Category Archives: CD’s

Music and More review by Tim Niland

CF 294Eric Revis – In Memory of Things Yet Unseen (CF 294)
Bassist Eric Revis is one of the leading lights of modern jazz, able to walk between the mainstream and the avant-garde at will. This lineup proves it, with Revis on bass, Chad Taylor on drums and vibraphone, Bill McHenry on tenor saxophone and Darius Jones on alto saxophone. The music is quite remarkable, an example of which is the extraordinary free-blues of “Son Seals” presumably dedicated to the great Chicago bluesman. McHenry and Jones make for an excellent front line: McHenry has a lighter tone, while Jones has a rough and ready and occasionally caustic manner on his instrument. The open ended nature of the music gives them a lot of opportunity to express themselves, such as on “Somethings Cooking” and “Unknown” where the saxophones swirl and intertwine like a helix, moving from solos to harmonizing at will. Revis and Taylor are as impressive as the saxophone players, with the bassist grounded able to solo and support at a whim. Taylor is the same way, adding shifting rhythms and patterns that allow the music to move in any possible dimensions. The excitement of the music builds to a high level of energy full band power and solo excitement. I think this may well be one of the finest albums of the year to date.

http://jazzandblues.blogspot.pt/

Free Jazz review by Chris Haines

CF 295Sei Miguel – Salvation Modes (Cf 295)
****
I hadn’t heard of Sei Miguel before approaching this album, which now seems ludicrous as he’s been actively releasing albums of experimental music since the late 1980’s, with the likes of Manuel Mota and Rafael Toral coming through his ensembles and in the process becoming more well-known than their original mentor. Over the years he has trodden a very consistent stylistic path, which has naturally developed during the course of time and can be clearly heard when listening to music from his back catalogue.

His early albums are adorned with pin-up style photos of himself which any self-respecting pop star would love to have, whilst the music contained inside is completely avant-garde yet also very personal in style. Throughout his career he seems to have built-up a very individual aesthetic that doesn’t appear to have deviated from his original focus.

The music on Salvation Modes continues in this rich vein with the first piece ‘Prelúdio e Cruz de Sala’ starting very quietly and containing a lot of space within the music with different sounds gradually entering softly. Having carefully built this calm and relaxed soundscape an electronic buzz-saw type sound then gate crashes the scene completely cutting through the musical fabric in stark disparity. This contrast of sounds seems to be something that is part of his compositional principles where timbres are carefully chosen not just for their moment-to-moment dynamism but also for the overall shape and structure of the piece. Just as important within that strategy is the use of silence, which Miguel uses to heighten the effect of his music.

The other two pieces ‘Fermata’, which contains a ground of white-noise throughout and is the shorter of the three tracks, and ‘Cantata Mussarana’ apparently based on a Creole purification ritual containing the voice of Kimi Djabaté as a central focal point, round out the album and continue in the same stylistic trait as those familiar with Sei Miguel’s music would expect. As a trumpet player he seems to have devoted himself to the exclusive use of pocket trumpet over the years with a tone that’s not too dissimilar to that of Miles Davis, particularly through the use of his muted tone and short bursts of melodic phrases.

The personnel used on this album are André Gonçalves (organ), César Burago (percussion), Ernesto Rodrigues (viola), his long-term stalwart Fala Mariam (trombone), Kimi Djabaté (voice), Luis Desirat (drums), Margarida Garcia (twin?!), Monsieur Trinité (Bandoneon), Nuno Torres (alto saxophone), Pedro Gomes (guitar), Pedro Lourenço (bass), Rafael Toral (electronics) and himself, Sei Miguel (pocket trumpet). These musicians are not employed on all tracks but appear in carefully handpicked combinations over each of the three pieces.

I find Sei Miguel’s music very sensuous and highly emotive and even though it appears to have been thought through systematically and intellectually it is a very personal music, which is a natural extension of his life’s work so far. Salvation Modes is a great continuation of this style and the man’s artistic vision. Let’s hope that his first three albums, which are now very hard to find, get a reissue onto CD in the near future!

http://www.freejazzblog.org/

Enola.be review by Guy Peters

3 x Martin Küchen – Angles 9, Küchen & Landæus Trio, solo

De negenkoppige versie van Angles die in 2012 nog in Hasselt stond (een concert dat deels door Clean Feed werd uitgebracht als In Our Midst) trok in 2013 ook nog de studio in om daar zijn vijfde album in te blikken. Het was de eerste keer dat het niet op een podium gebeurde. Niet dat het iets afdoet aan de impact van de muziek, want Injuries is vermoedelijk de meest complete en uitbundige Angles totnogtoe.

CF 303Van de shock & awe-methode van de band is dan ook nog geen greintje verloren gegaan. Küchens paradepaardje is een ‘niets in de handen, niets in de mouwen’-machine, een denderende muziektrein, een negenkoppig balorkest dat recht op het hart mikt met grandioze thema’s, pompende ritmes en genoeg drama om een avond toptheater op te luisteren. Angles beschikt over finesse, mysterie en intelligentie, maar is bovenal een gulle band, eentje die regelmatig op het rempedaal gaat staan, maar vooral ook voluit gas durft geven. Voor zoutpilaren is zo’n bonkend hart misschien wat veel van het goede, de rest gaat voor de bijl.

Meer dan tevoren is de spirit van Afrika in de muziek geslopen. De Oost-Europese en Arabisch getinte referenties, die waren er al, maar de Afrikaanse drive waar we in Hasselt al even van mochten proeven (maar wat niet echt meegenomen was op het korte In Our Midst), legt een nog grotere nadruk op ritmische stuwing. Dat is meteen al dominant in opener “European Boogie”, dat na een vibrafoonintro en een daaruit opduikende drumaanzet uitpakt met een van de meest swingende thema’s uit de uit z’n voegen barstende Anglescatalogus. Kleurrijk samenspel, vitale power en vooral die organische schwung.

De muzikanten die Küchen omringen zijn stuk voor stuk kleppers die perfect omkunnen met technische hoogstandjes, maar de strakheid van Angles is er geen van de machinale metronoomperfectie, maar van de schuring. Dit is jazz met bakken soul, vloeiende timing en een wisselwerking waarbij muzikanten inpikken en verder bouwen op elkaars hints alsof er wordt gewerkt met doorgegeven atletenstokjes. Hier is geen plaats voor gladheid. En als dan eens de treurnis wordt opgezocht, zoals in “Eti”, dan is dat met de overtuiging van iemand die het klappen van de zweep kent. Composities bloeien open, vallen uit elkaar en pikken zichzelf op om nog sterker dan tevoren terug te keren.

Er zit ook een onwaarschijnlijke dynamiek in deze plaat. Voor elke minuut filmische grandeur krijg je ook een stuk bonkende, dansende wereldjazz. Zo’n “Ubabba” werkt al net zo aanstekend als de muziek die The Ex opnam met Getatchew Mekuria, terwijl de denderende grandeur het titelnummer past als soundtrack bij de Spaanse burgeroorlog, vooraleer weer om te slaan in tumultueuze freejazz en een fantastische, ontroerende tweede helft die geen mens onbewogen kan laten. Rauw, rafelig, fragiel, gekwetst, somber, dromerig en heroïsch in één. Al goed dat het afsluitende “Compartmentalization” even een lichter geluid laat horen, anders zou je er nog een gebroken hart aan overhouden.

Naar goede gewoonte bevat ook deze Angles wat bekend werd dat hernomen wordt. Hier is dat een prachtversie van “In Our Midst” (al mis je de aanmoedigende kreten van Küchen uit de live versie) en het tweeledige “A Desert On Fire, A Forest / I’ve Been Lied To”, dat al te horen viel bij respectievelijk Trespass Trio en All Included. Een bezwerende trip én een albumhoogtepunt van meer dan twintig minuten dat in z’n tweede helft minstens zo diep kerft als “Injuries”.

We maakten ons onlangs nog de bedenking dat de woede en de verontwaardiging eigenlijk al te veel naar het achterplan verschoven zijn binnen de jazz. Angles 9 zet dat alweer voor een stukje recht. De methode is bekend, het effect blijft even sterk. Dit is geëngageerde muziek van de gebalde vuist en het bloedend hart, intens persoonlijk en vertrouwend op collectieve macht. Het resultaat is voor de vijfde keer een prachtplaat en legt de lat hoog voor wie dit jaar nog een statement te maken heeft. Overrompelende plaat van Martin Küchen (alt- en tenorsax), Alexander Zethson (piano), Mattias Ståhl (vibrafoon), Johan Berthling (contrabas), Andreas Werliin (drums), Magnus Broo (trompet), Mats Äleklint (trombone), Goran Kajfes (kornet) en Eirik Hegdal (bariton- en sopraninosax). Het album verscheen op CD en 2LP.

Maar er is nog meer voor de liefhebbers van Küchens werk. Het Moserobie-label van Jonas Kullhammar bracht zopas ook een Four Lamentations And One Wicked Dream Of Innocence uit van Martin Küchen & Landæus Trio. Dat trio bestaat uit pianist Mathias Landæus, bassist Johnny Åhman en drummer Jonas Holgersson. Als Angles 9 de band van maximalisme is, een expressieve davertrein, dan kiest dit kwartet resoluut voor meer introverte oorden. Dat wil niet zeggen dat het vuur verdwijnt. Integendeel, net als bij het Trespass Trio zit de passie hier net onder het oppervlak — altijd aanwezig, maar eerder smeulend dan brandend. Vier van de vijf stukken zijn haast volledig uitgebeend en minimalistisch, drijvend op sobere, repetitieve elementen, of het nu gaat om een lome aanhoudende baslijn (“Post Injuries”) of een trance die ondanks meer reliëf toch intact blijft.

Landæus duikt soms in de pianobuik om de snaren te bewerken en ze die metalige resonantie te geven, maar zijn spel is doorgaans zeer beheerst, alsof hij in slow motion zit te repeteren, blijft weglaten tot hij overblijft met de essentie. Ook de ritmesectie houdt het doorgaans bij de basis, waardoor dit een compactheid krijgt die haast meer gemeen heeft met de doomjazz van Bohren & Der Club of Gore dan andere Zweedse krachtpatsers. Dat maakt het ook dubbel zo mooi als de muziek dan toch even gaat wringen, horten, stoten (Küchens bekende “Don’t Ruin Me”). Zelfs als die baritonsax ruist en vergezeld wordt van een bas en drums die tergend traag hun ding doen (“En Jämtländsk Xe”) verdwijnt de intensiteit niet. Fluisterjazz, maar zo zwart als de nacht.

In “Du Rör Dig Så Sakta…” duikt een baslijn op die je met wat goede wil funky zou kunnen noemen, maar het is een compositie die ook een zuiderse invloed verraadt, die lijkt te twijfelen tussen het Europese Zuiden en het Midden-Oosten, waarbij de piano al net zo mooi uitblinkt als de sax. Afsluiter “One Minute Of Innocence” krikt het tempo en de energie op, gaat van start met Küchens kapot klinkende altsax die een boppastiche lijkt te willen aanzetten, maar gaandeweg meer ontregelt. Een plaat met enkel dat soort spul zou er zeker ingaan, maar nu heeft het ook een knap verrassingseffect na de voorgangers. Een plaat die misschien wel de grootsheid en woeligheid mist van het beste van Angles 9 en Trespass Trio, maar al net zo duidelijk en verslavend de Küchen-stempel draagt. Het album verscheen enkel op (blauw) vinyl, in beperkte oplage.

Ten slotte verscheen recent ook nog soloplaat …And Everything Inside Came Down As Dust bij het Confront label, dat een decennium geleden al solowerk van Küchen uitbracht (en zijn cd’s nog steeds verkoopt in mooie metalen doosjes). Dit laat een heel andere gedaante van de saxofonist horen, met muziek die in het verlengde ligt van The Lie And The Orphanage (2010) en Hellstorm (2012). De goede verstaander weet dan dat er van die uitbundigheid waar dit artikel mee begon niets meer over blijft. Hier draait het immer om geluid in z’n meest geïsoleerde vorm. Voluit geblazen melodieën komen er niet aan te pas; dit draait om pure textuur, luchtverplaatsing, lippenspanning en drukwisseling.

De opnames gebeurden in de Weense Expedithalle, in vooroorlogse tijden een van de grootste broodfabrieken. Verwacht echter geen bakken galm of weidse sound, want Küchen keert hier naar binnen met zijn saxen en ‘preparaties’, waarvan de aard doorgaans compleet onduidelijk is. In “2 Million Sq Ft Of Masonry” hoor je een combinatie van plofklanken en vervormde muziek. Een cassetterecorder in de klankbeker? Een pocketradiootje dat niet goed afgesteld is (we zagen hem daar al mee in de weer)? Geen idee, maar het zorgt voor een effect dat zowel prikkelt als verwart. In “5 Million Square Ft Of Painted Surfaces” draait het dan weer om een grotesk uitvergrote ademhaling die door het mondstuk (of misschien wel rechtstreeks in de sax) geblazen wordt.

Elders komt er geslurp en gekraak aan te pas, krijg je een drone te horen die naar elektroakoestische regionen lonkt, komen er flarden vervormde Arabische muziek voorbij en lijkt het even alsof je luistert hoe iemand geschoren wordt in een kapsalon. Een vreemd auditief spektakel waar spoken door lijken te waren. Met “Ritual Defamation In Vienna” komt dat politieke element weer naar boven dat centraler stond op Hellstorm. Die laatste plaat had ook iets meer impact, werkte geslaagder in op het gemoed, maar ook dit album laat een kant van de artiest horen die op z’n minst een opmerkelijke contrast vormt met de extraverte emo-aanslag van Angles 9.

http://www.enola.be/muziek/albums/23838:3-x-martin-kuechen-angles-9-kuechen-a-landaeus-trio-solo

Burning Ambulance review by Phil Freeman

CF 298Lawnmower – Lawnmower II (CF 298)
It’s always interesting when a band undergoes a major metamorphosis between albums, yet retains its name. Drummer Luther Gray has been a part of at least two such bands. He plays for guitarist/bassist Joe Morris‘s Wildlife, which started as a trio (Morris, Gray, and tenor saxophonist Petr Cancura) on its 2009 self-titled debut, but added alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs to the lineup on its second release, 2011′s Traits. And he’s the leader of Lawnmower, which on its 2010 debut West (reviewed here) found Gray and Hobbs teaming up with guitarists Geoff Farina and Dan Littleton for an album that blurred the boundaries theoretically separating blues, noise-rock, and free jazz. (Note: Farina, Gray and Littleton recorded an album as New Salt in 2005.)

Well, four years later, the second Lawnmower album is here, and Lawnmower II is a very apt title, as this is a very different album from its predecessor. Gray and Hobbs remain, but both guitarists are gone, replaced by violinist Kaethe Hostetter and electric bassist Winston Braman. The result is a set of jammy, slow-burning pieces that drift away from the at times fierce abstraction of West in favor of trancelike extrapolations of relatively simple melodic ideas.

Things start off fairly upbeat, with “Good Beat,” a loping groove driven by sharp, almost Tony Conrad-with-Faust-ish juxtapositions of violin over throbbing, one-chord bass and tribal-ish drumming. Around the three-minute mark, Hostetter’s violin begins to drift in a cloud of reverb, as Hobbs’ saxophone squeaks like a door. “Jumping Off the Bridge,” the second track, is the most conventionally “jazzy” piece here, Hobbs spinning out thoughtful, subdued melodies as his bandmates drift in an abstract blues zone. “Space Goat,” the longest piece on the album at over 12 minutes, is also the weirdest. Hobbs is relatively restrained, never erupting into free/avant squawking, while Hostetter plays aggressively, through a wah-wah pedal, and Braman’s bass is huge and dubby; at one point, he cuts loose with a fuzzbox and starts to sound like Andrew Weiss of the Rollins Band. The violin work makes the whole piece reminiscent of, of all things, Edie Brickell and New Bohemians‘ “What I Am.” Behind them all, Gray thwacks out a steady snare rhythm—this track, out of everything on Lawnmower II, would be the most likely to appeal to jam-band fans rather than jazz listeners. “Cartoon,” a two-minute eruption, juxtaposes sawing, post-Ornette Coleman violin against whinnying saxophone, as Braman’s fuzzed-out bass and Gray’s avalanche drumming surge and recede below. “Walk in the Park,” a ballad of sorts, showcases Hobbs’ ruminative alto (the first three minutes of the piece are basically a long saxophone solo) as much as his ability to create keening harmonies with Hostetter. On the nearly nine-minute “Tiny Wings,” though, their interaction is less about harmony and more about engaging in some kind of squealing contest, her violin zooming like a theremin as he loops and dives through the horn’s upper register; meanwhile, Gray dances on the cymbals and Braman strums the bass in a range somewhere between Bill Laswell in Last Exit and Jane’s Addiction‘s Eric Avery. The final track, “Ashed,” begins with two minutes of long tones from violin and saxophone, the bass and cymbals only gradually emerging behind them; eventually, it all morphs into a slow-walking blues, taking the album out on a soft, brooding note.

Lawnmower‘s resistance to easy definition makes them one of the more exciting groups around. It’ll be interesting to see what form they take on album #3.

http://burningambulance.com/2014/06/18/lawnmower/

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

CF 297Rodrigo Amado – Wire Quartet (CF 297)
****
If anything, we can applaud the work done by Pedro Costa of Clean Feed to get Portuguese musicians of quality visibility and especially audibility outside of the country. One of these musicians is saxophonist Rodrigo Amado, featured here in the past few days with three excellent albums.

His Wire quartet consists of Hernani Faustino and Gabriel Ferrandini, the rhythm section – if I can use that word – of the much acclaimed RED Trio, and with Manuel Mota on guitar, featured before on this blog on various guitar reviews.

Amado is a fierce saxophonist, but his sound his warm and deep, which he manages to maintain even in the more savage moments. He is not Brötzmann or Gustafsson or Dunmall or Perelman or Gjerstad. His sound is warm and gentle like a summer breeze, even when the breeze gets to storm level, it is never bone-chilling, it keeps its warm round tone.

With the Wire Quartet, the band improvises freely, without prior themes or agreements, music flowing as it is, in the moment but with a great sense of direction, and with Amado leading the quartet through moments of calm intensity, of more nervous agitation, of increases speed and volume, and all nuances in between. Faustino and Ferrandini I no longer need to acclaim, as I have done that sufficiently before, these guys know their craft – technically – and their art – musically – to co-create to move as one to emphasise to color to propulse forward to go against the grain and to support.

Mota’s guitar is the disruptive element in the band. His harsh dry sound is the ideal counterbalance of the sax, offering a strange tension of extremes, yet they move so well in the same direction that the disruption becomes a real partnership, like rocks in a stream creating torrents. “Abandon Yourself”, the first track, is almost half an hour long, and moves like a river from quiet brook over wild rapids to quieter places again, with Mota’s noise forcing Amado into savage outbursts and Amado’s sax pushing Mota into unexpected moments of sensitive gentleness.

“Surrender”, the second piece is shorter and a real slow free improv piece introduced by Mota’s guitar, and again the guitar’s short bursts and sprinkles of notes are in a constant countersound to Amado’s long and sustained wails, full of tradition and bluesy inflections.

The album ends in beauty, with a track called “To The Music”, again starting with sounds that grow organically out of silent first moves and gentle countermoves and subtle pushes forward, until the total sound emerges with solid foundations and volume, offering Amado the chance to shine, to soar, to sing his lyrical jazzy phrases full of agony and excitement propulsed forward by the rhythm sections and chased by the mad guitar of Manuel Mota, like a clash of two traditions merging into one coherent fist of music.

http://www.freejazzblog.org/2014/06/rodrigo-amado-wire-quartet-clean-feed.html

Point of Departure review by Troy Collins

CF 289Matt Bauder and Day in Pictures – Nightshades (CF 289)
Nightshades is the most accessible offering to date in Brooklyn-based tenor saxophonist Matt Bauder’s burgeoning discography. Brimming with nostalgic melodies, rich harmonies and elastic rhythms, the highly appealing session shares more than a passing resemblance to classic records issued by Blue Note in the 1960s, recalling a time when jazz still reigned as the popular music of the day.

Following in the footsteps of the group’s 2010 self-titled Clean Feed debut, Bauder’s Day in Pictures continues to explore intricate structural nuances of the post-bop continuum, hemming ever closer to conventional forms. Enjoying the support of a fairly stable lineup, Bauder is once again joined by trumpeter Nate Wooley, bassist Jason Ajemian and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, while pianist Kris Davis takes the place of Angelica Sanchez. Davis’ appearance is noteworthy; where Sanchez brought a penchant for expansive contrapuntal harmony to the group, Davis takes a more focused, linear approach, offering a profusion of melodic invention in her brisk, chromatic delivery.

Davis’ quicksilver pianism meshes well with Ajemian’s supple bass lines and Fujiwara’s spirited kit-work; their skillful interplay yields a modulating undercurrent of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic activity that inspires daring excursions from the versatile frontline. As one of the key young masters of new trumpet technique, Wooley makes a fitting foil for the leader, underscoring Bauder’s sinuous refrains with coruscating asides tempered by an increasingly sophisticated lyricism. Bauder reveals a diverse array of expressionism, whether waxing romantic on the lush ballad “Starr Wykoff,” swinging with full-throated verve through the second line-infused title track, or plying nervy multiphonics on more assertive fare like “Rule of Thirds.”

Although the material on Nightshades is stylistically similar to the quintet’s previous effort, each tune investigates slightly different territory, ranging from the slinky deconstructed bossa nova groove of “Octavia Minor” to the collective New Thing-inspired rapture of “August and Counting.” The duration of each piece hovers around the ten minute mark, allowing individual members time to extrapolate on Bauder’s melody-rich themes.

In direct contrast to some of his more experimental projects, like Memorize The Sky, the material performed by Day in Pictures highlights Bauder’s most conventionally jazz-oriented writing. The end result is a historically aware exploration of the tenuous divide between freedom and form – a bold, but beautiful album.

http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD47/PoD47MoreMoments2.html

Point of Departure review by Brian Morton

CF 297Rodrigo Amado – Wire Quartet (CF 297)
Rodrigo Amado’s music is a letdown. Which is not to say that it is a disappointment. Quite the reverse. This is his most thrillingly realized and coherent recording to date. But the music’s determining trajectory is always downwards and deeper. Patterns of four, five, six descending tones in the opening sequence evoke nothing less than being slowly ratcheted down a mine-shaft, observing strata, minerals crystallizing, feeling the internal pressure build and the air thicken. When most of our laudatory paradigms for music involve elevation, ascension, transcendence, Amado takes us toward the core. Or maybe off shore, and then a deep dive. That opening piece is a veritable descent into the maelstrom. A quiet introduction on tenor and guitar (the highly impressive Manuel Mota) suggests a backstage encounter between Sonny Rollins and Jim Hall. It’s thoughtful, pleasingly discursive, but soon gives way to a fierier group attack which might unwarily be mistaken for by-the-yard Fire Music if it weren’t for the highly disciplined way Amado organizes the group round those bunched saxophone tones and terse phrasing.

Then when one is almost ready to shout despairingly with Poe’s narrator and prepare for a last plunge into the whirlpool, it pulls up quietly on damped cymbal tones (Gabriel Ferrandini) that gradually evolve a fascinating dialogue between drums and bass (Hernani Faustino). The group’s center of gravity shifts, but in such a way as to reveal its essential democracy. The set’s divided, in whatever sense it’s divided at all, into three sections – “Abandon Yourself,” “Surrender,” and “To The Music” – but the mood and concentration are sustained from first to last, and the titles merely confirm the feeling that by replugging a few expectations of what happens in improvised music, not least its repetition allergy and need to move ever on-and-up, we’re being taken further into a rich seam of exploration.

The Scottish-born poet Kenneth White (who has spent most of his working life away from Scotland) is a pioneer of what he calls geopoetics and of a hidden, transnational arc of creative activity that extends from the Nordic countries to Portugal and into North Africa and the Mediterranean, with mirrored activity on the Eastern seaboard of North Africa. He calls it “Atlantic” culture, and it’s a surprising latecomer to intellectual discourse given how powerful political Atlanticism has been in Europe since the war. Rodrigo Amado is the perfect “Atlantic” artist. His music looks West, to the great saxophone players of modern jazz, but also back to Atlantic crossers like Don Byas (who else shaped a boppish phrase like that?) and there’s even a hint of Dexter Gordon in the way Amado worries at a phrase, musing over it mid-conversation, wondering if he’s saying the right thing, offering an alternative.

It’s a most surprising record, this. Its antecedents – its genre, almost – seem familiar to the point of predictability, and yet nothing about it conforms easily to what we know and expect about such groups. The guitar and bass playing are revelatory. Mota plays in a no-style that seems to bundle up Derek Bailey, Sonny Sharrock and Arto Lindsay in a single phrase. Faustino should be renamed “the Lisbon earthquake,” if he isn’t already, and Ferrandini is one of the most musical drummers I’ve heard in years. Amado himself is a proven quantity, an artist of real and still growing stature. He’s been away on his own European Echoes imprint for a while. This feels like a kind of homecoming.

http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD47/PoD47MoreMoments2.html

Publico review by Gonçalo Frota

Rodrigo Amado abriu a porta ao mais fascinante improvisador vivo. Uma prova de força do saxofonista português — totalmente ganha.

Rodrigo Amado precisava deste gesto de risco. Num claro movimento ascensional desde que encontrou em Miguel Mira e Gabriel Ferrandini a base para o Motion Trio, tem vindo a galgar sucessivos limites para a sua música, em parte através dos músicos convidados que tem trazido para a sua orla — Jeb Bishop no excelente Flame Alphabet, Kent Kessler e Paal Nilssen-Love na dose dupla Teatro e The Abstract Truth. Mas abrir a porta a Peter Evans era provavelmente a ambição mais desmedida que Amado podia anunciar. Evans será hoje o músico mais fascinante, imprevisível e versátil no contexto da música improvisada terráquea. E abrir-lhe a porta é convidar o génio, mas também saber que o som daquela trompete pode eclipsar todos os instrumentos ao seu redor.

Essa prova de força de Rodrigo Amado e respectivo trio é ganha em ambos os registos com Evans. Em perspectivas totalmente diferentes. No LP Live in Lisbon, registado no concerto do Teatro Maria Matos em Março de 2013, o tom é muitas vezes de perseguição, como se Peter Evans arrancasse desde logo em sprint e fosse espalhando um caos inclemente, ficando os três músicos portugueses obrigados a não o perderem de vista e a evitar os detritos que o norte-americano vai deixando pelo caminho. É um registo de tensão permanente, abrasivo, mais facilmente codificado numa linguagem de improvisação construída a partir dos alicerces (escaqueirados) do bop.

The Freedom Principle, gravado em estúdio passados dois dias, é um CD de estudo mútuo. Evans, como peça volante, deixa de chamar a si um papel de destabilização óbvia, procurando antes o espaço entre os restantes instrumentos, gerando uma dinâmica completamente nova, mais avançada e funda do que acontecera com os anteriores convidados do Motion Trio. O tema título, aliás, presta-se a uma imagem clara: Evans passa largos minutos num voo de insecto (é a isso que soa, não é metáfora rebuscada) por entre Amado, Mira e Ferrandini, como que olhando a música de cima, intervindo de uma forma cirúrgica — totalmente contrária à prodigiosa falta de subtileza que emprestara ao concerto do Maria Matos. Em ambos os casos, nestes dois discos de notável encontro, a acção de Evans não é indiferente ao Motion e vice-versa, e os arrazoados diálogos entre trompete e saxofone são, frequentemente, algo que apenas confirma Rodrigo Amado como um dos músicos mais inventivos da música improvisada mundial — deixemo-nos de escalas locais.

CF 297A prova, de resto, está bem patente em Wire Quartet — Amado, Ferrandini, Hernâni Faustino e Manuel Mota. Saxofone, bateria, contrabaixo e guitarra eléctrica, portanto. O nível não anda muito longe da parelha de discos do Motion com Evans, sobretudo quando o quarteto não cede à tentação de dinamitar a música e levanta o jogo colectivo em crescendos que não desembocam na saída fácil da chinfrineira desregrada, percebendo sempre onde está a armadilha da vulgaridade. Para esse desfecho é essencial um Manuel Mota que está longe do onanismo habitual nas incursões das guitarras nestes cenários, contribuindo para a música e não imaginando que tem por trás uma banda-papel de cenário. O vai-vém constante de Abandon yourself, o longo tema de abertura, em subidas e descidas sucessivas, junta-se às melhores coisas que Rodrigo Amado gravou até hoje. Algo que, como já se terá percebido, não é coisa pouca.
http://ipsilon.publico.pt/musica/critica.aspx?id=335386

Point of Departure review by Troy Collins

CF 289Matt Bauder and Day in Pictures – Nightshades (CF 289)
Nightshades is the most accessible offering to date in Brooklyn-based tenor saxophonist Matt Bauder’s burgeoning discography. Brimming with nostalgic melodies, rich harmonies and elastic rhythms, the highly appealing session shares more than a passing resemblance to classic records issued by Blue Note in the 1960s, recalling a time when jazz still reigned as the popular music of the day.

Following in the footsteps of the group’s 2010 self-titled Clean Feed debut, Bauder’s Day in Pictures continues to explore intricate structural nuances of the post-bop continuum, hemming ever closer to conventional forms. Enjoying the support of a fairly stable lineup, Bauder is once again joined by trumpeter Nate Wooley, bassist Jason Ajemian and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, while pianist Kris Davis takes the place of Angelica Sanchez. Davis’ appearance is noteworthy; where Sanchez brought a penchant for expansive contrapuntal harmony to the group, Davis takes a more focused, linear approach, offering a profusion of melodic invention in her brisk, chromatic delivery.

Davis’ quicksilver pianism meshes well with Ajemian’s supple bass lines and Fujiwara’s spirited kit-work; their skillful interplay yields a modulating undercurrent of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic activity that inspires daring excursions from the versatile frontline. As one of the key young masters of new trumpet technique, Wooley makes a fitting foil for the leader, underscoring Bauder’s sinuous refrains with coruscating asides tempered by an increasingly sophisticated lyricism. Bauder reveals a diverse array of expressionism, whether waxing romantic on the lush ballad “Starr Wykoff,” swinging with full-throated verve through the second line-infused title track, or plying nervy multiphonics on more assertive fare like “Rule of Thirds.”

Although the material on Nightshades is stylistically similar to the quintet’s previous effort, each tune investigates slightly different territory, ranging from the slinky deconstructed bossa nova groove of “Octavia Minor” to the collective New Thing-inspired rapture of “August and Counting.” The duration of each piece hovers around the ten minute mark, allowing individual members time to extrapolate on Bauder’s melody-rich themes.

In direct contrast to some of his more experimental projects, like Memorize The Sky, the material performed by Day in Pictures highlights Bauder’s most conventionally jazz-oriented writing. The end result is a historically aware exploration of the tenuous divide between freedom and form – a bold, but beautiful album.
http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD47/PoD47MoreMoments2.html

Point of Departure review by Brian Morton

CF 297Rodrigo Amado – Wire Quartet (CF 297)
Rodrigo Amado’s music is a letdown. Which is not to say that it is a disappointment. Quite the reverse. This is his most thrillingly realized and coherent recording to date. But the music’s determining trajectory is always downwards and deeper. Patterns of four, five, six descending tones in the opening sequence evoke nothing less than being slowly ratcheted down a mine-shaft, observing strata, minerals crystallizing, feeling the internal pressure build and the air thicken. When most of our laudatory paradigms for music involve elevation, ascension, transcendence, Amado takes us toward the core. Or maybe off shore, and then a deep dive. That opening piece is a veritable descent into the maelstrom. A quiet introduction on tenor and guitar (the highly impressive Manuel Mota) suggests a backstage encounter between Sonny Rollins and Jim Hall. It’s thoughtful, pleasingly discursive, but soon gives way to a fierier group attack which might unwarily be mistaken for by-the-yard Fire Music if it weren’t for the highly disciplined way Amado organizes the group round those bunched saxophone tones and terse phrasing.

Then when one is almost ready to shout despairingly with Poe’s narrator and prepare for a last plunge into the whirlpool, it pulls up quietly on damped cymbal tones (Gabriel Ferrandini) that gradually evolve a fascinating dialogue between drums and bass (Hernani Faustino). The group’s center of gravity shifts, but in such a way as to reveal its essential democracy. The set’s divided, in whatever sense it’s divided at all, into three sections – “Abandon Yourself,” “Surrender,” and “To The Music” – but the mood and concentration are sustained from first to last, and the titles merely confirm the feeling that by replugging a few expectations of what happens in improvised music, not least its repetition allergy and need to move ever on-and-up, we’re being taken further into a rich seam of exploration.

The Scottish-born poet Kenneth White (who has spent most of his working life away from Scotland) is a pioneer of what he calls geopoetics and of a hidden, transnational arc of creative activity that extends from the Nordic countries to Portugal and into North Africa and the Mediterranean, with mirrored activity on the Eastern seaboard of North Africa. He calls it “Atlantic” culture, and it’s a surprising latecomer to intellectual discourse given how powerful political Atlanticism has been in Europe since the war. Rodrigo Amado is the perfect “Atlantic” artist. His music looks West, to the great saxophone players of modern jazz, but also back to Atlantic crossers like Don Byas (who else shaped a boppish phrase like that?) and there’s even a hint of Dexter Gordon in the way Amado worries at a phrase, musing over it mid-conversation, wondering if he’s saying the right thing, offering an alternative.

It’s a most surprising record, this. Its antecedents – its genre, almost – seem familiar to the point of predictability, and yet nothing about it conforms easily to what we know and expect about such groups. The guitar and bass playing are revelatory. Mota plays in a no-style that seems to bundle up Derek Bailey, Sonny Sharrock and Arto Lindsay in a single phrase. Faustino should be renamed “the Lisbon earthquake,” if he isn’t already, and Ferrandini is one of the most musical drummers I’ve heard in years. Amado himself is a proven quantity, an artist of real and still growing stature. He’s been away on his own European Echoes imprint for a while. This feels like a kind of homecoming.
http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD47/PoD47MoreMoments2.html