Monthly Archives: May 2012

Kwadratuur review by Joachim Ceulemans

Baloni - Fremdenzimmer (CF 237)
Besproken door Joachim Ceulemans Geïmproviseerde muziek krijgt vaak op voorhand het etiket “ontoegankelijk” opgeplakt. Zeker, sommige musici gunnen de luisteraar weinig aanknopingspunten: ze vermijden vertrouwd terrein en gaan elke vorm van conventionele samenhang of structuur uit de weg. Maar evengoed zijn er muzikanten die zich deze beperkingen niet opleggen en gewoon spelen wat in hen opkomt. Zo schrikt Hamid Drake er bijvoorbeeld niet voor terug om in het gezelschap van een beeldenstormer als Peter Brötzmann heel funky en ritmisch uit de hoek te komen, omdat hij nu eenmaal die achtergrond heeft en hij die muziek door zijn aderen heeft stromen. Ook de leden van het driemansproject Baloni volgen al improviserend hun buikgevoel en creëren op hun eerste plaat ‘Fremdenzimmer’ een heerlijk bruisende klankenjungle.    Baloni is alweer een project met de Belgische rietblazer Joachim Badenhorst, die zich met albums aan de zijde van o.a. Tony Malaby (‘Novela’) en Han Bennink (‘Parken’) de voorbije jaren internationaal nadrukkelijk wist te manifesteren. Met dit plaatje, uitgebracht op Clean Feed, zet hij zijn artistieke opmars nog wat meer kracht bij. ‘Fremdenzimmer’ is namelijk een voltreffer op meerdere vlakken. Zo zorgen de gebundelde krachten van Badenhorst, altviolist Frantz Loriot en contrabassist Pascal Niggenkemper voor een buitengewoon groepsgeluid. De combinatie van twee strijkers en een houtblazer leunt sterk aan bij een klassiek kamermuziekgeluid en ook het repertoire van dit trio doet daar bijgevolg wel eens aan denken.   Doorheen het album zijn er invloeden te bemerken gaande van romantiek tot minimal music en avant-garde. In de liner notes wordt zelfs de Italiaanse componist Salvatore Sciarrino aangehaald met betrekking tot de openingstrack ‘Lokomotive’. Al die (mogelijke) invloeden nemen echter nergens expliciet vorm aan, de muziek van Baloni blijft altijd onvoorspelbaar en fris. De hoofdmoot bestaat uit improvisaties, gaande van korte doedels zoals ‘Wanna Dance?’ en ‘La Marche Sifflante’ tot meer uitgewerkte stukken, maar elk groepslid mocht ook een compositie aandragen. De titeltrack is bijvoorbeeld van de hand van Badenhorst en kent een ijzingwekkend mooie finale, die met een beetje verbeelding zelfs aan Godspeed You Black Emperor! doet denken. ‘27’10 Sous Les Neons’, dat werd geschreven door Loriot, is eveneens een parel. Het trio maakt hier aanvankelijk gebruik van enkele korte, ritmische sequenties (ook in de improvisaties komt dit regelmatig terug) waarvan vooral de zenuwachtige loopjes van Niggenkemper voor hoogspanning zorgen. Een wat smekende harmonieuze partij opent bijgevolg de improvisatiedebatten en dat is duidelijk de specialiteit van de drie.   Nergens wordt er gekozen voor powerplay. Overblazen en in het rood gaan is er voor Baloni dus niet bij. De meeste stukken drijven daarentegen voort op de diepgaande interactie tussen Badenhorst, Loriot en Niggenkemper. De tracks op ‘Fremdenzimmer’ lijken wel kleine machientjes die geduldig in elkaar worden geschroefd en uiteindelijk op een wonderlijke wijze beginnen draaien, zoals het toepasselijk getitelde ‘Lokomotive’ en het griezelig opgebouwde ‘Het Kruipt in je Oren’. Zelden slagen musici er in om zulke korte improvisaties – ‘Searching’ is met zijn acht minuten ruim het langste stuk op het album – telkens een heel eigen karakter te geven, alsof het allemaal uitgewerkte composities betreffen. Mocht het nog niet duidelijk zijn: Baloni is een groep om te koesteren.
http://www.kwadratuur.be/cdbesprekingen/detail/baloni_-_fremdenzimmer/#.T71hmvFhiSM

Cuardenos de Jazz review by Carlos Pérez Cruz

Baloni - Fremdenzimmer (CF 237)
Asegura el pianista Vijay Iyer que “la música es acción: el sonido de los cuerpos en movimiento” (notas del libreto de su último disco, Accelerando). Claro que la acción que estimula el movimiento de los cuerpos en su Accelerando es diametralmente opuesta a la que propone el trío que nos ocupa, Baloni (‘Ba’ de Badenhorst, ‘Lo’ de Loriot y ‘Ni’ de Niggenkemper). Si Iyer pone la música en acción mediante la partición del tiempo en fracciones métricas infinitesimales, el trío Baloni camina sobre el tempo como un espacio físico que se expande y se contrae a voluntad, y sólo en ocasiones prefigura una métrica mensurable. Por otro lado, si Iyer experimenta escrutando hasta el límite el encaje de pulsos rítmicos (con una exigencia extrema de precisión para los músicos), Baloni prima el expresionismo y la textura sobre cualquier otro elemento (con la comunicación -acción, reacción- como elemento primordial para la creación in situ). Formas contrapuestas, e incluso extremas, que no sé hasta qué punto son más un reto para el intérprete que elemento de seducción para el oyente.

Dice también Iyer que “si la música es acción, lo mejor es escucharla en contexto”. Cierto. Pero, ¿cuál es el contexto del oyente actual de música? Déjenme hacer uso de un tópico musical: la música, siempre mejor en directo. Y cuando ésta trata de apelar a algo mucho más amplio que tan sólo al ritmo (¡¿tan sólo?!), más si cabe. He probado a escuchar la música de este Fremdenzimmer en varios contextos propios del oyente de nuestros días, siempre con auriculares. Por la calle (caminando y corriendo), frente al ordenador (trabajando), comiendo (no recuerdo qué), etcétera. Y no funciona. Y resulta curioso cómo una misma pista (un disco entero) puede generar tanto irascibilidad como placidez. Depende del contexto. Es fundamental el contexto. Y resulta paradójico cómo la música que más asociamos a la búsqueda (ergo a la vanguardia creativa) apela, sin embargo, al ser humano que fuimos en otro momento en que (cuenta la leyenda) éramos capaces de concentrarnos en una sola actividad. Es decir, la vanguardia (todo concepto es discutible, claro) al rescate del ciudadano sometido a este insufrible “accelerando” que procura la partición del minuto en mil segmentos, en vez de regodearse y retozar en la naturaleza gozosa de la mera existencia.
http://www.cuadernosdejazz.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2127%3Abaloni&catid=4%3Adiscos&Itemid=7

Time Out Lisboa review by José Carlos Fernandes

Trespass Trio - Bruder Beda (CF 251)
****
Quem conheça o disco anterior do Trespass Trio e a produção do quinteto Angles, também liderado por Martin Küchen, achará Bruder Beda inesperadamente contido. “A Different Koko” dança sobre brasas e “Bruder Beda Ist Nicht Mehr” é tomado por um crescendo de agitação, ao mesmo tempo que a angústia dá lugar à exasperação. Todavia, as restantes faixas pautam-se por melodias dolentes (“Don’t Ruin Me” e “Ein Krieg In Einem Kind”) e atmosferas rarefeitas (“Today’s Better Than Tomorrow”). Küchen é um saxofonista expressivo e de apurado sentido dramático e o seu canto pungente faz com que a contenção nunca se confunda com resignação, apaziguamento ou frieza. Per Zanussi (contrabaixo) e Raymond Strid (bateria) secundam-no com engenho e versatilidade.

Jazz’n’More review by Jürg Solothurnmann

Hugo Carvalhais -Nebulosa (CF 201)
4 stars
Portugal ist keine Aussenstation des Jazz, das belegt einmal mehr das selbstsichere Trio des Bassisten und Kunstmalers Carvalhais (*1978) aus Porto. Zum CD-Debut hat er gleich den New Yorker Tim Berne eingeladen, aber auch die vier der zehn Tracks ohne diesen haben Charakter. Die Band kommt offenbar mit einem Minimum von thematischem Material aus. Das Konzept – und nicht zuletzt die „blaue“ Akkordik des Pianisten – erinnern an Hancocks freien Rockjazz der frühen 70er Jahre. Da ist das bestimmte, expressive Spiel mit vielen Lücken, und der Mix staffelt die Stimmen zwischen Vorder- und Hintergrund, was atmenden weiten Raum und Traumlandschaften evoziert. Hellwach die freien, puzzleartigen Diskurse der Instrumente, deren Initiative ständig wechselt. Trotz ihrer Freiheit hat die andeutend-transparent Rhythmik etwas von der markigen Prägnanz des Hard-Core-Rock. Zu den akustischen Instrumenten gesellt sich teilweise Carvalhais Synthesizer mit ziemlich vokalen Linien. Berne kann seine turbulenten, weit ausgreifenden Improvisationen in ein gemachtes Bett legen: das Trio inspiriert ihn mit originellen Soundtracks. Eine mühelose Partnerschaft, aber ich warte darauf, das Trio mal ausführlicher allein zu hören.

Translation:

Portugal is not an outpost of jazz; once more the poised trio of bassist and painter Carvalhais (b. 1978) from Porto proves it again. For his CD debut, he has invited right away the New Yorker Tim Berne, but also the four of the ten tracks without him have character. Apparently, the band feels at ease with a minimum of thematic material. The concept – and not least the “blue” chords of the piano – is reminiscent a bit of Hancock’s free jazz rock in the early 70s. There is this specific expressive playing with many gaps, and the mix gradually phases the voices between fore- and background evoking an open, breathing space and dreamscapes. Wide awake the free puzzle-like discourses of the instruments, which constantly swap the initiative. Despite their freedom, the suggestive, transparent rhythms have something of the pithy terseness of hard-core rock. The acoustic instruments are partially joined by the fairly vocal lines of Carvalhais’ synthesizers. Berne can lay his turbulent, extended improvisations into a made bed: the trio constantly inspires him with inventively sketchy soundtracks. An effortless partnership, but I’m waiting to hear the trio more extensively.

Jazz´n´More review by Jürg Solothurnmann

Boris Hauf Sextet – Next Delusion (CF 238)
Hauf, a saxophonist, electronic musician, performance and video artist lives in Berlin and maintains a close relationship with Chicago’s avantgarde scene, where he initiated and also curates “Chicago Sound Map”, a festival focusing on the dualism of composition and improvisation. Hauf’s last CD “efzeg krom” was released 2006 on hatHUT. Through selective concepts this German-US production “Next Delusion” successfully translates sound and structures of electronic music to acoustic improvisations. The atmosphere of the collective is the primary focus. Transparent and effective drama is created by clear texture changes that remind me of Bill Dixon and Barry Guy’s LJCO. In “Eighteen Ghost Roads” the three reeds gradually ascend in small groups of sustained notes, to be then primed in the second part by the rumbling continuum of the drums. The reeds weave diverse soundscapes composed of tongue and breath noises, violent chanting and oscillating metallic sounds and become the medium of contemplation.

Der Saxofonist, Elektroniker und Performance/Videokünstler Hauf lebt in Berlin, aber pflegt enge Kontakte zur Avantgarde Chicagos, wo er seit 2007 auch das Festival ”Chicago Sound Map” zwischen Komposition und Improvisation leitet. Die letzte CD ”efzeg krom” des Berliner Saxofonisten Hauf erschien 2006 bei hatHUT. Seine deutsch-amerikanische Produktion ”Next Delusion” ist ein gelungener Versuch, die Sounds und Strukturen der Elektronik mit selektiven Konzepten in akustische Improvisationen zu übersetzen. Es geht vor allem um die Atmosphäre des Kollektivs. Klare Texturwech- sel erzeugen eine schlichte, effektvolle Dramatik, die mich auch an Bill Dixon und Barry Guys LJCO erinnert. In ”Eighteen Ghost Roads” hangeln sich z.B. die drei ähnlichen Blasinstrumente mit kleinen Gruppen ausgehaltener Töne allmählich in die Höhe, grundiert im zweiten Teil vom polternden Kontinuum der Trommeln. Ambientartig werden Bläsersounds vom Zungen- und Atemgeräusch bis zum heftigen Skandieren, schwingende Metallofone und andere Free-Errungenschaften zu verschiedenen Klangflächen verwoben und so zum Medium der Kontemplation. Eindrücklich.

The New York City Jazz Record review by Robert Iannapollo

Nacka Forum – Fee Fi Rum (Moserobie)
Zanussi Thirteen – Live (Moserobie)
Kullhammar/Zetterberg/Aalberg – Basement Sessions, Vol. 1 (CF 246)
With his first album Salut (2000), recorded with his quartet, Swedish saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar came seemingly from out of nowhere to make a major impact on the Swedish jazz scene. Released on his Moserobie label, Kullhammar soon established the label as an operation documenting similar-minded players on the Swedish jazz scene (trumpeter Magnus Broo, singer Lina Nyberg, et. al.). Kullhammar’s quartet has been the mainstay of the label and in 2010 celebrated its tenth anniversary with the release of a superb eight-CD boxed set.

Nacka Forum is one of Kullhammar’s alternate bands. A piano-less quartet, it features Goran Kajfeš (cornet, trumpet, electronics), Johan Berthling (bass) and Kjell Nordeson (drums and vibes). In addition to tenor, Kullhammar appears on baritone and bass saxes, piccolo, clarinet and mini-moog. A little more diverse than his standard quartet’s modus operandi of rousing freebop, there’s still a healthy dose of that on Fee Fi Rum as well as the musical wit for which Kullhammar is noted. Several of the pieces are ostinato-based and handled with a plomb. These ostinatos never get tedious due to Nordeson’s expansive, fluid drums, always keeping the rhythm interesting. Kajfeš’ spiky cornet seeks out weird trajectories and he intertwines nicely with Kullhammar’s reeds when they are playing in tandem, with the cornet/baritone sax combination particularly effective. While much of this is strong, energetic contemporary jazz, when they slow down for a ballad ( “Jimmy”) or a group textural exploration, the contrast is effective. Also mention must be made of the surprising use of timpani on “Borkum Riff”. Although Kullhammar’s freebop-based quartet has the cachet, Nacka Forum at its best sometimes eclipses Kullhammar’s main group.

Zanussi Five is one of Moserobie’s more popular groups, with three albums to their credit. Usually a quintet (three saxophones plus bass and drums) helmed by bassist Per Zanussi, for Live he adds a trombonist, guitarist, extra drummer and five more saxophonists (Kullhammar among them). With this expanded line up, the group becomes a wild, braying beast with beautiful massed choruses, screaming boisterous passages, plenty of creative soloing and more. When he is audible, guitarist Stian Westerhus adds an unexpected, edgy electronic tension, particularly effective when the saxophonists are going at it full-tilt. The compositions showcase the larger ensemble well. Several are rearranged from earlier releases (Ghibli, Body And Zeuhl, Zoanthropy 2) and an arrangement of Ornette ‘s “Street Woman” is one of the more unique handlings of the Coleman composition. Special mention has to be made of drummers Gerd Nilssen and Per Oddvar Johansen, who push this lumbering beast of a group to staggering heights. To his credit, Kullhammar works within the ensemble and is not the star of the set. The real star is the full 13-piece ensemble.

Kullhammar the improviser is heard at length on Basement Sessions, Vol. 1, recorded with bassist Torbjorn Zetterberg (a charter member of Kullhammar’s main quartet) and drummer Espen Aalberg. One gets the impression that Kullhammar just likes to blow and there’s always a joyful cadence to his playing. He seems to relish challenging himself and playing away from his main group is one way to get refreshed. On this disc, the absence of a pianist frees him up for more stratospheric flights, especially on the opener “As Tajm Goes By”. But for all the energy expended on the uptempo blowouts that dominate the disc, perhaps the best track is “Den Stora Vantan”, a baritone exploration, taken at a funereal pace. Kullhammar seems to wrench every sound he can from the instrument during the track’s nine minutes. The album’s skeletal themes allow for plenty of open space and seem to inspire the entire trio, making for a satisfying listen.

The New York City Jazz Record review by Clifford Allen

Wooley/Weber/Lytton – Six Feet Under (No Business)
RED Trio + Nate Wooley – Stem (CF 249)
One of the crucial things about this music is that the concept of a band’s instrumentation is, ultimately, less important than who is playing. We think of the format of a piano trio, an organ group, or a piano-less quartet as given, into which one plugs the holes with artists who have (or can have) a good rapport and the music works itself out in that context. Such ideas have defined ‘jazz’ to some degree for generations. But the last few decades have introduced an incredible amount of flexibility both in how ensembles approach the music, as well as the possibilities inherent in each instrument. Two of trumpeter Nate Wooley’s most recent releases are poised to defy any traditional assumptions about ‘trumpet and rhythm’ even if he’s the only horn.

Six Feet Under joins Wooley with a frequent collaborator, English percussionist Paul Lytton, as well as Swiss bassist Christian Weber on a program of five improvisations. As a trumpet and percussion duo, Wooley and Lytton have circumvented any notions of a drum-and-bugle corps through extensive use of electronics, amplification, voice and close mic’ing, to the point that sound sources are indistinguishable. SixFeet Under isn’t that kind of record, though – Lytton’s kit is more or less traditional, albeit played with light, open concentration and controlled metric wrangling. Wooley’s screams, growls, circular breathing and unsettled chuffs are out in full effect, but tressed by Weber’s massive arco on the opening “Pushing up Daisies”. If it is a fracas, it is conscious of the logic behind group motion. “Nickel Eyes” opens with a syrupy cry, the kind not quite heard from Wooley in this way. He’s translated the harrier-ache of Albert Ayler from tenor to trumpet and he pulls it into a dry, laconic swing against precision flits and a meaty pizzicato anchor. Much of “La Grande Mort” is rootedin long, murky tones and ancillary subversion – the latter almost comedic when bright, muted trumpet and scratched drumheads supplant a protracted, guttural pinch. As both a power trio and an exploratory vehicle, Six Feet Under is a brilliantly equilateral recording.

Stem finds Wooley in the company of one of Europe’s most interesting small groups, Portugal’s RED Trio: pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro, bassist Hernani Faustino and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini. Somewhat akin to ARC (Corea/Holland/Altschul) or the Howard Riley Trio, RED subverts the traditional roles of piano, bass and drums to create a continual hum of percussive-melodic activity. Pinheiro uses the full resources of the instrument, muting and plucking the strings while generating a stark, tense environment from obsessively repeated clusters. Toward the end of “Flapping Flight” he creates a steely drone underneath Wooley’s shrieks and sighs, outlined with brush patter and Faustino’s low harmonics. Swiping whistles across some flat object on “Phase”, Wooley mirrors a palimpsest of feedback and piano resonance before crumpling into a distorted whinny, as the trio’s muscularity is positioned front and center. Subversion is part of the RED aesthetic too, Pinheiro matching the trumpeter’s terse, hot monochromes with well-behind-the-beat chords and rhapsodic head-butts. RED are highly economical and well apprised of the Tradition – at least one can hear it in the pianist’s ringing melodic stabs, which somehow occupy a region between forcing a series of phrases and sweetly caressing them. This coy aggressiveness mates well with Wooley’s clear, instantaneous responseand hackle-raising explosions. The foursome are constantly in action even when ostensibly ‘hushed’ -pursed exhalation, bowed cymbals and low rumblearen’t alien to their palette, maddeningly approaching Nuova Consonanza extremes on the closing “Tides”. Each of the five pieces presents a different group axis, often discomfortingly set between the well-marked poles of brash expressionism and coiled reflection.

The New York City Jazz Record review by Fred Bouchard

Palle Mikkelborg/Thomas Clausen – Even Closer (Arts Music)
Dennis González/João Paulo – So Soft Yet (CF 243)
Giovanni Falzone/Bruno Angelini – If Duo – Songs (Abeat)
Three duos between veteran trumpeters and pianists come in from Denmark, Portugal and Italy. Veterans of cold wars and glacial ice-bound ECM silences, pianist Thomas Clausen and trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg weave ice-fogged, watercolors of shining aqueous hues and drifting interplay on Even Closer. Their melodic offerings, distilled into eerie exhalations and carved in icy sculpture, are straight forwardly crystalline. Glinting, spooky muted Miles Davis (cryo preserved from 1957) looms gently over the minimalist “When Lights Are Low” and “My Funny Valentine”. Anything but fragmented, these miniatures evoke Arctic winters: the cryptic “Do Not Speak” fades with unearthly whale whimpers, the flamenco-tinged “To Read Is To Dream” blurs on a shimmery horizon and the outer-spacey title track echoes Gershwin’s strawberries, freeze-dried on a glinting floe.

So Soft Yet is cantabile poems in a classic Euro-folkstyle. Texas trumpeter Dennis González plays four-square with little vibrato and affectation; Lisbon pianist João Paulo sounds classically schooled with a down-home bent. They weave in special effects from track to track, fueled by motoric rhythm loops. González pre-programs thirds on “Broken Harp” and the spooky closer “Augúrio”. Paulo strokes electric plunking basslines on “El Destierro”, folksy accordion stutters on “Deathless” and “Taking Root”, electric loops on “Broken Harp”. A couple of tracks recall the Enrico Rava/Paolo Fresu Italianate school, with blue fado wisps; one is reminiscent of Jill McManus’ Hopi melodies played sotto voce by Tom Harrell. Yet the duo’s sliding from one easy vamp to the next, rather than building their case with strong melodies, results in a date of pleasant if aimless noodling.

Following the Danes’ chill intensity and the Transatlantic duo’s breezy atmospherics, the team of Sicilian trumpeter Giovanni Falzone and Marseilles-born pianist Bruno Angelini convey nine edgy pieces, credited to Falzone, in a mutually sparking, downright theatrical atmosphere. By dint of varying tempos, timbres and moods, this highly accomplished pair succeed in putting across a vividly dramatic, witty, consistently engaging set. “Marì” leads with splashes of edgy avant guardia, as chance-taking improvisations whirl and fragment. Falzone shows splendid tone and superior melodicism while Angelini dazzles with double-time runs and darting notions that push on into “Salto nel Vuoto” as Falzone opens up handsome flutter-tongue figures. They shuffle “Maschere”(stately) and “Terra” (legato arpeggios) with comically grumbling quasi-scat (“Pineyurinoli”) and a manic off-Broadway two-beat rag (“Wizard”). Other poignant effects are Falzone’s diminutive wah-wah mute expanding to a sweeping legato on “Guardando illago” with Angelini’s comically chirrupy piano, a fast bluesy ostinato named after “Jean Cocteau” and a closing ballad that might complement a genially offhand Charlie Chaplin vignette.

The New York City Jazz Record review by Wilbur MacKenzie

Ballister – Mechanisms (CF 245)
Terrie Ex/Paal Nilssen-Love – Hurgu! (PNL)
Slugfield – Slime Zone (PNL)
Drummer Paal Nilssen-Love has been exceptionally prolific in the last 12 years, appearing on numerous releases each year and traveling constantly throughout the world. First gaining international attention as a member of The Thing, Nilssen-Love has built lasting associations with such ubiquitous improvisers as Mats Gustafsson, Peter Brötzmann, Otomo Yoshihide and Americans Ken Vandermark and Joe McPhee. Nilssen-Love is in possession of prodigious technical skill, but what distinguishes his work is the constant ebb and flow between subtlety and extreme intensity. He manages to function like the drummer in a group while essentially operating more like a sound generator. Three releases find him in different contexts, each reflecting his distinctive musical personality.

The standout from this batch is Mechanisms, the debut from a collective trio with two of Chicago’s most noteworthy improvisers – saxophonist Dave Rempis and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm. The three extended improvisations find the former switching between alto, tenor and bari, with the latter incorporating his distinctive use of electronics. The extended structures provide ample opportunity to explore myriad sound worlds, to build intensity slowly, with purpose and intent. Lonberg-Holm manages to incorporate electronics in a way that transforms his instrument to the point of being completely unrecognizable as a cello- though still managing to sound like the same player he is with his colorful acoustic playing; the play between the two approaches is quite flexible and his fluency with both is inspiring. Rempis is a forceful player whose long phrases can generate dynamic contours out of minute shifts in the timbre of his instrument. So often Rempis and Lonberg-Holm create a profound sonic tandem, with Nilssen-Love approaching the drums not so much as a large instrument, but a handful of extremely varied sounds that can each be explored, separately or together.

Nilssen-Love and Dutch rock band The Ex have a long history and on Hurgu! he is joined by guitarist Terrie Ex in a set of arresting duets. The proceedings remain at a high level of intensity throughout, this being more of a brazen romp than the extended ruminations of Ballister. The textural palette is more consistent throughout and as such the general architecture relies more on the interplay between the two musicians. The emphasis here is on sustaining a level of intensity over a long period of time and the effect is more trancelike. Quiet moments like the opening of “Bedele” offer some of the most unexpected twists in the duo’s interplay while still ultimately delivering the goods with some intense blasts of sound.

Slime Zone by the collective trio Slugfield highlights the growing relationship between free jazz, noise music and so-called ‘non-idiomatic improvisation’. With Lasse Marhaug (electronics and turntable) and Maja S.K. Ratkje (vocals and electronics), this record is an amazing museum of unlikely sounds, at times recognizable or completely alien. Here Nilssen-Love’s approach to his instrument(s) is particularly focused on the collection of sounds each object is capable of producing. The line between rhythm and texture is all but non existent, assounds and gestures blend together or cohabitate in ways that constantly confound listeners’ expectations. The tracks here are generally shorter, with the opening cut “Get Out the Traps” being just under three minutes and most of the rest around ten minutes or shorter. This is noteworthy in that it reflects a much more abstract trajectory than Ballister’s collaborative development of structure or the punishing relentlessness of the duo with Terrie Ex. Bizarre soundscreep in and mutate – fitting that the artwork focuses on a sea of green slime and a parade of goopy slugs, as this is how the music often moves along. There is a joyfulness that calls to mind a child’s fascination with gross things; these sounds tend to suggest an affinity for tactile stimuli and sense that the best place to lookfor something pleasant is in very unsavory places. “Bring ‘Em On” is the outlier, extending well past the 20-minute mark and here the structure has more incommon with Ballister – despite the remarkable contrast between Ballister’s jazz-inflected phrasing sand Slugfield’s sheer noise factor. Taken as a whole these three records offer very different looks at the possibilities of Paal Nilssen-Love’s sound world and each view is vibrant and deeply compelling.

The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

Joe McPhee/Ingebrigt Håker Flaten – Brooklyn DNA (CF 244)
Live Remi Alvarez/Ingebrigt Håker Flaten – First Duet (JaZt TAPES)
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten/Dennis González – The Hymn Project (Daagnim)
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten has rapidly become one of the most prominent bassists in free jazz, in part due to his openness to varied musical situations, but much more so for the sheer power of his playing. First achieving a significant European profile in the late ’90s with Bugge Wesseltoft’s New Conception of Jazz, the first major ambassadors of Nu Jazz, Håker Flaten has since brought his ferocious drive to a host of prominent bands, often in company with the drummer Paal Nilssen-Love (The Thing, Atomic, Ken Vandermark’s School Days and Frode Gjerstad’s stellar improvising big band Circulasione Totale Orchestra) while showing off his softer side in duo with countryman saxophonist Håkon Kornstad. He’s now a significant musical presence in Chicago and Austin – where he resides – as well as Europe. These recent CDs track some of Håker Flaten’s American passages, all close to the beating heart of a fundamentalist free jazz.

Joe McPhee has been a frequent guest with The Thing and the senior saxophonist/trumpeter has previously recorded in duo with Håker Flaten (Blue Chicago Blues, Not Two), so there’s clearly developed musical chemistry on Brooklyn DNA. The duets hinge on the special musical character of Brooklyn, with pieces invoking various individuals and scenes prominent in its musical history. The two musicians craft a compelling vision of community. Håker Flaten’splaying is both empathetic and prodding as he sometimes maintains very fast tempos while expanding his own expressive range. “Crossing the Bridge”, dedicated to Sonny Rollins, suggests compound points of view, with McPhee’s honking alto recalling AlbertAyler, until Håker Flaten enters and the piece assumes the Caribbean lilt of “St. Thomas” and Rollins’ roots. There are fine invocations of Brooklyn visits by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and homages to residents like the late saxophonist Dewey Redman, but the most arresting music is also the most radical: “Enoragt Maeckt Haght”, named for the Brooklyn motto of “Unity Makes Strength”, is a probing exploration of bowed bass and airy pocket trumpet that represents the borough as terra incognita.

Remi Alvarez is a Mexico City-based tenor saxophonist whose work, like McPhee’s, has a direct expressiveness that’s immediately compelling. First Duet Live chronicles an Austin performance by the two musicians. On the 22-minute “First Duet”, Alvarez reveals himself as an incantatory tenor player and one hears his work as testimony, whether it’s creating a song-like stream, worrying a motif into new shapes and meanings or suddenly erupting into multiphonic cries and wails. Håker Flaten roots this discourse intime, surrounding, encouraging, framing and driving it forward. On “Second Duet”, the bassist comes to the fore with some wonderful bowed playing. Alvarez has a strong sense of voice, but he can touch on very different moods and different areas of his horn. There are moments when he finds a new effect in a series of high register yips or, alternately, wisps of sound, ably matched by Håker Flaten’s sudden flights into upper-register harmonics.

Håker Flaten’s aesthetic includes a kind of brutalist spirituality, certainly evident in his work with The Thing, but there’s a far subtler take on the legacy of Albert Ayler and other energy players embodied in The Hymn Project with the great Texas trumpeter Dennis González, his sons, bassist Aaron and percussionist Stefan Gonzalez, and cellist Henna Chou. The CD opens with the hyper-resonant sound of Stefan Gonzalez’ balafon and one eventually has a sense of this resonance echoing globally, touching spirits of Håker Flaten’s native Norway and the Gonzalez family’s Latin American heritage. There’s a sense of continuous melody here, a stream of sound running from instrument to instrument. It’s a chance for Håker Flaten’s lyricism to emerge and it does so in guitar-like lines and subtle pitch-bends, dove tailing with the other strings, the percussion and Dennis Gonzalez’ own inspired, soulful trumpet. Highlights abound, from the pensive mix of instrumental voices on“Doxology” to the rising tension of “Sweet Hour of Prayer” with Håker Flaten’s spare and intense solo.But it’s the cumulative power of the whole program, imbued as it is with an exalted musical nobility, that stays in memory.