has it all going for him in terms of artistry--his saxology, his Jazz composing brilliance, his determined directionality, his historical grasps and insights. Alas his health has not been with him lately with a malevolent cancer and many operations under his belt The good news is that he is back with two new releases that mark him as reassuringly continuing to excel and flourish. 

Today a good look at his more ambitious undertaking, the multiple CD project dubbed In The Dark (ESP-Disk 5080 3-CD) featuring the Constant Sorrow Orchestra. His bandmates are an interesting choice for a stylistic diversity and a wide period coverage of post-eclectic, wholistic Jazz expression from quasi-New Orleans to Bop to Post-Mingus post-Blues and Roots revisited,  ultimately to profundity and beyond. So we have an effective and winning lineup of clarinet great Ken Peplowski in tandem with Allen's eloquent and kicking tenor sax, Aaron Johnson's alto sax and clarinet, Lisa Parrott a most pleasant surprise on baritone, Brian Simontacchi on trombone,  Kellin  Hannas on trumpet, Lewis Porter on piano, organ-synth and synth, Alex Tremblay and Kyle Colina on basses and Rob Landis on drums.

The sprawling 31 composition triumph pits excellent players with memorably appealing and seriously impactful compositions for one of the greatest comebacks ever. Get this one, do not hesitate. Stay tuned for a discussion of his other new release.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Mats Gustaffson, Merzbow, Balazs Pandi, Cuts Open


Mats Gustaffsen is something of a world apart as a saxophonist when it comes to a style association. Yes he is free, but he can be very electric too. So today's recent offering is a case in point. Cuts Open (Rare Noise  RNR 0122 2-CD). This one has long extended free articulation for Gustaffson and band. His baritone sax and flute are out front nicely at times but he is as, or even more active throughout with his own live electronics. The well known artist Merzbow (Masami Akita) gives us his usual highly evolved noise electronics and with Matts additional percussion., Finally Balazs Pandi gives us a gradually unfolding blanket of bash on drums and percussion. It has some of the essence, that pioneering vibe heard decades ago the early electronics groups like Il Gruppo amd Musica Electronica Viva. It is still way ahead and not perhaps for everybody with ears. It takes a few listens perhaps before you start working to an understanding of what they do here.

The whole is an extraordinary, long unfolding and a truly orchestra blend of extreme electronics and band with dynamics that keeps evolving and growing until you want to shout at the squirrels. Well I do anyway.

Nicely nuanced and well recommended. Listen here on the BandCamp Site and order if you like: https://matsgustafsson.bandcamp.com/album/cuts-open

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Paul Van Gysegem Quartet, Square Talks


What yearly developments new and serious music manages to achieve are not always the sort of thing you hear about in the mass media these days. This blog page tries to cover as big a swatch of what's new as possible. Today is no exception with a release worth hearing and consideration, namely the Belgian  New Free Jazz ensemble known as the Paul Van Gysegem Quintet and their live album  Square Talks (el Negocita Records eNR079, Bandcamp).

It is an absorbing, very successful effort from start to finish. All features a nicely adventurous Quintet of Paul Van Gysegem on double bass, Cel Overberghe on tenor and soprano sax, Patrick De Groote on trumpet and flugelhorn, Erik Vermeulen on piano, and Marek Patrman on drums and for one selection a second trumpet.

The open improvisational game plan is to listen to one another and create a mutually inventive set of interactions. This has passion but also a kind of free logic that rings true with nicely tempered contributions from all concerned. There is a specially lucid and thoroughgoing vision to this music that perhaps identifies it as European more so than not, surely in its vocabulary at any rate. At the same time it is not in any way a gratuitous or hasty sort of bundle so much as it is a very successful effort to thrive in a free improvisational state.

Recommended heartily. Not to be missed if you seek the new edges of jazz freedom.