Monthly Archives: August 2012

Enola.be review by Guy Peters

Hugo Carvalhais – Particula (CF 253)
Jong talent maakt doorgaans een keuze tussen twee manieren om een entree te maken: ofwel gebeurt dat met grof, ’kijk wat ik durf en ga eens opzij, ouwe!’-geweld, ofwel met een (te) schuchtere aanpak, uit schrik om op de bek te gaan of afgerekend te worden op te vroeg verschoten kruit. Bassist Hugo Carvalhais — slechts een voorbeeld van een nieuwe Portugese generatie dikke snarenplukkers waar onder meer ook Hernani Faustino en de vanuit België opererende Hugo Antunes deel van uitmaken — pakt het anders aan, door van meet af aan hyperindividuele muziek te maken die het niet moet hebben van het grote gebaar, maar van een nog gewaagdere aanpak.   Zijn debuut Nebulosa (Clean Feed, 2010), waarop het trio met pianist Gabriel Pinto en drummer Mário Costa nog eens aangevuld werd door de gerenommeerde Amerikaanse rietblazer Tim Berne, liet al een eigenzinnig geluid horen, iets dat in nog sterkere mate verder gezet wordt op het onvoorspelbare hoorspel dat op Particula de luisteraar dwingt om mee te gaan in zijn verhaal. Het resultaat is opnieuw een rusteloze en vaak expansieve plaat die zich niet zomaar in een categorie laat plaatsen.

Veel heeft daarbij te maken met de manier waarop de muzikanten met elkaar in de weer zijn. Of net niet. Het trio wordt daarvoor vergezeld door de Franse sopraansaxofonist Emile Parisien en violist Dominique Pifarély, beiden virtuozen die zowel de kunst verstaan van de dosering als van de agressievere kleuring en binnen deze composities — soms niet meer dan skeletten waarbij slechts rudimentaire onderdelen of instrumenten invloed of een zicht krijgen op het verloop — zorgen voor een samenspel dat balanceert tussen kaal pointillisme en heftiger drama.

Carvalhais heeft begrepen dat hij met zo’n project best z’n kaarten snel op tafel gooit en “Flux” is dan ook een kleine tour de force, die meteen de eigenzinnige klankkleur van het kwintet op de voorgrond zet, maar ook laat horen hoe slim wordt gespeeld met dosering en structurele keuzes. Spul als dit kan immers snel verzanden in een ondoordringbare hutsepot van ideeën en leiden tot ronduit onverteerbare muziek die misschien wel uitdagend is om te maken, maar zelfs de bereidwillige luisteraar voor voldongen obscuriteit zet. Dat wordt vooral handig ontweken door in de weer te gaan met kleinere fracties.

Je zal immers op zoek mogen gaan naar secties waarin de vijf muzikanten samen in de weer zijn: net zo vaak wordt gevarieerd met gerekte solo’s van slechts één muzikant (“Simulacrum”, dat een mooi contrast biedt tussen het nerveuze getetter van piano/drums en de langoureuze sopraansax, wordt zo op gang getrokken door een twee minuten durende bassolo, terwijl Pinto hetzelfde mag doen voor “Capsule”). In “Flux” duurt het dan weer vijf minuten voor Parisien opduikt, de spookachtige aanloop een wending geeft naar een subtiele, donkere groove die constant in beweging blijft (gepaste titel, dus) en plots laat horen waarom Carvalhais zo’n aanhanger is van Coltrane’s avontuurlijke Sun Ship.

Thema’s en motiefjes vervliegen even snel als ze opduiken, vaak om daarna, binnen een heel andere context, opnieuw de kop op te steken. De voortdurende verschuiving van combinaties en inkleuring binnen de plaat is op z’n minst opmerkelijk te noemen, gaande van getoonzette mysteriën (“Chrysalis”, “Omega”), tot stukken die wat lichtvoetiger, maar even grillig klinken, zoals “Madrigal” met z’n open atmosfeer en plots opduikende elektronica. “Cortex” is dan weer een korte eruptie van bas en piano, een heen-en-weergeprikkel dat een gepaste soundtrack lijkt bij het knetterende flipperspel van de hersenen.

Afsluiten gebeurt met een stuk dat vanuit fragiele pianoaanslagen evolueert naar een haast spastische groepsinspanning (“Generator”), om uiteindelijk te belanden bij een explorerend eindstuk waarvoor bas en drums zich terugtrekken (“Amniotic”). Zo komt Particula even tegendraads als abrupt aan z’n einde. Kortom: dit is er eentje voor onbevreesde, muzikale avonturiers en doorzetters die weg weten met een minimum aan houvast, maar bovenal laat het ook horen dat moderne geïmproviseerde muziek een knap evenwicht kan vinden tussen structuur en vrijheid, door te geven én te nemen, te sturen én de teugels te vieren en het proces van actie versus reactie voortdurend af te wisselen met het inlassen van (adem-)ruimte. Dat Carvalhais dat zo vroeg in zijn carrière al onder de knie heeft, belooft veel moois voor de toekomst.
http://www.enola.be/muziek/albums/20012:hugo-carvalhais–particula

JazzWord review by Ken Waxman

Bruno Chevillon/Tim Berne – Old and Unwise (CF 221)
Tim Berne – Snakeoil (ECM 2234)
After keeping a low profile of late, working mostly as sax-for hire in co-op bands, New York alto saxophonist Tim Berne asserts himself more conspicuously with these revealing projects. Old and Unwise is a set of unvarnished improvisations between Berne and French bassist Bruno Chevillon. Recorded seven months later, and his first studio date in eight years, Snakeoil introduces a new Berne combo, which tellingly doesn’t include a bass player. Instead Berne’s alto forays are harmonized with Oscar Noriega’s clarinet and bass clarinet, Matt Mitchell’s piano and Ches Smith’s drums.

A major stylist, Chevillon often works with baritone saxophonist François Corneloup, pianist Stéphan Oliva and guitarist Marc Ducret, the last of whom is a long-time Berne collaborator. With the judicious strength and skill of a bassist like Paul Chambers, Chevillon’s outlook is both abstract and comprehensive, as likely to be expressed in wood-smacking power or sul ponticello slices as pulsing twangs or balanced walking.

For his part, the saxophonist’s taut expressiveness cycles though a variety of sequences and segments. Harsh split tones and reed bites are raisons d’être with enough space left to examine and illuminate the partials of many tones. On the other hand measured cries and trills add to the balladic or narrative portions of his solos. A track such as the concluding “Single Entendre” for instance, matches bagpipe-like air releases and pressurized tongue stops from Berne with string clicks and reverberations created by the bassist vibrating a small stick and his hands among the strings and against the bass’s belly.

Meanwhile the segmented “Au Centre Du Corps” features Chevillon’s spiccato string motions that solidify into powerful plucks as a counterbalance to Berne’s abstract, altissimo timbre-analysis. As he works his way down the scale with double tonguing the altoist almost sound as if he’s quoting “A Love Supreme”.

Widened syncopated phrasing resulting from Berne’s tongue stops and tone variations reach a climax on the appropriately titled “Chance Taken”. As the bass line moves from string-vibrations to thickly paced pops, Berne’s rubato and tonal advances move forward. Breaking up the line with a few altissimo licks, the reedist pushes out first single notes, then complete clusters, while apparently examining and testing every reed property.

With more tonal colors available, Berne has a different strategy on Snakeoil; plus all the compositions but one are his. Taking advantage of Smith’s clockwork-style percussion, Smith’s metrical chording and Noriega’s harmonized glissandi, this is a less frenetic disc, but with equivalent power sublimated just below the surface.

After two years of gestation. It’s no surprise the performance is convincing. But at the same time these New York-based players are used to interpreting various visions. Mitchell, long interested in Berne’s music, also plays with the likes of guitarist Mary Halvorson, and saxophonist Darius Jones. Smith, who is in several bands with Mitchell, has also worked with Halvorson, as well as rock band Mr. Bugle and saxophonist John Tchicai. Noriega has played everything from interpretations of Charles Ives’ compositions to the Mexican-inspired Banda De Los Muertos, as well as gigging with drummer Paul Motian. On Snakeoil he’s most likely to use one of his clarinets to harmonize melodiously with Berne’s alto. At the same time his gnarly squeaks and peeps can provide a pointed obbligato to the others work.

Take “Yield”, co-written by Berne and Mitchell and “Spectacle” as exemplars. Both evolve with a free-floating mellowness which includes harmonized reeds and piano key strumming. On the former the textures move forward in dribs and drabs without losing the pulse as Mitchell’s rhythmic dexterity is matched by Smith’s vibraharp bounces. A broken-chord clarinet line has already glided across the low-frequency piano chords as Berne’s buoyant obbligato becomes screechier and more irregularly paced. It finally moves southwards until Smith hits a backbeat and the four modulates back to the free-flowing head.

In contrast, the theme of “Spectacle” is broken up with key clips, bongo-like reverberations and bass drum smacks. Noriega’s supple clarinet lines balance atop Smith’s clatter and pops until the reedist begins spinning out pressurized and staccato theme variations joined by Berne in near-scream mode. As the piano cadenzas toughen and the drum work hardens a two-horn fortissimo run signals the finale.

Among the tremolo piano keys chiming, clipping and fanning, the tandem reed stretches and trills and measured percussion pace, Berne has managed to create a self-contained program which is sophisticated without being sloppy and mercurial without being monotonous or jarring. There is enough thematic material to keep the program moving on an even keel, and enough exploratory kineticism with unexpected instrumental tones to keep things interesting. Furthermore there’s enough skillful instrumental virtuosity to showcase each man’s particular talents.

Finally under his own name again, Tim Berne is back in top form.
http://www.jazzword.com/review/127886

Chicago Reader review by Peter Margasak

Berlin-based Austrian reedist Boris Hauf has been a regular visitor to Chicago since 1998, often taking up residency for months at a time. He’s developed close ties and friendships with many locals, mostly notably the members of TV Pow. Hauf arrived here Sunday night for a stay of two and a half weeks, and on Wednesday he’ll perform at the Hideout in an improvising quartet with bass clarinetist Jason Stein, bassist Anton Hatwich, and drummer Tim Daisy. Also on the bill is a project called Baseless led by cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm (here doubling on guitar), which includes saxophonist Nick Mazzarella, percussionist Steve Hunt, and analog synth player Aaron Zarzutzki.

Two of Hauf’s latest recordings were cut in Chicago during a 2010 visit, and they both bring together players from the improvised and experimental-music communities. Next Delusion (Clean Feed,CF 238) is a sextet outing with fellow reedists Stein and Keefe Jackson and drummers Frank Rosaly, Steve Hess, and Michael Hartman, and as Reader contributor Bill Meyer writes in his liner notes, “You might find the Berlin-based saxophonist’s accompanists on the same bill, but not in the same group.” Indeed, Hauf combines aesthetics and personnel from both worlds not only on Next Delusion but also on Proxemics (Creative Sources), a quartet album with Jackson, Hess, and keyboardist Judith Unterpertinger; they dig deep into sustained drones rippling with subtle textural variation, while maintaining a clearly improvisational mind-set.

Everyone joining Hauf for Wednesday’s performance is rooted in Chicago’s jazz and improvised-music community, but all of them are flexible enough that things could go in any direction. Below you can listen to a piece from Next Delusion.
http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2012/08/07/wednesday-boris-hauf-is-back

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

Hairybones – Snakelust (CF 252)
*****
O CD começa a rodar e logo se é assaltado pelo tipo de paroxismo sonoro que por vezes ocorre, durante alguns segundos, no clímax final de uma música. 13 minutos depois a intensidade do início não dá sinais de fraquejar e começa a temer-se pela saúde dos músicos e pelo relacionamento com a vizinhança. Vem então uma acalmia – em que o baixo e a bateria mantêm uma tensão ameaçadora – e finalmente uma trégua (relativa), só com saxofone e trompete. Por volta dos 20’, recomeça o fervilhar e com a reentrada do baixo, regressa a fúria cega do início. No final, o turbilhão desvanece-se, gradualmente, e saxofone e trompete ficam sós numa pungente elegia – quem só ouça os segundos finais será incapaz de adivinhar o tumulto que reinou antes.

O registo do concerto dos Hairybones no Jazz em Agosto de 2011 compõe-se de uma única faixa e é o segundo CD no circuito comercial deste quarteto que une o alemão Peter Brötzmann (sax, clarinete, tarogato) ao japonês Toshinori Kondo (trompete), um veterano que há muito colabora com Brötzmann (nomeadamente no quarteto Die Like A Dog), ao italiano Massimo Pupillo (baixo eléctrico), membro dos Zu e dos Dimension X, e ao sueco Paal Nilssen-Love (bateria), motor dos The Thing e dos Atomic e parceiro em múltiplos projectos de Ken Vandermark e Brötzmann.

O sax cospe linhas serpenteantes de veneno, a trompete processada soa como uma criatura maligna do espaço sideral, o baixo com distorção é uma máquina trituradora de apetite insaciável, a bateria desfere golpes como um pugilista ensandecido. Talvez seja necessário algum masoquismo, mas ser sovado durante 53’ pode ser uma experiência sublime.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Elliot Sharp Trio – Aggregat (CF 250)
The trio configuration of Elliot Sharp with Brad Jones on bass and Ches Smith, drums, works well. Their album Aggregat (Clean Feed 250) shows that. Ches is a create free-pulsating drummer who uses the whole kit in creative ways; Brad Jones gets some good free, forward-driving things happening on bass.   The big surprise of this disk is Elliot’s presence on tenor and soprano as well as electric guitar. I’ve heard him on reeds for some of his larger ensemble compositions and he always sounded right. But in a small group setting like this one he gets a chance to stretch out. He has a sound, he has ideas, and he’s his own man.   On guitar of course Elliot is a bonafide original and he lets go here with some psyche-out electric cranking in a free improv trio context for some more excellent work. His sense of form and compositional bent come through in his soloing here as elsewhere. His is a structured, form-creating freedom and he shows you how that works on this album.   Another good one from Maestro Sharp!
http://gapplegateguitar.blogspot.pt/

Paris Transatlantic review by Jason Bivins

Joe McPhee / Ingebrigt Haker Flaten – BROOKLYN DNA (CF 244)
The superb multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee – who is this year receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Vision Festival – teams up on Brooklyn DNA with ace contrabassist Haker Flaten for a terse, tart series of duets that exude energy but are grounded in a undeniably engaging melodic sensibility. The riff-based “Crossing the Bridge” gets things started off in exuberant fashion, with hot, ragged, tone-bending alto teasing out an Ornette-ish refrain. “Spirit Cry” finds McPhee on soprano, exploring another simple, cell-like phraseology while Haker Flaten works out some chromatic shapes to create the effect of a staggered counter-phrase here, a pinwheeling harmonic center there. The focus and abecedarian structure of some of these tunes certainly recall Lacy, but in some sense I’m also reminded – perhaps especially with the restless lyricism of “Putnam Central,” with brassy sputter from pocket trumpet – of Julius Hemphill’s duets with Abdul Wadud. There’s more information in this brief album than in a dozen meandering duets, and the music is with each moment committed, emotional, and imaginative. Just listen to “Blue Coronet’s” groaning, gravity-sucked double-stops and that intensely forlorn McPhee melodic sense as the sound becomes aroused, with the bassist moaning and pizzing so vigorously that the tune ascends into buzzing joint pointillism. After a blast of heat and density on “214 Martense,” the squeaking circular breathing of pocket trumpet and bowed metal sounds of “Enoragt Maeckt Haght” make for a nice changeup. And for the concluding “Here and Now,” McPhee patiently blows soprano to create beautiful layered rhythms and contrasting articulations between the pair. This is the real shit.
http://www.paristransatlantic.com/magazine/monthly2012/06jun_text.html#4

Paris Transtlantic review by Jason Bivins

Elliott Sharp Trio – AGGREGAT (CF 250)
Aggregat is an hour from the latest iteration of E#’s trio, this time featuring the leader / guitarist bringing his tenor and soprano (but no clarinet) along for the ride, in the company of bassist Brad Jones and the increasingly ubiquitous (and deservedly so) Ches Smith on drums. It’s an inconsistent set to my ears. The loping, slightly sour “Nucular” opens the album, its slow clattery groove a nice platform for Sharp’s little bursts and curlicues. We hear a similarly rangy mid-tempo stroll on “Hard Landing,” but it starts out with spindly guitar that revs up into crazed distorted shred, almost as if Sharp has been cross-breeding No Wave with Orthrealm. Back and forth the pieces go between flinty guitar trio tracks and often uncertain horn pieces like the stuttering soprano piece “Mal Du Droit” or the uninvolving “Estuary.” I’ve never been able to warm to Sharp’s horn work, though I know he’s got technique. Even on his main axe, he often seems to want to do too many different things too much of the time. Even on skronky tunes like “The Grip” I don’t feel it unless I concentrate heavily on the rhythm section. There are moments on the guitar to be sure, and it sounds as if Sharp has slightly reconfigured his guitar style so that it juts midway between early Sharrock and 1990s Cline. But aside from some lusty tenor shrieks on “Allelia,” a pleasing bounce knit throughout “Gegenschein,” and some fractal guitar madness on “Refractory,” I find this disc largely unmemorable.
http://www.paristransatlantic.com/magazine/monthly2012/06jun_text.html#4