Monthly Archives: November 2009

All About Jazz Italy review by Enrico Bettinello

Charles Rumback – Two Kinds of Art Thieves (CF 152)
Che la scena creativa di Chicago sia ricchissima di talento è un fatto piuttosto risaputo, anche se non va dimenticato che da sempre la Windy City ha trovato anche in giornalisti, associazioni e etichette di tutto il mondo un’attenzione sempre viva: ne è un esempio questo disco della portoghese Clean Feed a nome del batterista Charles Rumback [componente della Lightbox Orchestra di Fred Longberg-Holm], musicista che in questa prima prova da leader ha voluto con sé – in una tipica conformazione a due sassofoni e senza strumento armonico – l’altrettanto sconosciuto Joshua Sclar al tenore e due promesse ormai affermate come l’altista Greg Ward e il contrabbassista Jason Ajemian.

Le sei composizioni del disco esplorano differenti mood e interazioni collettive, ma con una certa propensione all’astrazione che si affida troppo alla sensibilità dei singoli componenti e sembra invece un po’ meno consistente dal punto di vista dell’efficacia espressiva. Non è tanto la mancanza di temi significativi, quanto piuttosto una sorta di continuo vagare esecutivo la cosa che rende il disco meno interessante di quanto potrebbe: i musicisti sono in sintonia [Ward in particolare ha sempre uno sguardo armonico lucido e tagliente] ma il lavoro non ci sembra troppo coinvolgente e non ha l’immediatezza che può avere – tanto per rifarsi a un esempio molto vicino – il quartetto di Mike Reed.

La profonda sintesi dei tanti elementi in gioco [le tradizioni cui Rumback fa riferimento sono chiaramente molte e complesse] viene giocata infatti sul piano di una sensibilità coloristica e angolosa che rimane come sospesa sopra le inquietudini del presente. Non se ne lascia toccare se non dentro una cornice artistica definita e poco immediata e questo, nel mare delle uscite discografiche e web, rischia di non centrare l’obbiettivo.
Comunque una buona band.
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=4587

Gapplegate review by Grego Edwards

Júlio Resende - Assim Falava Jazzatrustra (CF 158 )

Pianist Julio Resende Puts A New Shine on Mainstream Jazz
In recent months thanks to Cleanfeed, Ayler Records and the kindness of Rodrigo Amado, I’ve gained a new appreciation of the Portuguese jazz scene today. It’s vital. Julio Resende’s new CD Assim Falava Jazzatustra (Cleanfeed) brings that home once again in a direct and exciting way.

Julio leads a fine quintet on this recording and they do a series of originals and a cover that provide much interest and variety. The music is in a freebop-and-beyond vein with the riffing rockish drive of “Don’t” to the mesmeric “Ir e Voltar ” (with superior guest vocalizing from Manuela Azevedo) and much in between to spark the senses and stimulate the ears. A big surprise is a bluesy balladic solo piano cover of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” that works perfectly.

Resende reflects the influence of early- to mid-Jarrett but uses that as a springboard to what is hard driving and contemporary all the way. As a soloist he is a clone of nobody and shows pianistic subtlety as well as formidable linear thrust. Alto saxophonist Perico Sambeat and tenorman Desiderio Lazaro are also strong soloists and with Resende’s imaginative improvising form a consistently revelatory triumvirate. Doublebassist Ole Morten Vagan has moments to shine as well and acquits himself with some very lively discourse.

When a session like this (recorded live incidentally) works well it does so for the pieces, the soloing and the push of the rhythm section. Assam Falava Jazzatustra comes through with all of those elements in place. Is Resende the Zarathustra of jazz? I don’t know and it is only an encapsulating idea to get you pondering at any rate.

This is a blast to hear! I recommend that you do so!
http://gapplegatemusicreview.blogspot.com/

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

Júlio Resende - Assim Falava Jazzatrustra (CF 158 )
El pianista portugués Julio Resende ha publicado el jocoso Assim Falava Jazzatrustra. A pesar del título, la música deja espacio para pocas bromas. Compuesta en su totalidad por Resende, salvo la versión de “Shine On Your Crazy Diamonds” de Pink Floyd, cuenta con unos magníficos arreglos para una formación en la que además de músicos portugueses participan el saxofonista Perico Sambeat y el contrabajista noruego Ole Morten Vagan. Todos ellos tienen espacio para lucirse en temas animados como “Jazz.pt” o en la magnífica “Don’t”, que con sus cambios de tempo es la encargada de abrir el disco y mostrar el nivel al que este grupo es capaz de trabajar. Por su parte, el pianista es protagonista absoluto de una preciosa versión del archiconocido tema de Pink Floyd. Otra gratísima sorpresa más a añadir al haber del catálogo de Clean Feed.
http://www.tomajazz.com/bun/2009/11/julio-resende-assim-falava-jazzatrustra.html

All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet - Things Have Got To Change (CF 150)
Multi-reedman Marty Ehrlich steers his estimable band-mates through a progressive-jazz jamboree that offers a prismatic stance. The leader has performed and recorded with the respective artists over the years in various ensembles. This outing, however, sustains a prominent groove quotient amid a few slight chamber inferences. Therefore, the quartet projects a distinct personality as improvisation and composition tender a prolific balancing act.

Ehrlich and trumpeter James Zollar project vocal-like attributes amid swing, airy bop and bluesy passages, while also instilling solstice and blistering choruses in spots. With “On The One,” the quartet locks into a circular pattern, nicely counterbalanced by Erik Friedlander’s bowed-cello lines. Moreover, the band segues into an orbital sequence of events that translates into the sounds of praise. Then on “Slices Of Light,” they gel during a swaggering shuffle vibe, where the hornists’ punch out a peppery motif.

They finalize the program with a composition by the late and influential saxophonist, composer Julius Hemphill titled, “Dogon A.D.” On this piece, the quartet executes an eleven beat rhythmic pattern, firmed-up by drummer Pheeroan Aklaff’s hard-hitting backbeats and the frontline’s rocketing horns. Overall, Ehrlich presents an album, teeming with intersecting theme-building exercises that reside on a vast plane, and countered with dips and spikes along the way. Nothing gets too out of hand or off course on this shrewdly arranged studio date.
http://www.jazzreview.com/cd/review-20809.html

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

Pinton / Kullhammar / Zetterberg / Nordeson - Chant (CF 156)
Chant del cuarteto Pinton – Kullhammar – Zetterberg – Nordeson es una gratísima sorpresa. En formación de dos saxos (Alberto Pinton y Jonas Kullhammar), contrabajo (Torbjörn Zetterberg) y batería/vibráfono (Kjell Nordeson), los cuatro músicos son los autores de todos los temas de la grabación. Su propuesta entronca con un jazz potente y energético en el que aparecen algunas referencias como las del saxofonista Hamiet Bluiett o la del trío sueco de free-jazz Mount Everest Trio. Si bien otras propuestas lideradas por Pinton entroncaban con un post-bop con fuertes reminiscencias a la música de artistas como Dave Holland y su quinteto, en esta grabación su emparejamiento con el saxofonista Jonas Kullhammar hace que explote una nueva faceta, más libre y mucho más interesante, tanto en sus aspecto de instrumentista como de compositor.
http://www.tomajazz.com/bun/2009/11/pinton-kullhammar-zetterberg-nordeson.html

Courrier Magazine review by Christian Steulet

Samuel Blaser Quartet – Pieces of old Sky (CF 151)

Horizons nostalgiques
Samuel Blaser est un musicien pressé, un globe-trotter qui ne manque aucune occasion de mettre en musique de nouvelles idées et de nouvelles rencontres. Passionné de fanfare à ses débuts, il suit une formation classique et jazz avant de jouer dans de nombreux big bands, puis de se perfectionner à New York. Depuis son installation à Berlin, métropole à la vie musicale tout aussi foisonnante, il signe ses premiers disques en duo, en solo et en quartette, passant en revue dans son jeu toute la tradition du trombone jazz. Ce don d’ubiquité ne ternit pas le propos, car Blaser sait faire parler son instrument dans un style personnel. Il affectionne une approche différenciée du trombone dans les compositions et dans le jeu collectif. Sur ce disque, la prédilection va aux trames ouvertes qui invitent les protagonistes du groupe – le guitariste Todd Neufeld, le bassiste Thomas Morgan et le batteur Tyshawn Sorey – à improviser des tableaux impressionnistes. Les sept «pièces de vieux ciel», mémoires pastel des horizons de son enfance à La Chaux-de-Fonds, constituent aussi le point de départ d’une tournée européenne avec un nouveau quartette qui accueille l’excellent guitariste Marc Ducret.

Jazz and Blues review by Tim

Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157)
A patriotic album that doesn’t resort to brash jingoism… how refreshing! Drummer and composer Harris Eisenstadt has become a mainstay of the growing Brooklyn scene, while performing as a leader and a sideman around the world. Along with Eisenstadt are: Nate Wooley on trumpet, Matt Bauder on tenor saxophone, Chris Dingman on vibraphone and Eivind Opsvik on bass. Opening with “Don’t Gild the Lilly,” they strike a medium tempo with probing vibes and horns blowing across the musical landscape of vibes, bass and drums. Wolley takes a pinched sounding solo over rolling drum accompaniment that is fascinating in its own right. Bass begins “Halifax” with a mellow feel, adding saxophone and drums to the mix. Vibes enter and shimmer along the edges of the open and spacious music. “After an Outdoor Bath” is one of the finest performances on the album, opening with some strong full band playing, Bauder steps up with a deep, visceral tenor saxophone solo followed by sputtering spitfire trumpet. great shifting drum work anchors this exciting and exploratory performance. “And When To Come Back” slows things down a little bit with light percussion and soft vibes laying the groundwork for the tempered horns floating over the proceedings. After a lengthy bass solo, the full group returns to improvise and then close the song. “Kategeeper” and “Ups and Down” have a more rapid pace and plenty of room for the horns to stretch out and improvise impressively. It’s a burden to lay on any group, but the music on this album reminded me of Eric Dolphy’s masterpiece Out To Lunch more than anything else. The angular nature of the Eisenstadt’s compositions, and the sparkling addition by Dingman’s vibes made me think of the great inside/outside music recorded by the likes of Dolphy, Sam River and Bobby Hutcherson for Blue Note in the early to mid 1960′s. It’s heavy company, but well deserved. http://jazzandblues.blogspot.com/2009/11/harris-eisenstadt-canada-day-clean-feed.html

Blogcritics review by Jordan Richardson

Samuel Blaser Quartet – Pieces of Old Sky (CF 151)
Born in Switzerland, Samuel Blaser lived in the heart of Swiss watch-making country. The town he was born in, La Chaux-de-Fonds, was also a vibrant jazz community and housed a pair of expatriate American jazz legends in Kenny Clarke and Sidney Bechet.

It stands to reason, then, that Pieces of Old Sky would embody both the meticulousness of Swiss watch-making and the free form jazz of living in a musical community.

The Samuel Blaser Quartet, one of many groups of which Blaser is an active member, features Blaser’s measured trombone skills alongside the guitar of Todd Neufeld, the double bass of Thomas Morgan, and the drums of Tyshawn Sorey.

Still in his twenties, Blaser’s skill as bandleader is surprisingly mature and represents a sense of timing and poise that few musicians hold. His playing is creative and measured, infused with poise and the natural ability to mesh seamlessly with the other performers.

Pieces of Old Sky demonstrates the quartet’s clever and calm mastery of their craft. It is filled with moments of stunning volatility and moving precision, allowing each member to showcase his art with accents and splashes of musical colour. Through it all, Blaser remains both the centre and foundation of the record through his thrilling playing.

Measured playing is the order of the day on the album’s opening track, the lush and extensive “Pieces of Old Sky.” Clocking in at 17 minutes, the title track is delicate, soft and meaningful. It serves as the perfect elegant introduction to the players in the quartet, as each member softly makes an entrance over Sorey’s deep percussion and Morgan’s atmospheric bass.

“Red Hook” shifts things in somewhat of a different direction. Blaser’s trombone moves through the tricky arrangement eloquently, but it’s Neufeld’s guitar that stands out as he punches the notes and adds glowing texture.

Other tracks make great use out of the communication between bandmates, such as the well-paced “Mandala.” The interplay is astonishing, as it relies on hushed, open spaces more than filled boxes of composition. “Mandala” is a track best exemplified by its lack of force in that it allows the quartet the time and space to move cleanly and clearly through a subtle piece of work.

Pieces of Old Sky is a haunting and exhilarating collection of work from the Samuel Blaser Quartet. Exemplifying the attention to detail and carriage of the leader while honouring the traditional skill of each individual player, this is a jazz record that respects the silence and stillness as much as it respects the driving heartiness of well-played jazz.
http://blogcritics.org/music/article/music-review-samuel-blaser-quartet-pieces/

Publico review by Nuno Catarino

Nobuyasu Furuya Trio  – Bendowa (CF 159)
****
O japonês Nobuyasu Furuya, actualmente a viver entre Berlim e Lisboa, tem feito furor nos concertos pela chama incendiária do seu saxofone tenor: ao vivo é capaz de rugidos intensíssimos, capazes de assustar fãs de noise. Mas a arte do palhetista – Furuya toca saxofone tenor, clarinete baixo e flautas – não se resume à ferocidade; além de dominar diferentes instrumentos, o japonês utiliza uma variedade de diferentes técnicas. Acompanhado por uma dupla rítmica portuguesa, Hernâni Faustino no contrabaixo e Gabriel Ferrandini na bateria, tem neste trio uma plataforma segura para explorar um jazz aberto com ascendência no “free” e ligação directa a Peter Brötzmann – e que nos momentos extremos se aproxima da fúria de um Kaoru Abe. Mas é simultaneamente capaz de uma irrepreensível contenção “zen”, especialmente quando se aplica na flauta em delicados murmúrios. Neste álbum, “Bendowa”, homenagem a um monge do século XIII, o japonês tem o apoio inteligente de uma dupla lusa que não se limita a um papel de background: complementa e interage, reage e provoca. Ferrandini é talento bruto em ascensão (aqui está vibrante e atento) e Faustino tem uma performance especialmente rica, servindo-se do contrabaixo com criatividade.

Jazz Review review by Glenn Astarita

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. http://www.jazzreview.com/cd/review-20673.html