Darren Johnston – The Edge of the Forest (CF 133)
The tight charts and pert rhythmic playfulness of “The Edge of the Forest” recall a Philip Johnston session in some ways. Namesake Darren has a catholic approach to his instrument, brash mute work here, tiny chirrups there, bold lines amidst it all. In his range, he recalls Herb Robertson, and also in his puckishness—check out his flatulent statement to begin “Broken” (flatulent is good, in case you’re wondering). While the leader is a pleasure to listen to, it’s also always a delight to hear Goldberg in this kind of Free Bop setting. The three-horn line (with the resourceful Brown) kills throughout, sometimes in punchy little groupings (the opener) and sometimes in wild untethered sections (amidst the funk of “Broken”). A constant to this session is the band’s freedom with tempo, even as Hoff and Dobson are winningly crisp (think Pavone/Sarin in a lot of ways). But regardless of the flexibility of the group sound, the charts stand out too with their winking blend of Herbie Nichols, Raymond Scott, and Lacy. There’s some gorgeous work from Hoff in a duet with Goldberg on the bottom-heavy “Foggy,” whose nicely melancholy accordion hints at European folk forms. The same is true of the quizzical “Cabin 5,” whose staggered pulse and buoy-ant character suggest a Breuker influence (a trumpet/tenor line both sassy and understated lolls along gently, as Goldberg rides the pulse). They pull back on the dark-hued “Edge of the Forest” and the intense closer, but overall it’s a disc filled with energy, invention, and humor.
©Cadence Magazine 2009 www.cadencebuilding.com
The Flatlands Collective – Maatjes (CF 127)
Flatlands Collective is a culturally blended group that definitely has its own feel. Leader Jorrit Djikstra is a Dutch musician who moved to Chicago some years ago and created this band with some of the local talent, a few of whom are recognizable as part of the Hal Russell – Ken Vandermark extended family. There is a playfulness in this music that reflects both the humor of the Dutch scene and the experimentation of the Chicago one. Highlights include a seductive serpentine alto, clarinet, and cello melody on “Mission Rocker,” modern classical sonorities on “Micro Mood” and “In D Flat Minor” broken up by old-timey drum soloing and honking abstractions, a resonant drone led by Bishop and Lonberg-Holm on “Partially Overdone” and sly Arabian exotica on “Scirocco Song” featuring Bishop’s slashing trombone and twinkling electronics. There are also a couple of trio improvisations, one an alternately cranky and rhapsodic piece for clarinet, bass, and trombone, the other a wheezing disturbance laid down by cello, drums, and Djikstra’s alto and electronics. There is definite fun and life in the Flatlands Collective’s genre mismatching.
©Cadence Magazine 2009 www.cadencebuilding.com
Luis Lopes – Adam Lane – Igal Foni – What Is When (CF 146)
Portuguese guitarist Luis Lopes defies rigid classifications due to his rather unconventional mode of execution witnessed on this persuasive trio date, featuring American rising star bassist/composer Adam Lane and rock solid, Israeli drummer Igal Foni. It’s a mesmeric gala, brimming with circular themes, and fractured movements.
The guitarist’s patchy voicings ride atop the rhythm section’s bustling cadences, where the band instills a sense of perpetual motion. Here, Lopes dissects and interlinks concise patterns into a semi-structured program, in concert with tangible motifs and the musicians’ ardent improvisational maneuvers. Lopes is a stylist and uses closed-hand tapping techniques while putting matters into overdrive via his cross boundary exercises. He merges free, jazz-rock with dynamic, hard-core experimentalism.
On “Cerejeiras,” the trio conveys temperance with a sinister backdrop, accentuated by Lane’s creaky, arco-based notes and Lopes’ diminutive phrasings. But they kick up a storm during aptly titled, “The Siege,” as Foni offers a tumultuous undercurrent. Then Lane stretches with his airy and pensive solo on “Melodic 8.” In other regions of sound, they launch booming unison ostinatos and venture towards off-kilter metrics, occasionally abetted by Lopes’ haze of progressive-metal like, crunch chords and odd tunings.
The trio casts an abundance of tantalizing propositions throughout this veritably, exciting album, and shun the paths frequently travelled. Each piece stands on its own, and it this point in time, I sincerely hope the unit records again. Marked by diametrically opposed angles and odd-metered song-forms, the artists maintain a keenly identifiable, group-centric methodology.
Steve Swell – Planet Dream (CF 148)
The trio led by trombonist Steve Swell, share some common ground within New York City’s infamous free and progressive jazz scene, as solo performers and members of various ensembles. Moreover, they’re well represented on a global basis, due to their respective output for a variety of record labels. Hence, this outing is partly about layers, contrasts, expressive dialogues and a high-impact mode of delivery. They leave no stone unturned, so to speak.
Brown and Swell complement each other with extended note underpinnings, fragmented mini-motifs, and feverish call and response mechanisms. But it’s cellist Daniel Levin who dishes out the rhythms while serving as the common bond via his nimble plucking and buoyant metrics. The soloists’ slice and dice time, amid a few start and stop based passages, where they often rejuvenate a given theme, then go for the proverbial jugular.
They mix it up rather heartily and loom as busy bees during the largely changeable movements, but converge with a rebellious attitude on “Not Necessarily This, Nor That.” In essence, the hornists perpetuate a humanistic element.
The trio’s bump and groove workout on “Airtight,” is accelerated by Swell’s raspy-toned and melodic, free-jazz solo as the musicians segue into a riotous finale. Therefore, Planet Dream is based upon a musical agenda that is periodically softened, but rarely sweetened. It’s a curiously interesting endeavor, indeed.
Paul Dunmall Sun Quartet – Ancient and Future Airs (CF 138 )
Per un curioso gioco di specchi, di immagini e di significati riflessi, i titoli dei due brani presenti in Ancient and Future Airs ingarbugliano le aspettative degli ascoltatori. Perché il chilometrico (quarantanove minuti) “Ancient Airs” di antico ha ben poco mentre “Future Airs” sembra un tuffo nel passato con le sue cadenze da madrigale. Come a dire nella musica abbandoniamo criteri di analisi classicamente cronologici o consequenziali e accettiamo piuttosto un’idea di circolarità.
“Ancient Airs” è una sorta di suite nelle quale trovano spazio le più svariate situazioni improvvisative, dai furibondi unisoni freebop, a raffinati dialoghi di stampo cameristico, da complesse strutture armoniche agli esperimenti etnici di Yusef Lateef o Tony Scott evocati dalle cornamuse di Paul Dunmall, il tutto sorretto dalla tecnica formidabile dei quattro musicisti. Il breve (nove minuti!) “Future Airs” è al contrario un gioiello di misura, di discrezione e raffinatezza non levigata, di sintesi e di profondità.
Registrato in un torrido giugno 2008 al Living Theater di New York, Ancient and Futures Airs è la testimonianza di un felice incontro tra un gigante dell’improvvisazione europea e tre pezzi da novanta americani. Ma su disco, come speso capita in situazioni del genere, l’evento perde parecchio della propria forza comunicativa e rimane una sensazione di estemporaneità che lascia un po’ di amaro in bocca.
From Sept 16th to the 20th at Cornelia Connelly Center
It’s confirmed, the fourth issue of the CF Fest in New York will happen from sept 16th to the 20th at the Cornelia Connelly Center in Manhattan, New York. It’s pretty close (3 blocks) from the Living Theater where it happened last year. The programa will be announced really soon. Make your plans and don’t miss it !!!
Cornelia Connelly Center: 220 East 4th street, New York
Townhouse Orchestra – Belleville (CF 125)
Belleville es la segunda grabación de Townhouse Orchestra. Evan Parker, Sten Sandell, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten y Paal Nilssen-Love son los integrantes de tan reducida formación, cuatro pesos pesados que militan en la primera división de la libre improvisación europea, y que pertenecen a distintas generaciones. Publicado en formato de doble CD, Belleville contiene únicamente dos temas con una duración de 45 minutos cada uno. Sus títulos, “Belleville” y “Villebelle”, son un tanto sospechosos de no ser nada más que unas excusas para etiquetar el contenido de esta obra. En ella la música se expone sin tregua, ya que no aparece dividida en unas pistas que pudiesen servir como puntos de referencia al oyente. A pesar de ello el discurso del cuarteto no está carente de estructura alguna, sino todo lo contrario, ya que a grandes rasgos se pueden distinguir cuatro partes con su correspondiente exposición, nudo y desenlace, todo ello por supuesto dentro de la tradición de la libre improvisación. A lo largo de esos noventa minutos en los que los músicos van tejiendo el discurso del grupo hay espacio para los solos, dúos, tríos, y por supuesto para que el cuarteto trabaje a plena intensidad. También hay huecos para el silencio, la calma, el retomar la energía y volver a construir un discurso a partir de la nada, o para que en su interior los cuatro músicos (especialmente Sandell), vayan incorporando distintas melodías espontáneas.
En largo y en corto. Dos cuartetos, dos formas distintas a la vez que magníficas de crear y exponer composiciones instantáneas.