Daily Archives: June 1, 2010

All About Jazz Italy feat by Vincenzo Roggero

Kirk Knuffke 

01. Sonny Rollins – Don Cherry – Complete 1963 Stuttgart Concert (RLR Records – 2009)
Sonny Rollins è uno dei miei idoli e questo è uno dei gruppi migliori che io possa immaginare. Con Don (che suona in maniera sorprendente), Billy Higgins e Harry Grimes! E’ una fase artistica di Sonny che mi piace particolarmente.

02. Ives play Ives – The Complete Recordings of Charles Ives at the Piano 1933-1943 (New World Records – 2006)
Dischi sorprendenti registrati dallo stesso Ives a casa sua.
Mi piace ascoltare i compositori suonare la propria musica. Come Harry Partch, Terry Riley e altri. La cosa che sorprende di più è la comunicazione. Si percepisce una immediatezza ed un’emozione che si trovano normalmente solo nelle improvvisazioni.

03. Art Pepper – Renascence (Galaxy Records – 2000)
Uno scintillante live set del 1975. All’inizio del suo ritorno. E non suona affatto come se fosse semplicemente un ingaggio per una serata. Art non si risparmia mai. Lo adoro.

04. BassDrumBone – The Line Up (Clean Feed – 2006)
Ray Anderson, Mark Helias e Gerry Hemingway. Questo gruppo ha più di trent’anni! Hanno una tale confidenza. Trovo il trombone affascinante da ascoltare e da suonare e Ray è uno dei migliori.

05. Pierre Cochereau – Un Testament Musical (Disques Fy & Du Solstice – 1984)
Venticinque improvvisazioni all’organo di Notre-Dame nel 1984. Queste improvvisazioni sono tra le cose più all’avanguardia che abbia mai sentito.

06. Marshall Allen and Lou Grassi – Live at Guelph Jazz Festival (Cadence Jazz records – 2007)
Registrato dal vivo nel 2001. Mi piace davvero ascoltare Lou e Marshall in questo tipo di contesto con così tanta libertà. Da sempre associato a Sun Ra credo che Allen sia un sassofonista sottovalutato.

07. Pee Wee Russell – Coleman Hawkins – Jazz Reunion (Candid – 1962)
Pee Wee. Ho sempre ascoltato Pee Wee Russell. Alcuni musicisti hanno una tale ispirazione che la band può ruotare intorno a loro mentre sono tranquillamente seduti nell’occhio del ciclone. Improvvisazione selvaggia. E che Suono!

08. Jimmy Lyons – Sonny Murray – Jump up (Hat Art – 1980)
Mi sto accorgendo che molto di quello che sto ascoltando in questo periodo è registrato dal vivo. Questo a Willisau. Jimmy non è mai a corto di idee e mi piace il feeling con il tempo. E’ musica che swinga!

09. Michael Attias – Renku in Coimbra (Cleen Feed – 2009)
Mi piace ascoltare i miei amici musicisti. Michael è un sassofonista eccezionale. L’interplay con Satoshi Takeishi e John Hebert è grande. John è uno dei migliori contrabbassisti in circolazione.

10. Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee – Complete 1938 to 1948 (Jsp Records)
Uno dei più grandi duo di blues di tutti i tempi, con Brownie che suona a stretto contatto con l’armonica virtuosistica di Sonny. Molto ispirato.

Temporary Fault review by Massimo Ricci

The Continuing Saga Of Clean Feed
Selected picks from the ever-growing pile of recent and past releases from Clean Feed’s catalogue, with more to come in the next weeks.

Bernardo Sassetti (piano), Carlos Barretto (bass), Alexander Frazão (drums). Classic Sassetti, you can’t go wrong with that. All but two compositions are by him, the opening and the closing tunes by, respectively, Linkous and Mompou. Some of the music was conceived for cinema and theatre, a specialization of this great artist. Difficult to remain confined in the ambit of critical reasoning when listening to the emotion-eliciting records that the Portuguese pianist delivers with impressive regularity. Emaciated linearity, melodic unambiguousness, memories now fading, now perfectly clear. A world of forgotten glories and smiling sadness, in which one breathes slowly while watching life unfold without a clue on how to change it. An indispensable interior geometry bathed in uniquely sober romanticism, never transcending to mellifluousness. Themes that recall a hundred influences yet always sound like deeply personal suggestions, which a open heart can take in and utilize for putting a finger on what looks unapproachable at first. Fluttering thoughts, sudden realizations, dissimulation of sorrow. A lesson on the essentials of introspective recollection, performed with uttermost class by three superb musicians.

CARLOS BICA + MATÉRIA-PRIMA – Carlos Bica + Matéria-Prima (CF 180)
Carlos Bica (double bass), Matthias Schriefl (trumpet, flugelhorn, melodica), João Paulo (piano, keyboards, accordion), Mário Delgado (electric guitar), João Lobo (drums, percussion). Ever since the very beginning – “D.C.”, namely almost ten minutes of a basic rock-blues vamp with rather ordinary playing from all members – your reviewer was awfully confounded, thinking of a sort of indecipherable homage to certain sonorities of the late 60s. It didn’t get any better: the whole album sounds as a collection of discarded soundtracks from 30-40 years ago, stuffed with easy-to-digest melodies, elementary arrangements, washed-out progressions, generally predictable solos. Everything extremely dated in a passionless exercise-like style: no emotion, no impulsiveness, nothing that managed to protract my curiosity for more than fifteen seconds. If there’s some irony disguised in this release, I really could not understand it. To this raconteur it is just desolately tiresome, veritably lacking a pulse, the lone exceptions being a nice enough track called “Roses For You” and the encore, an excellent cover of Ry Cooder’s “Paris, Texas”. Dulcis in fundo indeed – but the large quantity of preceding monotony is too much to overcome with that only.

AVRAM FEFER – Ritual (CF 145)
Avram Fefer (alto, tenor & soprano sax, bass clarinet), Eric Revis (bass), Chad Taylor (drums). The utter loathsomeness afflicting the stereotyped music played by a large chunk of trios is mostly forgotten in Ritual, not a revolution but a sincere, honest album for sure. An open minded group working halfway through cognizant dynamism and regulated liberation without forgetting the basics of classic jazz. Starting from straightforward elements such as an African rhythm, a rudimentary melodic figuration or a contemplative theme, the three become involved and almost tangled in zealous interpretations of a rather modern literature, upon which Fefer moves with a good degree of fervor, a desire of “letting people in” and the full consciousness of the space around his phrases, which he inhabits placidly enough, minus any kind of coercion towards the audience. Excellent work from Revis and Taylor, who challenge the commonly intended concept of foundation to add their own breakthroughs, thus contributing to elevate the overall intensity – and, ultimately, the interplay’s strength – to higher levels.

Duets for piano (Paulo) and Bb cornet plus C trumpet (González). I only see a minor problem in an otherwise perfectly fine CD, namely its unnecessarily stretched duration at over 72 minutes. In consideration of the homogeneity of such a kind of instrumental tête-à-tête, which more or less revolves around the same factors (especially on a timbral level), one could have kept the whole under 50’, thus avoiding the risk of experiencing a smidgen of weariness at the end with what’s instead admirably played music, often poetic, even mathematically challenging at times, always informed by the right balance between discerning insight and top-rank methodological mastery. The couple, as per González’ account in the liners, spent quality time at the pianist’s home on a hill that dominates Lisbon. This confidence is perceivable all the way through, the musicians reciprocally responding to invitations and implications with delicacy and acumen, ultimately letting us forget about mere (and cold) technical issues thanks to a clear ability in catching resonating essences from the very air that surrounds them.

Guitar, double bass and drums, following the artist’s names order. Lopes thinks intensely to Sonny Sharrock (the dedicatee of the initial track “Evolution Motive” together with Charles Darwin) but also winks to early John Scofield, jarring angularity and a substantial dose of edginess still prevailing on the mass-approved tolerability of a fusion-tinged bluesy style. He’s a rather abstemious soloist after all, paying special attention to the correct placement of notes, not exactly longing for the sanitization of his sullied tone, which is a good thing in terms of originality. Lane offers a great performance throughout, the foremost traits being an overdriven bark containing the multi-purpose password for an actual crossing of genres and a grimily involving, arco-generated drone particularly manifest in the nearly elegiac “Cerejeiras” and in the closing solo “Perched Upon An Electric Wire”. Israel’s Foni is a surprise, at least to this writer who met him here for the first time. Freely flowing yet adult, constantly conscious about the place to be at every juncture, present at the right moment to unchain the bolder handiwork. A responsive companion for Lopes and Lane’s swapping of blows, a propulsive activity that never deteriorates.

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

Unlike your reviewer, smart Italians know that the sooner they’ll leave the native country, the better their lives will turn for, in a direct proportion to the chances inevitably gained. In the case of baritone saxophonist and composer Alberto Pinton, Sweden has been the land in which his musical conceptions started to get the proper diffusion. This quartet – recorded in Coimbra, Portugal, during the month of July in 2008 – comprises musicians who collaborate together recurrently in a multitude of different combinations, gathered in this particular configuration upon incitement of Clean Feed’s honcho Pedro Costa.

The sense of enthusiasm, divertissement and satisfaction manifested by the players throughout the extensive program is literally touchable. The group performs superb contrapuntal themes neatly, obeying to the rules of respect when necessary, at all times ready to self-fragment and become four separate lady-killing units. Eloquence devoid of affected postures, the artists intent in establishing the truth transiting in the mind at that very moment. The double sax attack brought by Pinton, who also plays clarinet, and Kullhammar – on baritone, besides a mean tenor – is extravagant at best, elegantly moderate (so to speak) at worst. They’re aware of where they are at every minute, displaying methods for audience gratification through brilliant samples of erudite instrumental irresponsibility. Bassist Zetterberg and drummer Nordeson (featured on vibes, too, in “Let Ring”) form a proactive rhythm section that contributes to add fuel to the fire in more than one occasion; just check “Chantpagne” to realize how agitation and lucidity can sometimes coexist without damage.

Obstinate, efficient and often amusing, this music is destined to keep you heart-warming company for a good while. An excellent attempt of tearing down the walls that divide free jazz from predetermined composition, minus the excesses of diligence that would transform the whole in a sterile exercise. On the contrary, these pieces approach a combustible status quite frequently, but never deflagrate into cheapness.

All About Jazz New York review by Andrey Henkin

Clean Feed Fest NY V
With its fifth annual festival in New York, the Portuguese label Clean Feed accomplished the simultaneous purpose of highlighting individual artists as well as its larger aesthetic mission. Each night of the three-day celebration at Cornelia Street Café presented working bands from Europe and the States, two wellsprings from which the imprint draws its talent. The final evening (May 9th) was the most obvious example of this dichotomy: the half Portuguese-half-Italian quartet Tetterapadequ sharing a billing with New York saxophonist Tony Malaby’s Voladores group. The audience was highly partisan, Portuguese bubbling up before the concert and during intermission, eager to hear Tetterapadequ’s particular brand of amorphous jazz. This owed more to the American avant garde of the late ‘60s, á la Paul Bley or even Wayne Shorter, in its spaciousness, particularly pianist Giovanni di Domenico, the band spiking only rarely in favor of rounder edges, skirting dissonance with a Southern European romanticism. Malaby only had drummer Tom Rainey from the 2009 album in tow, the rest of the band filled out by bassist Sean Conly (himself a Clean Feed artist) and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. Though known for his bombast, the leader was carried away by the activist bassist and the healthily-competing, and quite different, drummers, a liontamer locked inside a cage of his own making, content to add an emotional layer on top of the cerebral onslaught.

All About Jazz review by Tad Hendrickson

Tony Malaby and His Horn Bring the Clean Feed Festival’s New York Shows to a Close
It was late night on Sunday, May 9, when Tony Malaby and his Apparitions Quartet were cooking through a set of songs filled with high-energy improvisation, complex polyrhythms and beautiful melodies. Backed by drummers Tom Rainey and Satoshi Takeishi as well as bassist Sean Conly, Malaby played saxophone with a bristling intensity that matched the two-drummer backline, rocking back and forth with his eyes closed as he did. The sound filled the cozy basement of Cornelia Street Café as fans took in the adventurous music with a nodding approval.

The percussion-heavy band found a nice sweet spot between the angular playing of Rainey and the more impressionistic pastiche of Takeishi, who focused on hand percussion. It’s often dicey putting two drummers in the same band, but the two worked well together for the most part, conjuring a strong tribal vibe at times and then stepping back when the music went quiet and melodic. The two only ran afoul when they were too in sync, playing in unison from time to time instead of conversationally. At their best, you could hear the two batting rhythmic ideas back and fourth, elaborating on different elements of the groove while moving the music forward together. As a linchpin between the two, bassist Conly seldom wandered from the pulse of the music while providing a bit of harmonic context for the reedist.

Malaby was in his element from the get-go. The set opened with a light dancing improvisation by the band, with him on soprano sax. While this combo is different than the one that appears on the recent CD ‘Valadores’ (Rainey being the only other member to appear on the CD), it went seamlessly from tune to tune. The music here was inspired by the folkloric valadores that Malaby saw as a kid growing up in Tucson, Ariz. — here, five Mexican folk musicians play and dance and then climb a 100-foot pole before four return to the ground, unwinding the ropes that hold them as they go. The fifth person remains at the top of the pole playing. The set opener gave the piece a fluttering feel one imagines comes when they watch these musical daredevils come down the pole. When Malaby switched to tenor for the meat of the set, his tone took on big Coltrane-like feel that that was both beautiful and brawny.

Put together by the Portuguese label Clean Feed, this was the final of six sets that made up the fifth annual Clean Feed Festival New York May 7-9, before it moves on to Chicago May 14-15 for sets featuring Chicago locals including Jeb Bishop, Keefe Jackson and Jason Roebke, as well as some New Yorkers and Portuguese players. The Chicago Culture Center and The Hideout will both feature sets each night. Go here for set times and lineups. There will also be Clean Feed Festivals in Utrecht, Netherlands and Ljubjana, Slovenia this year, as well.

The Lisbon-based label started out in 2001 as an outlet for some creative but lesser known Portuguese players like the Red Trio and Tetterapadequ (who both played in New York) as well as some slightly more established international ones like New Yorkers Malaby, Erik Friedlander, Marty Ehrlich and many others. Not much has changed, but now the label has more than 180 stylishly designed titles under its belt.

On a par with such American avant-garde jazz labels as Aum Fidelity, Pi Recordings, Cryptogramophone, Tzadik and few others, Clean Feed has quickly become a beacon of improvisational jazz. The label has regularly been recognized in recently years for its work by such in-the-know organizations as Allaboutjazz.com and the Jazz Journalist Association, where it is currently one of five labels nominated for “label of the year” at its 2010 Jazz Awards.

Last Sunday, the label had a small table set up in the back that featured works by Malaby and many others who played the festival. After the set, people milled around the table, energized by the music and looking for a souvenir to bring home. Standing outside afterward, even Malaby himself was revved up, talking excitedly as if he was still at his horn on stage.

Jazzin review by Nikola Marković

Keefe Jackson Quartet – Seeing You See (CF 176)

Još jedna u nizu uspešnih saradnji muzičara sa čikaške džez scene 

Kolektivni duh avangardnih džezera iz „Vetrovitog grada“ po ko zna koji put rezultovao je novom postavom sačinjenom od dobro nam poznatih muzičara. Kvartet tenor saksofoniste Keefea Jacksona dopunjavaju preiskusni trombonista Jeb Bishop (The Engines, Lucky 7’s), basista Jason Roebke (Mike Reed’s People, Places & Things) i japanski bubnjar Noritaka Tanaka, a Seeing You See je njihov debitantski album.

Kako to već biva u svetu džeza, a naročito na razvijenim scenama poput čikaške, prvo izdanje nekog benda često ne predstavlja početničko razrađivanje aranžerskih ideja i međusobno upoznavanje muzičara, već okupljanje zrelih improvizatora i starih saradnika koji u određenom stilskom idiomu plivaju poput riba u vodi. Takav je slučaj i sa Keefe Jackson Quartetom.

Džez kritika o plejadi mladih čikaških asova i njihovim radovima često govori kao o „post-Vandermark eri“. No dok su kultni sastav Vandermark 5 i njegov lider skloni eklektici u kojoj ima mesta i za fank/rok/pank primese, ostatak scene je mahom okrenut tradiciji i fri-džez varijacijama s uporištem u šezdesetim godinama prošlog veka. Pri takvom odnosu snaga naročito je zanimljiva uloga Jeba Bishopa, koji je po godinama i stilu bliže Vandermarku, ali poslednjih godina pretežno radi s mlađom ekipom i ima ulogu svojevrsnog mentora i spone između dve generacije muzičara.

Stoga i njegovo učešće na albumu Seeing You See možemo posmatrati kao veoma blagotvorno po Keefea Jacksona. Iako se talentovani tenorista kreće po utabanim post-bap i fri-džez stazama, zapazićemo i pomake u odnosu na njegov nekadašnji bendliderski projekat Fast Citizens. U postavi s šestoricom muzičara bilo je više prostora za interakciju, unisone i komponovane deonice, dok format kvarteta u prvi plan stavlja dvojicu duvača i njihova sola. Tako je Jackson konačno u prilici da u punoj meri istraži sopstvene instrumentalne potencijale na tenor saksofonu i bas klarinetu, i on to obilato koristi.

Njegove solo deonice nešto su nežnije i diskretnije nego što bi se očekivalo od prosečnog fri-džez tenoriste i poseduju specifičan „ženstveni“ kvalitet, a tada i očekivani odlasci u vriskove i skvičanje dobijaju osobeni šarm. Jacksonovo poigravanje s propuhom vazduha i intenzitetom odsviranih sola obeležilo je ovogodišnji beogradski koncert s Mezei Szilárd Trijom. Čikaški saksofonista i ovde koristi iste metode umešno dovodeći sola do tačke ključanja, ali retko kada se prepuštajući potpunoj ekstazi i raskalašnoj svirci. Rezultat je specifičan dramatični ugođaj gde nema klasičnog „razrešenja“ kroz gradiranje instrumentalnih deonica, a slušalačka tenzija je omeđena samo otvarajućim i završnim temama u numerama.

Za muževnu svirku zadužen je Jeb Bishop, koji se iz petnih žila upinje ne bi li pokazao koliko trombon može da bude moćna alatka u džezu. Biće tu i rafalnih otvorenih sola i atraktivne upotrebe prigušivača, i čiste agresije i diskretne pratnje. Ritam sekcija svira mahom slobodno, i nešto ređe u baperskom duhu, doprinoseći dramatici ploče kroz konstantnu međuigru kontrabasa i bubnjeva, iz koje se uzdižu duvačka sola.

Jackson je autor svih kompozicija. Teme su melodične i zahvaljujući Bishopovom trombonu imaju određen „bluesy“ kvalitet, a osvrću se na različite fri tradicije, od Colemana do Dolphyja i Aylera. Jedino što bi im se možda moglo zameriti je manjak originalnosti, premda je solidan autorski potencijal nagovešten u numeri Turns To Everything, gde nakon baperskog uvoda slede nešto moderniji ritmovi i interesantni brejkovi s kontrabasom u glavnoj ulozi.

Da snimci koji se nalaze na albumu nisu napravljeni još 2008. godine, rekli bismo kako je Keefe Jackson napredovao kao aranžer i instrumentalista u odnosu na pređašnje radove. No pošto smo upoznati s datumom izrade, ostaje nam da zaključimo kako se ovaj čikaški muzičar bolje oseća i više pruža u malim ansamblima, gde bi se našao u glavnoj instrumentalnoj ulozi. Nadajmo se da je ovo samo prvi u dugačkom nizu albuma novog Jacksonovog kvarteta.

El Intruso review by Sergio Piccirilli

Lawnmower – West (CF 178 )

Calificación: A la marosca

Busca y encontrarás, lo que no se busca permanece oculto (Sófocles)
El arte es siempre un canal de conexión entre el universo exterior del artista y su mundo interior. La captación de ese todo unificado puede manifestarse en tres dimensiones fundamentales de la sensibilidad: la apertura hacia lo diferente que mora en el mundo exterior, la fuente del sentido que reside en la construcción interior de lo percibido y la exploración interior liberada mediante diversas formas de expresión. Esa búsqueda por revelar lo oculto que impulsa al artista, puede tomar vida y manifestarse de un modo trascendente a través de su obra. No obstante, en el devenir creativo no resulta sencillo poseer un sentido de lo universal que permita descifrar los signos transcendentes de los tiempos, sobre todo cuando nos enfrentamos en la actualidad a un paradigma cultural que parece darle la espalda a lo interior. La búsqueda del artista por trascender es un infrecuente contacto con el alma humana que nace de un principio de necesidad interior. Ese extraordinario objetivo que alberga en cada artista se encuentra mucho más cerca de lo que pensamos, ya que su fuente no está únicamente asociada a inalcanzables postulados estéticos o en los ademanes ampulosos de la sabiduría infinita, sino también en las propiedades emocionales de cada uno de nuestros actos, en la experimentación de lo mundano, en los silenciados sacrificios que nos impone la vida cotidiana.
El arte es una exploración interior; pero esa exploración, aunque parezca un juego de palabras, también es un arte en sí mismo y su cabal entendimiento, como decía Carl Jung, es similar a “tender un puente entre el conocimiento intelectual y conceptual y el conocimiento inmediato y vivencial”. La búsqueda interior y la necesidad artística, la experiencia y el saber acumulado, lo transcendente y lo mundano, pueden reunirse excepcionalmente en la obra de un artista.

Algo de todo eso parece encajar con el enunciado estético representado en West, el álbum debut de Lawnmower. En este trabajo su líder, el baterista y compositor Luther Gray, manifiesta en cada gesto la búsqueda de un sonido interior y una voz propia que enhebre la aspiración artística con lo meramente experiencial. Así es como la plástica de la banda recoge los diferentes hábitos adquiridos en su carrera musical, desde el temprano paso por el punk con Tsunami a sus colaboraciones orientadas al jazz en las bandas de Joe Morris y Steve Lanter pasando por el tránsito en el campo de la libre improvisación junto a luminarias de la música creativa como Anthony Braxton, Steve Swell, Ken Vandermark, Taylor Ho Bynum, Fred Anderson y Joe McPhee, entre otros. Sin dejar de mencionar al álbum New Salt de 2005 en donde participaron tres de los cuatro integrantes deLawnmower (el baterista  Luther Gray y los guitarristas Geoff Farina y Dan Littelton); antecedente cuyos afanes artísticos parecen haber completado el ciclo de su evolución musical con la incorporación del saxo alto, y miembro fundador de la notable Fully Celebrated Orchestra, Jim Hobbs.

En el análisis del cuadro de situación en que se funda este proyecto resulta imposible eludir el extravagante nombre adoptado por el cuarteto, ya que Lawnmower (en inglés, cortadora de césped) no parece ser una denominación de sencilla aplicación para un grupo que orbita los contornos del jazz, el rock, el post-punk y el folk alternativo. Sin embargo, una mirada más profunda puede permitir el hallazgo de puntos de contacto en términos de ilación de conceptos.

En la denominación de una banda siempre subyace un enlace con los antecedentes practicados por sus miembros. Así es como un músico que durante su etapa formativa trabajó en la guardia de un hospital podría llamar a su primer experiencia grupal Traumatismo de Cráneo y triple fractura expuesta de tibia y peroné; o alguien que subsidió su carrera musical vendiendo electrodomésticos elegiría para su banda nombres tales como La Licuadora o El Lavarropas o La cocina de cuatro hornallas con encendido eléctrico (lo que esté en oferta).
En relación al caso que nos ocupa debemos señalar que Luther Gray asegura haber invertido muchas horas escuchando música mientras cortaba el pasto, de allí la proveniencia del nombre Lawnmower. Confesión que seguramente haría muy feliz al ingeniero Edwin Beard Budding, quien al patentar la cortadora de césped en 1830 afirmó que su invento haría “que los caballeros del campo, al usar mi máquina, estén realizando un ejercicio, útil y saludable”.

En concordancia con lo expuesto podemos atestiguar que escuchar el álbum debut de Lawnmower también es un “ejercicio, útil y saludable” pero que tiene la ventaja de no requerir para su disfrute que seamos “caballeros del campo” o que para su goce debamos usar una maquina de cortar pasto. Y si no me cree, escuche música en una cortadora de césped y después me cuenta. Lawnmower, en el álbum West, testimonia una declaración estética clara, convincente y muy personal, ornamentada con una infrecuente paleta sonora fundada en batería, dos guitarras eléctricas y saxo alto que le otorga una pátina de incontrastable originalidad a su alineación tímbrica.

Esas características se manifiestan y potencian desde la apertura con One, pieza en la que se distinguen los difusos contornos de un ambiente rural signado por la melancolía, la soledad y una atrapante sensación de pesadumbre. Mientras la aparentemente lábil batería de Luther Gray ofrece inquietantes matices, las guitarras de Geoff Farina y Dan Littelton construyen un envolvente entramado armónico estratégicamente embellecido por el dramático ascenso dinámico que dibuja el siempre atinado saxo de Jim Hobbs.

Glasstambién recorre una senda de atmósferas opresivas, tensiones subyacentes e intensidades contenidas pero adornada con inasibles ecos orientales que parecen retumbar en los confines de la música de los Apalaches. Un imaginativo mosaico sonoro que enlaza los circunspectos trazos que emanan de la batería y las guitarras con el sobrecogedor lamento que emerge del saxo.

Prayers of Deathrecuerda la evocación de la música country que suele caracterizar a algunas composiciones de Bill Frisell; pero mientras estas últimas permiten imaginar a un vaquero sonriente, recién salido del coiffeur y doctorado en Oxford, en la aproximación de Lawnmower se visualiza uno abandonado a su suerte, andrajoso, solitario, rebelde y, por ende, mucho más creíble.

Giant Squid(en inglés, Calamar Gigante), al sumergirse en las profundidades de un desconocido y frenético paisaje sonoro, parece hacer honor a su título. Una colisión de perturbadoras disonancias e insólitas armonías en donde el saxo alto resulta la única “voz” humana que logra emerger a la superficie.

En las sombrías texturas de la opresiva y a la vez frágil atmósfera de Dan se enfatizan aspectos estructurales, cromáticos y formales que, a la manera del arte abstracto, eluden imitar modelos o formas naturales. Mientras que en la etérea I Love, los sutiles trazos de la batería de Luther Gray, el inquietante bloque sonoro de las guitarras de Geoff Farina y  Dan Littleton y la soberbia enunciación melódica del saxo de Jim Hobbs se funden en una embriagante danza de extraña belleza. Finalmente, Two oficia como una especie de secuela expandida y optimista del tema de apertura pero atravesado por ruidos ambientales que asemejan el sonido de (claro está) una cortadora de césped.

Lawnmowerdespliega una asombrosa aptitud para crear imágenes cargadas de tensión, limita el efectismo a momentos claves y apela a la sugerencia antes que a impactar con determinados recursos, haciendo que las propiedades emocionales de cada tono respondan a un juego de la imaginación en donde las formas musicales parecen entrar en contacto con el alma humana.

La deuda que tenemos con el juego de la imaginación es incalculable (Carl Jung)

All About Jazz review by Clifford Allen

The city of Chicago continues to find itself in a jazz renaissance well into the waxing years of the 21st century—a status that many of America’s cities can’t easily lay claim to. With the pedigrees of individual improvisers and composers like reedman Ken Vandermark and flutist Nicole Mitchell well established in the 1990s, a slightly younger generation of players has assembled things in their wake, on both the North and South Chicago axis.
The most individual voices to step out of this environment include tenor saxophonist/bass clarinetist and composer Keefe Jackson and alto saxophonist/clarinetist Aram Shelton (now based in Oakland, CA), active in Chicago since the beginning of the 2000s, recording in situations ranging from orchestras to duos. Two new releases shed some light on their work—Jackson’s quartet on Clean Feed (his third date under his own name) and the second disc by the cooperative ensemble Fast Citizens.

Keefe Jackson – Seeing You See (CF 176)
Though the Windy City environment has played host and university to a disproportionate number of harmonically advanced and structurally interesting improvisers, Jackson’s gifts and rewards are not worn on the sleeve. His gruff tone and laconic phrasing are reminiscent of another Arkansas native, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, who was a charter member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Phrases often come in short bursts of sound, taut braying split tones or pillowy minor explosions, which in their hesitant, round cadence land in a realm closer to 1970s firebrands like tenor men Frank Lowe and Hans Dulfer.

Seeing You See is Jackson’s second appearance for Clean Feed; he recorded as a sideman with trombonist Jeb Bishop’s Lucky 7’s (Bishop is also featured here). The quartet is rounded out by bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Nori Tanaka on ten of the leader’s compositions. The format of trombone, tenor, bass and drums recalls saxophonist Archie Shepp’s mid-1960s group with trombonist Roswell Rudd, as well as Dulfer’s Heavy Soul Inc., and the opening “Maker” calls up the latter in its singsong atonal theme. That’s not to say anything on Seeing You See is particularly a throwback; after a brief collective improvisation, the tenor man’s phrases hang in bunches or hesitant, feral needling.

Bishop becomes more interesting with each recording, his oily tailgate and plunged accents a garrulous and intelligent complement to Jackson’s rhythmic tug. The light, shimmering chatter of cymbal and snare, outlined by Roebke’s constantly shading outlines are a multidirectional wave for the horns’ dialogue of flinty tenor nips and chortling bugle-flick. An unaccompanied near-calypso tenor melody opens “If You Were,” probing and breathy, leading into a knotty multipart theme, folksy yet moving through a hive-like progression. Bishop digs in with vocal, muted bluesiness over a pliant wood-and-skin gallop, Tanaka and Roebke engaging a push-pull with time and temporality around the trombonist’s solo. Jackson comes in with oddly-paced stabs and towel-shaking grunts, picking at sound and movement in a seeking dialogue.

“Put My Finger on it” is the closest the quartet gets to a yawing bop number, albeit clearly rustling in the litter for something hidden and beyond. Another mixture of swaggering, gutbucket blues and pan-tonal pilings shows up in “Eff-Time,” an updating of structural/sonic mash familiar from Shepp’s Live in San Francisco (Impulse!, 1966); Bishop moves into an unaccompanied flutter and multiphonics section before brashly steamrolling over drone and patter, while the leader stretches his vibrato and harried gruffness over a sharp groove. Meanwhile, “Turns to Everything” snatches a fragment of reedman Eric Dolphy’s “Hat and Beard,” merging it with rockish slink and splayed-open unison. With Seeing You See, Keefe Jackson and his mates have really outdone themselves, updating methods of classic free jazz into something that reminds us how the whole of this music is resoundingly contemporary.

Aram Shelton’s Fast Citizens – Two Cities (Delmark)
The Fast Citizens are a Chicago-Bay Area cooperative consisting of Jackson and Aram Shelton on reeds, cornetist Josh Berman, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, bassist Anton Hatwich and drummer Frank Rosaly. The idea behind the group is that each member would take turns “leading.” Jackson led its debut, Ready Everyday(Delmark, 2006), and now it’s Shelton’s turn with Two Cities. Since relocating to California and studying at Mills College, Shelton has proved himself to be an extraordinarily versatile musician-composer, leading the Ornette Coleman/John Carter-inspired Ton Trio, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz’ fractured post-bop quintet, and until Weasel Walter jumped ship for New York, appearing often in the drummer’s extremely out free jazz units. True to its nature as a collective project, four of the disc’s nine tunes are written by other members of the group (including one by Hatwich), but Shelton’s pen gets the lion’s share of space.

The title opener is a buoyant and chock full piece to both begin the date and state the sextet’s aesthetic. The theme is a jubilant upward rondo, moving into short circular patterns before the full ensemble weight drops out to leave alto, cello and percussion in a sharp but highly mobile sparring set. The leader’s alto and Lonberg-Holm’s black-laquered sawing are perfectly matched, as ebullient and loquacious overflow and flattened Roscoe Mitchell-like squall mark Shelton’s phraseology. Another written section emerges with popping, thin riffs behind coiled and somewhat funky exhortations that, with a little brightening, wouldn’t sound out of place on a South African jazz record. Jackson’s tenor is a little more reined in here, but still unfurling in lines that are long and slightly skewed.

Berman and Rosaly engage in an airy and incisive duet, the cornetist’s fat, early-jazz swagger spinning yarns as the drummer’s net of shifting accents provides painterly support. That brass shout carries over into a dialogue with blatting tenor on Jackson’s “Big News,” its theme a lush front-line unison riding clipped tempo a la saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Shelton’s statement is coolly controlled flutter, scalar runs and curlicues, progressive and spinning in an alternate but wholly related structure to the theme. It’s doubtful whether Joe Chambers would have assembled a solo similar to Rosaly’s, though—his waves are detailed, rising floes that check a planar rhythmic influence bridging Pierre Favre and hip-hop.

Shelton’s “Western Promenade” and “In Cycles” seek whimsy in classical poise, the former a rattling sashay that leads into a strange merger of Lee Morgan-like brass, minimalist march and squirrely plasticity. While Jackson isn’t as distinctive on bass clarinet as he is on tenor, his duet with Hatwich is a curious dance within the promenade’s architecture, moving from pensive cries and taps to wryly caressing play. A pendulum-like swing embodies “In Cycles,” even as out-of-sync toms and cymbals jumble rhythm in another direction. Thin staccato backs Shelton’s spry clarinet digs and whirls in a solo that calls to mind Michel Portal and Francois Houle more than Perry Robinson. The composer Anthony Braxton would call the work of Shelton, Jackson and their compadres restructuralist, for though it draws heavily from history and precedent, these influences and ideas are rearranged and combined in a way to exude something not only contemporary, but beautifully futuristic.

Gapplegate Guitar and Bass blog

Carlos Bica: New Jazzed-Rock From Portugal

Carlos Bica + Matéria-Prima (CF 180)
Carlos Bica is an excellent bassist. He can bow with the best of them and his pizzicato soloing is always interesting. But he also can write well and puts together a sterling jazzed-rock congregation on his new Carlos Bica and Materia Prima (Clean Feed) CD. The band has Mario Delgado on electric guitar who contributes much to the ensemble sound and solos with taste. Keyboard/accordionist Joao Paulo does good work as well. Matthias Schriefl is perhaps the best soloist of the lot; his trumpet/fluegelhorn gets funky with a plunger mute or just glides nicely as a straight horn.

This is a group sound and they show remarkable poise on this series of live dates. The music is very enjoyable and has some real Euro-Portuguese flavored charm. The arrangements really are what puts this one over the top. Materia-Prima has considerable subtlety for an ensemble that mostly keeps in a jazzed-rock mode. Kudos for Mr. Bica!

Chili com Carne review by Marcos Farrajota

RED Trio – RED Trio (CF 168)
O que leva um gajo a comprar CD’s nos dias de hoje? Não sei se consiga enumerar todas as razões (que não são muitas, diga-se) mas há uma que convence, que é após um bom espetáculo ao vivo podemos querer “levar” um bocado dele para casa… E foi o que aconteceu comigo com os Red Trio embora entre o concerto <http://mesinha-de-cabeceira.blogspot.com/2008/07/festival-sonic-scope-fonoteca-de-lisboa.html> e o CD passaram-se uns dois anos, porque só agora houve uma estreia fonográfico para este projecto de Jazz.
Jazz? Acho que não é… Nada percebo de Jazz e tenho raiva a quem saiba, só sei que é um género que é uma bela seca tirando uma coisa ou outra, como os alguns dos velhotes que tem piada, e mesmo esses… Dos novos nem sei como há paciência para eles… Os Red Trio São dos “novos” e partem da muita clássica formação bateria / contrabaixo / piano mas invés de “swingarem” algo de convencional – ou fingirem algo de não-convencional como acredito que aconteça por aí – fogem para campos do Improv e Experimental que os metem num plano “Alien”. Há uma raiz e rasgos do Jazz mas os instrumentos vão se “concretizando” de forma que a dada altura parecem estarem a serem “expostos” invés de serem “tocados”. E se julgam que estamos na calmaria típica à portuguesa – porque não há movimento na animação portuguesa? e na dança? e no teatro? «Portugal paradinho é um miminho!» poderia ser o slogan das Artes dos criadores nacionais, não? – enganam-se muito com os Red Trio, a sua música é física e chega a ter rasgos de violência que lembra ruídos industriais antigos de SPK ou algo assim.
Bizarro q.b., esta é uma das grandes surpresas do ano!