Monthly Archives: October 2007

Revue & Corrigée reviw by Pierre Durr

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Joëlle Leandre/Pascal Contet – Freeway (CF 080)
Bien qu’elle fasse – de plus en plus rarement – des incursions ciblées dans les musiques écrites contemporaines (Cage, Scelsi, plus particulièrement), Joëlle LEANDRE est d’abord la grande dame de la contrebasse sur les scènes des musiques improvisées. Cet enregistrement, effectué lors du festival Europa Jazz du Mans en 2005, en est un témoignage essentiel puisqu’en deux heures il nous retrace cinq parcours avec différents partenaires (deux duos, deux trios, un quartet)*. Ces formules instrumentales ne sont pas tout à fait inédites (en particulier les Diaboliques, avec Irene Schweizer et Maggie Nicols) et en ce sens, ce double CD pourrait faire office de best of s’il n’y avait l’essence même de l’improvisation, remise en cause permanente des acquis nés de la complicité, soumise à l’instant et au lieu et renouvelant les émotions. Piano et voix, contrebasse ou flûte (William Parker), violon (India Cooke), percussion et trompette (Mark Nauseef et Marcus Stockhausen), percussion trombone et violon (Paul Lovens, Sebi Tramontana et Carlos Zingaro): la contrebasse de Joëlle LEANDRE se meut dans divers environnements, partage les énergies, voire les transcende, accompagne telle figure stylistique, déstructure tel discours, appuie telle envolée…

L’impression que l’auditeur ressent avec “Freeway”, second enregistrement de son duo avec l’accordéoniste Pascal CONTET, est double.

Après At the Le Mans Festival, son écoute semble de prime abord révéler une contrebassiste plus apaisée, dans ce partenariat avec le principal innovateur français de l’accordéon. Il est vrai que certaines séquences de ce parcours libre (capté aux studios de la Suisse italienne à Lugano) associent un accordéon plus ou moins répétitif et lancinant et une contrebasse caressante. Mais ce calme n’est qu’apparent et limité laissant souvent la place à un déferlement orageux (“freeway 6″) entre les cordes  survoltées, grinçantes, et les sons dissonants, qu’insuffle Pascal CONTET à son instrument.

O Sitio do Jazz review by Manuel Jorge Veloso

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Júlio Resende – Da Alma (CF 095)
Gostaria de começar por vos dizer que, ao referir as influências que tal ou tal músico possa parecer experimentar em relação a outras personalidades que julgo constituirem as suas referências modelares, é o lado positivo desta atitude (e não qualquer negativa reticência) que em geral me interessa realçar. Para ser mais claro, é o acerto e o bom gosto revelados por essas opções de inspiração (mais ou menos implícitas) que sobretudo aprecio, ao achar útil para o leitor sublinhar essas influências. 

Por exemplo, no que a este disco em concreto diz respeito, parece-me relativamente transparente que o jovem pianista Júlio Resende -  não só uma revelação mas já uma clara certeza na cena jazzíztica portuguesa  -, ao mesmo tempo que ainda procura, como é natural, uma linguagem e um caminho próprio, ensaia essa afirmação pessoal buscando alguns sinais de inspiração no mundo conceptual de um Brad Mehldau, por exemplo.

Entretanto, se uma tal tendência é susceptível de confirmação em peças como Deep Blue ou dA Alma, já outras peças deste disco se orientam em direcções diversas, privilegiando por um lado o uso de métricas irregulares mas também deixando-se entregar às batidas binárias da música funk e de outros espécimes da música popular urbana, como é o caso de Um Dia de Férias ou Ghost Dog.

Mas outros indícios extremamente interessantes e reveladores da procura de uma via pessoal se podem detectar em certas passagens deste primeiro opus de Júlio Resende.

Logo de início, por exemplo, Filhos da Revolução é-nos dada a ouvir como se de uma singela «canção de roda» se tratasse; e a própria introdução «marcial» no piano, pela subtileza deliberadamente titubeante com que é apresentada, sendo ainda passível de outras leituras, acaba por estar de acordo com a configuração geral da própria peça.

Por outro lado, mesmo que Deep Blue se enquadre, sem margem para dúvidas, na estrutura de um blues em 6/8, o certo é que alguns requebros «arabizantes» na sua linha melódica sugerem, a certa altura, a hipótese de estarmos perante o recorte de um fado (!), suscitando-se além do mais uma certa ilusão auditiva, ao parecer adivinharmos a presença (de facto apenas ilusória) de uma guitarra portuguesa…

Por último, um outro exemplo deste divertido gosto de Júlio Resende pelo efeito da ambiguidade e da surpresa parece-me patente em Move It!, sobretudo pela coabitação de secções temáticas ou improvisacionais de cariz totalmente diverso: a introdução free (só aparentemente deslocada) no piano, seguida da apresentação de um tema explícito e tonal mas exposto em duas direcções opostas (nas quais uma atmosfera agitada e jovial é entrecortada por uma passagem bopper, à boa maneira de Parker, fortemente swingada), sucedendo-se no plano solístico intervenções também elas divergentes, com Júlio Resende «grudado» ao sentido geral do tema e Alexandra Grimal a enveredar por uma improvisação relativamente livre em rubato até que, seguindo-se à intervenção mais contundente de Zé Pedro, a irrupção do piano pelo meio de uma pausa que parecia conclusiva nos reconduz à exposição do tema.

No campo improvisacional, para além da desenvoltura do líder na competente exploração das potencialidades do piano, Zé Pedro Coelho revela-se o solista mais consistente, utilizando com hábil apropósito as passagem em tons inteiros, os harmónicos, a constante descentragem dos acordes de passagem e o intenso cromatismo como factores de modernidade e dando-se a ouvir, em geral, com uma sonoridade cool, lisa e sem vibrato, um pouco na linha de um Mark Turner, mas sem deixar de impor, quando necessário, uma impetuosidade emocional que contagia os restantes.

Já Alexandra Grimal constitui uma agradável surpresa e um útil complemento tímbrico na componente dos sopros, revelando-se o rotundo contrabaixo de João Custódio e (quanto à percussão) sobretudo a ágil bateria de João Lobo, dois suportes rítmicos essenciais.

Ao leitor-ouvinte fica o desafio à descoberta das restantes virtualidades e limitações desta primeira e prometedora obra discográfica.
http://o_sitio_do_jazz.blogs.sapo.pt/7534.html

3 new releases



Jazz e Arredores review by Eduardo Chagas

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Alípio C Neto Quartet – The Perfume comes before the Flower (CF 093)
Alguns discos (Whishful Thinking, Snug as a Gun…) e vários grupos depois (Wishful Thinking, IMI Kollektief, e DIGGIN’), a certa altura percebia-se que devia estar prestes a nascer o opus magnum da ainda breve carreira discográfica de Alípio Carvalho Neto. E aí está, The Perfume Comes Before the Flower, disco de 2007 (Clean Feed), nascido para o mundo com a força das coisas ingentes e com a urgência de afirmar um som maduro, articulado e processado através de uma linguagem musical moderna e com ideias assertivas, algo que poucos improvisadores, do jazz e de fora dele, podem reclamar para si com inteira propriedade. The Perfume Comes Before the Flower é fruto de decisões claras (e clarividentes), de muita prática quotidiana, estudo, trabalho e meditação. E talento. Que aqui existe a rodos, visto que para além do saxofonista, participam no quarteto americano de Alípio C Neto, quatro dos melhores improvisadores da actualidade, de Nova Iorque e de todo o mundo: o trompetista Herb Robertson, o contrabaixista Ken Filiano, e o baterista Michael T. A. Thompson, creditando-se do tubista californiano Ben Stapp em três das cinco faixas do disco (1. the perfume comes before – early news; 2. the will – nissarana; 3. the flower – aboio; 4. the pure experience – sertão; 5. la réalité – dancing cosmologies). Pessoalmente, tive o privilégio de ter escutado este disco ainda em cru, acabado de chegar de Nova Iorque onde tinha sido gravado. De imediato me impressionou a força do quarteto, a concentração expositiva e o bem tricotado das composições, propositadamente flexíveis nas juntas para deixar entrar e sair a torrente da improvisação. Sou de há anos um apreciador do som de saxofone tenor de Alípio. Gosto das suas tonalidades quentes, “tropicais sem serem tropicalistas”, como disse um dia em entrevista, das arestas por limar, do poder do som cru, que se dá tão bem no desenho de uma melodia – e Alípio sabe escrever uma melodia! – como no reforço das complexas estruturas harmónicas, ou nos solos, reveladores de aromas e essências intemporais, património genético onde reconheço vestígios de Fank Lowe, Pharoah Sanders ou John Gilmore. Difícil, se não mesmo impossível, se torna fazer sobressair individualidades do seio da banda, unidade perfeita na diversidade que encerra, que assim se mostra nos tempos de entrada e de saída, fulminante no ataque, sem medo de arriscar tudo na improvisação, na garra com que se atiram à luta, na atitude criativa, solidez, balanço, variação dinâmica, com o à vontade próprio duma working band muito rodada (que não teve tempo nem propósito de o ser, pois foi chegar, mostrar as composições, trocar uma ideias e gravar), cujos processos criativos flúem com assinalável eficácia e naturalidade. Que dizer, que ainda não tivesse sido dito, sobre o sopro luminoso e coruscante de Herb Roberston; a fantasia e a precisão de Ken Filiano, no pizicatto como no arco; a espessura e a densidade da tuba de Ben Stapp, o drumming incomparável de T. A. Thompson… O drive colectivo é potente e descontraído, cheio de manha e sabedoria, particularmente assinalável quando os quatro (ou cinco) se lançam declive abaixo, velocidade nas curvas apertadas e nas rampas sinuosas, para, chegados ao fundo, descomprimir e iniciar nova subida até ao cume mais alto, ficando-se sem saber se o perfume chega antes da flor, como o título sugere, ou se é a flor, que viçosa, nasce primeiro e exala esta irresistível fragrância. O que importa é que, chegado o termo da jornada, apetece aspirar de novo e partir para outra aventura nesta fantástica montanha russa de sons, cores e aromas. Melhor que tudo é ouvir e deixar-se maravilhar e comover ante tamanha “oferta”. Dito isto, The Perfume Comes Before the Flower é um disco muito bom, de intenso prazer físico e emocional.
http://jazzearredores.blogspot.com/

Like Rain Whispers Mist review by Michael McCaw

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Michael Attias – Credo (CF 051)

So closes an interesting set of liner notes from Attias for his Clean Feed release Credo (you can read the Attias penned liner notes for the album at the Clean Feed website here) which although recorded several years prior to his domestic debut release Renku, received its official release nearly a year after the sophomore recording session. And it is a shame that he is almost 40 and only has two albums under his own name (CIMP might be a good fit label wise along with Clean Feed…).

Reviews for this album are scant across the internet, and Scott “Recommended” Yanow says it has a Mingus feel with Ornette-ish solos. Personally I think this is misleading but not untrue. Looking for touchstones for people, I would rather say it calls on the energy and (when in full affect) lyricism of the Vandermark 5 which could be called a bastardization of the Yanow identified roots. Nonetheless, the way compositions build, fall away, rebuild, and give way to surprising subsets of a group- this Attias sextet is energetic and in full flight high on composition and improvisation. The sextet tracks especially reflect this sound.

I wish I had more time today to dedicate to this album, but the music should speak for itself.

You can hear the album or a particular tune below by clicking on a song title. You can visit Michaël Attias here although his website looks like it hasn’t been updated for a while.

What do you think?
http://likerainwhispersmist.blogspot.com/

Free Jazz blog reached 20,000 visitors

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http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/

One of the best blogs on the web, really worth checking out. Congratulations to Stef for his very good and open ears.

Free Jazz review by Stef

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Mark O’Leary – On The Shore (CF 091)
***** 
I have already praised Mark O’Leary before for his great sense of music, and he proves it again on this record, and how! With Alex Cline on drums and a double trumpet front line consisting of Jeff Kaiser and John Fumo, the line-up is definitely unusual (apart from Jacek Kochan’s “Another Blowfish”, with Eric Vloeimans and Piotr Wojtasik on trumpet, I’m not aware of any other quartet with a double trumpet front line). The music on this record is light, spacious, elegant, … I would almost say the musical equivalent of high quality champagne, very tasty, with bubbles, something to savour with every sip. The guitar plays a very prominent role on the whole CD, often with a very low tone, reminiscent of some of John Abercrombie’s albums, but more avant-garde, more creative, with the two trumpets and the drums adding shades of sound that bring depth and sculptural relief to the music, even if they’re pushed a little to the back in the sound editing, a nice touch which adds to the overall atmosphere. The whole quartet is absolutely brilliant. Alex Cline’s playing is precise, accurate, accentuating loosely, performing the difficult feat of drumming on music that is essentially without explicit rhythm. The two trumpets use every shade and sound their instruments can produce, in various intensities, volume changes and lengths, because there is mostly no melody to hear – texture, tonal changes and contrast is all there is, especially exemplified by the long title track. O’Leary himself gets every possible sound out of his guitar as well, and whether it’s plain acoustic, or one of the many effects on his electric guitar, his playing is not focused on the playing itself but on the musical moods he creates, and it’s also coherent throughout the album, regardless of how he uses his instrument. O’Leary doesn’t hesitate to push his foot switches once in a while, bringing sorching fusion-like solos, pushing the trumpets and the drums to high levels of intensity as in “Point Sketch”, but most of the music is subdued, tentative, fragile, creating open-ended soundscapes, composed with skill and feeling, building layers of music to create a very distinct mood, which is nostalgic, sad, but also reverent, jubilant or mysterious at times.You can hear seagulls and whales, or even sirens, the surf in the distance, or lapping waves close-by, … that’s how evocative the music is without needing to try to imitate those sounds. Another mystery of the record is whether it has been dubbed or not (that’s the problem or disadvantage of downloading, there are no liner notes to guide you in your appreciation). Most of it sounds too beautiful to be the result of spontaneous improvization, too carefully crafted to have been left to chance, but then again, it sounds too open to be composed, and these are great musicians, so you can’t tell. One could also argue whether this is jazz or not, but asking the question is irrelevant. Answering it even more. This is absolutely excellent music. That’s the most important thing.
http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/2007/10/mark-oleary-on-shore-clean-feed-2007.html

Free Jazz review by Stef

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Alipio C Neto – The Perfume come before the Flower (CF 093)

Here’s another stunning free jazz album. Trumpeter Herb Robertson and bass player Ken Filiano are obviously well-known names, saxophonist Alipio C Neto is probably less known, although he’s one of the driving forces behind the IMI Kollektief and Wishful Thinking. Neto is a Brazilian who moved to Portugal to have a doctorate in literature, yet who stayed in the country and started seriously engaging himself in music. The quartet is completed by Michael TA Thompson on drums, and Ben Stap joins on tuba on three of the five tracks.

Apparently Neto’s credo is that “music must always be transcendental”, and that’s clear from the very first sounds of the record. High tempo drumming introduces very slow sax tones and arco bass, with absolutely frantic trumpet soloing by Robertson, creating a feeling of wide expanses and deep emotional contrasts, and then suddenly all sounds converge into a totally unexpected unisono melody that shifts a few seconds later into Filiano’s well-known incredibly precise and adventurous bowing, with an hesitant, yet strong sax solo by Neto, and he is absolutely excellent in his playing: raw yet soft and warm-toned at the same time. Then the sax becomes the frantic voice, while Robertson takes over the slow background on trumpet. It’s clever, it’s fun, it’s ingenious. “The Will – Nasarana” starts with a long bass solo, and when you think it’s high time to turn up the volume, the three other musicians start playing a joyful abstract melody, which shifts into free bop of the best kind, with both horn players demonstrating their best skills. And I must say that on many records Robertson goes beyond what I find bearable, but not here : his playing is more accessible than we’ve heard in many years, and it is truly great. The most beautiful track however is “The Flower – Aboio”, which is a slow, minor key, bluesy composition, starting with layers of similar sounds by all musicians, evolving into a tear-drenched, funeral-march-like mood, with all instruments wailing and weeping, incredibly intense, incredibly sad, incredibly beautiful. Bengt Berger’s “Bitter Funeral Beer” comes to mind when listening to this song, and that’s a great compliment. Stap’s inclusion on this track is a stroke of genius, because the dark tones, even when playing in the upper register add an intensity and coloring which moves the song to even greater heights. The fourth track is a structured free jazz work-out where all musicians let loose the tension and go for it, and the last one continues in the same vein, but adding a lightly dancing joy to the music. Again, a great record, because of the great musicianship, but also because of the great balance between compositions and improvization. Get it!
http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/

Paris Transatlantic review by Clifford Allen

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Scott Fields Ensemble – Dénouement (CF 088)
This may very well be the year that puts Chicago guitarist Scott Fields firmly on the improvisational map. His Clean Feed Records debut, Beckett , occupies a tense poise between measured and somewhat theatre-inspired movement and free immediacy. Joining him on the tightrope walk are percussionist John Hollenbeck, tenorman Matthias Schubert and cellist Scott Roller. On the heels of Beckett is the reissue of Dénouement , a double-trio recording initially waxed in 1997 for Fields’ tiny, now-defunct Geode label. He’s joined by guitarist Jeff Parker (here in a pre-Thrill Jockey guise), bassists Jason Roebke and Hans Sturm, and drummers Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang (who appeared with bassist Michael Formanek on Fields’ excellent Delmark disc Mamet ).
Fields characterizes the music as “the bastard child of King Sunny Adé and Ornette Coleman” and he might not be incorrect in that assertion. Luckily not recorded in mono, each trio is audible in separate yet interweaving channels, Fields, Sturm and Drake on the right and Parker, Roebke and Zerang on the left. From the opening plinks and strums of “Her Children,” plaintive and nearly detuned, Parker and Fields underpin, addend and fragment their own dialogue, a delicate conversation in language about to collapse on itself. Pulled out from dissipation by a seemingly abrupt arrival at martial swing, the twin rhythm sections offer a steadily oppositional groove, basses and guitars walking in contrasts and a unison of throaty grasps, linked mostly by absence. After all, one reason for using two bassists or drummers in opposing rhythms is that the contrast will, rather than stagnate create a third and less deterministic pulse, stemming from “both” and “neither.”
Like musical forebears the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, these lengthy improvisations (albeit with brief written signposts) should be taken as a whole, with individual areas popping out and grabbing one’s senses – dueling arco-ponticello basses catch the ear mightily, percussion hanging overhead in implied fits of near-waltz as Fields and Parker skitter from the front porch to somewhere way, way underground. A charged, fuzzy rock phrase is worried in damning repetition, Sharrock-like overtones brought out as basses, toms and a second guitar both goad and placate. It’s the simultaneity of sounds, phrases and rhythms and their conflicted outcomes – or, rather, the space between these things – that makes Fields’ ensembles work. Luckily for us, this early example of his music is available again.
http://www.paristransatlantic.com/magazine/monthly2007/10text.html#fields

All About Jazz review by Nic Jones

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Sten Sandell Trio + John Butcher – Strokes (CF 082)

Here’s a paradox. This is a release which emphatically preaches the virtues of free improvisation yet it does so by means of stealth, an awareness of the infinite possibilities of light and shade, and the fashioning of music that’s never less than acutely aware of the intrinsic value of silence and near-silence.

Over the course of two lengthy pieces and a relative snippet, this augmented trio sounds like anything but—such is the group’s advanced level of integration. If Evan Parker and Lou Gare can be taken as the two British tenor sax players who have blazed the trail in free playing, it’s clear that at this point in his career tenor saxophonist John Butcher owes little to either of them.

The fact that he doesn’t could be as much down to dedication as anything else, and on “Study” he operates in a minimal vein entirely his own, working as much around Sten Standell’s comparatively hyperactive piano as with it. Drummer Paal Nilssen-Love seems alert not only to every nuance of the music on this one, adding to the flow of the piece as he provides shade and color in a fundamentally astringent soundscape.

In their collective and fundamental lack of concern with established precedents, these players put down a marker for the untrammeled demands that freedom makes. Thus bass player Johan Berthling, on the same piece, flies in the face of convention even when Sandell reaches for the Cecil Taylor approach as he does at around the 22-minute mark. There’s a whole lot more than mere iconoclasm at work here, and Berthling’s broken lines seem to have the effect of bringing the group back from an uncertain precipice.

The opening of “Unsteady” finds the group expanding upon its electroacoustic palette through Sandell’s use of electronics and Butcher’s manipulation of feedback. As the piece progresses it becomes evident that the relation between the tempered note and musique concrète is another of the group’s concerns.

On a less rarefied level it also serves notice of the fact that any notion of the working group with special guest variety is also irrelevant. This is fiercely integrated music, and even when Butcher summons up the spirit of Evan Parker’s infinitely spiraling soprano sax lines the impression is no more than transitory, usurped by the demands of the group’s singular operational credo.

Happily, the less than three minutes of “Steady” doesn’t sound like a brief introduction to what this group does or indeed the ground it covers. Instead it finds the players working in territory more akin to free jazz, but in a manner that almost entirely invalidates the term. It’s still a fundamental expression of musical freedom as such, and as such it’s right in keeping with the rest of the programme.

It’s occasions such as this, when musicians come together to produce something sublime, that make a reviewer’s task the opposite of onerous.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=27102