Tag Archives: James Zollar

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet – Frog Leg Logic (CF 242)
En estos tiempos de crisis, en que lo que lo único que no está en recesión es el uso de las tijeras en temas como la educación, discos como Frog Leg Logic dan sentido a la utilidad de las becas o ayudas académicas. En el caso de Marty Ehrlich, una beca del Hampshire College en Amherst sirvió en parte para reunir a cuatro músicos que no son precisamente nuevos en esto del jazz (Ehrlich, el baterista Michael Sarin, el chelista Hank Roberts y el trompetista -el más joven de todos ellos- James Zollar) y que pudiesen plasmar en CD las composiciones del saxofonista. El disco está lleno de buenas melodías, buenos arreglos, buenos solos, y con la versatilidad (e incluso las sorpresas) en todos esos ámbitos que hacen que un disco pase de ser bueno a excelente.
http://bun.tomajazz.com/2012/02/marty-ehrlichs-rites-quartet-frog-leg.html

Music and More review by Tim Niland

Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet – Frog Leg Logic (CF 242)
In their description of this album, Clean Feed draws the comparison between this group anchored by saxophonist Marty Ehrlich and cellist Hank Roberts to the great loft jazz music made between saxophonist Julius Hemphill and cellist Abdul Wadud during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The distinction is apt, and joining Ehrlich and Roberts on this date are James Zollar on trumpet and Michael Sarin on drums. While they aren’t quite as gritty as the likes of Hemphill’s recently re-released classic Dogon A.D., the group achieves a fine progressive jazz sound with Ehrlich and Zollar swirling and probing each other’s phrases, recalling records by Eric Dolphy and Booker Little or Chris Potter and Dave Douglas. “You Can Beat The Slanted Cards” and “Frog Leg Logic” make their case quite nicely with angular momentum moving with geometrical precision as the musicians improvise on the unusual themes. “Ballade” and “Solace” slow down the pace to an atmospheric and patient flow, Roberts and Sarin are particularly important in these performances as they are able to use subtle and gradual shifts in time and space to lay evolving textural shapes for the hornmen to react to, developing collective improvisations where everyone is interacting in real time. This is very solid and enjoyable modern jazz, steeped in the music that preceded them, but at same time making music that has a thoroughly modern sensibility.
http://jazzandblues.blogspot.com/

All About Jazz review by Troy Collins

Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet – Frog Leg Logic (CF 242)
The premier of Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet, Things Have Got To Change (Clean Feed, 2009), featured the venerable multi-instrumentalist’s engaging originals bolstered by a handful of previously unrecorded pieces by his mentor, the late Julius Hemphill (1938-1995). Drawing on Hemphill’s seminal work in the St Louis-based Black Artists’ Group (BAG), and his innovative writing for the World Saxophone Quartet, Ehrlich has proven to be one of the legendary saxophonist’s most ardent devotees, leading Hemphill’s self-titled saxophone sextet after his passing.

Named after a phrase culled from a poem by James Marshal—founder of the St. Louis-based Human Arts Ensemble (with whom Ehrlich made his recording debut in 1973)—Frog Leg Logic continues to expand upon Hemphill’s storied legacy, while offering pertinent examples of the leader’s own brand of robust lyricism. The personnel of Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet has changed since its first album; Ehrlich and trumpeter James Zollar are joined by veteran cellist Hank Roberts and drummer Michael Sarin, in place of Erik Friedlander and Pheeroan AkLaff, respectively. Ehrlich’s commitment to this unconventional instrumental lineup is no coincidence. The Quartet not only mirrors the instrumentation featured on Hemphill’s 1972 masterpiece, Dogon A.D. (Mbari), but takes its name from the record’s thorny second tune (“Rites”). Ehrlich works subtle variations from this unique formula, conceiving brilliantly contrasting textures between muted brass, diaphanous reeds, sinewy strings and scintillating percussion that transcend obsequious imitation.

Bristling with energy, the session opens with the title track and closes with “The Gravedigger’s Respite,” bracing, hard bop-inflected swingers that highlight the quartet’s adroit, muscular interplay—an aspect further emphasized in the circuitous melody of “You Can Beat the Slanted Cards,” which exudes a similarly jubilant swing, hemmed by Roberts’ elastic pizzicato and Sarin’s taut, in-the-pocket grooves. Despite the ebullience of these rousing numbers, the majority of the date largely eschews the funky ardor of the Quartet’s debut, reveling instead in a state of bluesy introspection. “Solace” transposes impulsive energy into a sophisticated, chamber-like atmosphere, dominated by Ehrlich’s pastoral flute and Zollar’s muted horn.

“Walk Along the Way” and “My Song” weave balladic understatement into expressionistic tone poems, showcasing the group’s ability to sustain a mood, which is revealed in the set’s conceptual centerpiece, “Ballade.” Unfolding episodically, the blues-tinged lament vacillates through time and tempo shifts with cagey precision, modulating from smoldering testimonial fervor to brisk post-bop angularity, recalling the iconic title cut of Dogon A.D. in sound and spirit. Throughout the soulful meditation, Ehrlich’s plangent cadences and Zollar’s expressive, plunger-muted vocalizations find earthy concordance in Roberts’ percolating fretwork and Sarin’s unassuming accents.

Released just after International Phonograph Inc.’s acclaimed reissue of Dogon A.D., Frog Leg Logic presents a forward-thinking but reverential variation on an established model, one that not only proves the resilience of Hemphill’s visionary concepts, but Ehrlich’s merit as a singular composer and improviser of note.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=41174

Radioville airplay and review by Lloyd Sachs

Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet – Frog Leg Logic (CF 242)
In this week’s two-minute album review on WDCB, I enthuse over the second album by Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet.

For the hearing impaired, radio-resistant, iPad-addicted, sound-proofed, ear-resting and earwax-removing, here’s the text of the review: Hi, I’m Lloyd Sachs with a two-minute album review. Has any great musician ever had a better executor to carry out his artistic will and testament than the late Julius Hemphill has in Marty Ehrlich? After acting as music director of the sextet Hemphill formed after leaving the World Saxophone Quartet, Ehrlich kept the band going following Hemphill’s death in 1995. He has continued to honor his mentor’s legacy with the Rites Quartet, which just released its second album, Frog Leg Logic, on Lisbon’s excellent Clean Feed label.   Named after a tune on Hemphill’s recently reissued 1972 masterwork “Dogon A.D.,” the Rites Quartet uses the same distinctive format as that album, with Ehrlich on saxophone or flute, longtime crony James Zollar on trumpet, Hank Roberts on cello and Michael Sarin on drums. Having covered Hemphill tunes including the title cut of “Dogon A.D.” on its terrific 2009 album, Things Have Got to Change, the band goes with all original material on the new one. But Hemphill’s presence still looms large, in the lustrous harmonies, hard grooves and bountiful spirit of the music.   Actually, Frog Leg Logic is a bit less funk-driven than its predecessor, which featured Erik Friedlander and Pheeroan akLaff on cello and drums. After opening in rousing fashion with orchestral effects and charged solos, the album settles into a reflective, inner-driven mode. But fueled by Roberts’ big, bruising notes on cello, Zollar’s potent warbles and plunger-muted cries and Ehrlich’s sharply melodic attack on alto, a band like this can’t stay down long.   The album is another high point in Ehrlich’s career, which has had many of them, in settings ranging from his Dark Woods Ensemble to duos with pianists Muhal Richard Abrams and Myra Melford. As a companion piece to the Hemphill reissue and on its own, it’s exhilarating stuff. With a two-minute review of Frog Leg Logic by Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet, I’m Lloyd Sachs.
http://jazzespress.com/2011/12/22/radioville-marty-ehrlichs-rites-quartet-frog-leg-logic-clean-feed/

Stash Dauber reviews

Some good jazz records, mostly on Clean Feed
I said I wasn’t going to write a lot this month, but then in the middle of a John Fahey binge (Georgia Stomps, Atlanta Struts and Other Contemporary Dance Favorites and Womblife), an envelope arrived from Lisbon bearing the latest from Clean Feed, the Portuguese label that’s established itself as the Blue Note of the ‘teens, including a couple that I just had to hear right away.

Live in L.A. (CF 241) documents a performance from a trio consisting of trumpeter Bobby Bradford, bassist Mark Dresser, and trombonist Glenn Ferris. Bradford’s a Mississippi-born, Texas-bred Californian and familiar of Fort Worth eminences Ornette Coleman (he’s all over Science Fiction) and John Carter who’s led his own Mo’tet since the early ’90s. Dresser’s worked with Anthony Braxton, among others, while Ferris is an Angeleno who’s lived and taught in France since the ’80s. Together they play a cerebral brand of chamber jazz, with Bradford — heard here on cornet — and Ferris intertwining contrapuntal lines and Dresser moving seamlessly between arco and pizzicato attacks. On “Bamboo Shoots,” all three instruments play vocally-inflected lines, to which one of the musicians adds a sung response. An intimately alive and organic set.

So Soft Yet (CF 243) is the latest encounter between redoubtable Dallas trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez and Portuguese pianist Joao Paulo Esteves da Silva, with whom he shared a previous Clean Feed release, 2009’s Scapegrace. On this 2010 reunion, Gonzalez employs the electronics (mainly an octave splitter) that he eschewed on their first meeting, and Joao Paulo divides his time between acoustic and electric pianos and accordion. On the electric instrument, he sometimes plays percussive and modal figures that give the music the feel of a two-man Bitches Brew. His accordion gives the sound a lyrical lilt. On “El Destierro,” both men play unusually sparsely, using silence and space to heighten the impact of the notes that are played. Impressive artistry, beautifully registered.

Frog Leg Logic (CF 242) is the latest outing from reedman Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet. The ebullient title track explodes out of the gate, showcasing the group’s orchestral heft — impressive for such a small unit — and improvisational aplomb. Cellist Hank Roberts can function as a timekeeper or a third melodic voice, as needed. “Ballade” is a lovely lament that breaks down into a blues following the initial thematic statement. Trumpeter James Zollar plays a solo that shifts seamlessly between muted growls and post-bop angularity. When the theme returns in a wash of lyrical beauty, it gives the track a nicely complete feel. “You Can Beat the Slanted Cards” features a seductively circuitous melody, with nicely spare trap-kicking from drummer Michael Sarin. Ehrlich’s an ace improviser on alto, soprano, and flute, but his true strength is as a composer and bandleader.

In that regard, he’s a direct descendent of his mentor, Fort Worth native Julius Hemphill, who made his initial impact in St. Louis in the early ’70s before heading to New York to found and lead the World Saxophone Quartet, as well as his own sextet and big band. Hemphill’s masterwork, Dogon A.D. — which he originally self-released in 1972 and Arista Freedom subsequently reissued in 1977 — made its first appearance on CD this year via International Phonograph, Inc., in a beautifully-packaged edition (heavy cardboard gatefold sleeve) that includes all four tracks from the original session (“The Hard Blues” wouldn’t fit on the original LP and so had to wait for 1975’s Coon Bid’ness to see the light of day). There are many elements and aspects of Dogon A.D. — the complex themes, Abdul Wadud’s cello, drummer Philip Wilson’s minimalist backbeat — that are echoed on Frog Leg Logic, but that’s no slight to Ehrlich. The Hemphill album’s influence on the last 30 years of creative jazz has been as inescapable as, say, Out To Lunch’s, making its reappearance the most welcome jazz reissue of 2011.
http://stashdauber.blogspot.com/2011/12/some-good-jazz-records-mostly-on-clean.html

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

MARTY EHRLICH RITES QUARTET – Things Have Got To Change (CF 150)
Alto saxophonist Ehrlich and two of his Rites companions – drummer Pheeroan AkLaff and cellist Erik Friedlander – have been playing together, on and off, for decades. The fourth member, trumpeter James Zollar, is a more recent collaborator of the leader, but the way in which their voices mix is equally inspiring, each instrument straggling along distinctive melodic designs and yet so cohesively intertwined with the other (“Song For Tomorrow” being a particularly illuminating example). Recorded in a single October day in 2008, this record confirms the axiom according to which once the soul and the technical preparation are there, the music is going to flow with ease, and will probably be heartwarming. However, there’s nothing really “trouble-free” to be found in Things Have Got To Change, whose structure is shaped by three Julius Hemphill composition added to Ehrlich’s five. The group’s instrumental handwriting can be read as a now elegant, now animated attempt to defy constrictions without forgetting the general framework, the contrapuntal nature ranging from sheer dissonant integrity on a swinging foundation (“Dung”, “Slices Of Light”) to rarefied openings followed by duets between separated constituents – see the drum/sax conversation occurring halfway through the gorgeous “Some Kind Of Player”. The right energy is properly channeled, the interplay perennially lucid – no hints to gratuitously irksome complicatedness or decrepit formulas. Unselfish articulacy, dictated by the joy of finding something important and telling it straight to the audience’s face, no stylish evasiveness or secret codes. One feels like committing a sin by merely defining this stuff as “jazz”.
http://touchingextremes.wordpress.com/

Jazz Blog reviews by Peter Hum

Labels we love VI: Clean Feed

A while back, my fellow jazz journalist *** musician *** dayjobber Bernard Stepien professed to me that he was much better schooled in the avant-garde music of the 1960s and 1970s, and much less conversant with today’s shape of jazz to come. My response to him was: “You should check out what’s on Clean Feed.”

That’s the name of a prolific, nine-year-old Lisbon-based record company, recognized as a leading label by the post-free jazz connoisseurs. According to the Clean Feed website, its 150 recordings are “innovative contemporary jazz projects that can make a difference, building a catalogue that will be internationally recognized by its quality and coherence.” Today, I’ll consider three recent Clean Feed discs, which are admittedly a very small sample to take the measure of the label. 

In addition to recordings by many lesser known but accomplished North American and European players, Clean Feed has released several discs by some of the avant-jazz scene’s established players. Among them is Things Have Got to Change, from reedman and composer Marty Ehlrich. He’s a multi-instrumentalist in his mid-50s who writes for and performs in a variety of instrumentations, and his collaborations with such Association for the Advance of Creative Musicians (AACM) stalwarts as  Muhal Richard Abrams, Leo Smith and Leroy Jenkins go back to the late 1970s. Ehrlich’s Clean Feed disc finds him limiting himself to playing alto saxophone and leading his Rites Quartet, which includes trumpeter James Zollar, cellist Erik Friedlander and drummer Pheeroan Aklaff, all established and admired players in the segment of the jazz community where playing on changes and grooving hard meld with departures from harmonic constraints and other colourful flourishes. Things Have Got to Change consists of five Ehrlich compositions and three by his avant-jazz elder, the saxophonist Julius Hemphill. Throughout, the music is filled with simpatico and vivid expression, as the moods change from tranquil to jagged to urgent to funky — it often feels celebratory.

The disc’s first two tracks are engaging, medium-tempo free-boppers — Rite Rhythms is driven by Friedlander’s groovy ostinato and Aklaff’s minimalist percussion, while Dung, an unrecorded Hemphill composition,  swings as Friedlander plucks quarter notes. Ehrlich and Zollar are both riveting players, alternating liquid lines and piercing cries. Some Kind of Prayer is naturally more sombre, with Zollar’s horn muted and Friedlander picking up his bow for Ehrlich’s hymnal theme. After On the One’s austere bowed cello introduction, Ehrlich and Friedlander state the song’s theme and spin bracing, intertwined melodies. Hemphill’s Dogon A.D. blends odd meter and dissonance with gutsy blues and funk.

I’m very much enjoying the hard-rocking, imaginative and evocative disc Voladores  from Tony Malaby’s Apparitions. Malaby’s a saxophonist in his mid-40s whose combination of brawn, tenderness and unfettered creativity has landed him gigs with John Hollenbeck’s Large Ensemble, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band and other impeccablly inside-and-outside-the-box groups. Malaby’s group Apparitions includes three extremely versatile musicians — bassist Drew Gress, drummer Tom Rainey and drummer John Hollenbeck, who plays not just drums but also marimba, glockenspiel, xylophone and vibraphone, melodica — a whooshy mood-maker in his hands — and even “small kitchen appliances.” As you would expect, the music is always richly textured.

Malaby’s disc is continually delightful, with a masterful mix of direct playing and structural surprises, primal melodies and deep, yet intriguing grooves. The musicians are extraordinarily connected — the evocative music feels less like a parade of solos and more like a succession of group passages, even as Malaby and company tinker with our expectations in terms of how the songs evolve (The standard arcs for a song’s flow of intensity don’t apply on Voladores — and that’s a good thing.) Sour Diesel, Old Smokey and Los Voladores  in particular pack an appealing blend of earthy rhythms and mystery and ought to woo discriminating alt-music listeners. I especially like the programmatic pleasures of Dreamy Drunk, with its slow, baleful beginning giving way to an echo-enhanced stretch of drum-n-bass, which in turn yields to a surprising, rocking conclusion.

Equally brash and mysterious  — despite its title — is Canada Day, from drummer Harris Eisenstadt, a New York-based Canadian expat. Eisenstadt’s joined by trumpeter Nate Wooley, tenor saxophonist Matt Bauder, vibraphonist Chris Dingman on vibraphone and bassist Eivind Opsvik for a set of originals. While these players may be lesser known, they’re do-it-all musicians to a man, balancing sophisticated harmonic playing with more timbrally motivated sounds to create some mighty expansive music. Given this lineup of instruments and how the musicians choose to play them, it’s hard not to think of such mid-1960s inside/out classics as Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch and Jackie McLean’s Destination Out as big-time influences. However Eisenstadt’s music has a contemporary cast too, especially on the fractured funk of After an Outdoor Bath. That track features some especially expressive, hyper-vocal tenor work from Bauder that to me brings to mind both Wayne Shorter and Sam Rivers. Not to be out done, Wooley incorporates sputtering, wheezing and screeching into his solo, to fine effect. Kategeeper is a jumpy, angular, broken funk groover that keeps tensions high. More tranquil and spacious, although nonetheless foreboding, is Eisenstadt’s Halifax. 

That’s a live version of Sentinel, a slow and heavy Masson composition that appears on his quartet’s CD Thirty Six Ghosts. Joining Masson are Colin Vallon playing electric piano, acoustic bassist Patrick Moret and drummer Lionel Friedli for a set of tunes that pull ever so naturally from free jazz, rock, pop to create a wonderfully disorienting blend. Like the North American musicians mentioned above, Masson and his countrymen are intrepid sonic explorers. The disc’s opener, Sirius, supplies emotional complexity from the get-go, with Masson spins melancholy and increasingly urgent lines over floating electric piano chords, burbling bass and clattering drums and cymbals. Le Phasme  is a slow, spare, altered-state song with a patient, shimmering solo by Vallon setting up a cresting turn by Masson. Hellboy is dense, messy, funky and chunky, with Vallon uncorking long lines and distorting his machine’s sound before Masson joins him for the angular theme. Bermuda is all about mixed-meter mysteries, with just a hint of blues, thrown in. Closing the disc is Yurel a plaintive rock ballad — its directness and unabashed lyricism leaven one’s listening after the darker preceding tracks.

Finally, I’ll mention Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns, from the Will Holshouser Trio, joined by the Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sassetti. Holhouser’s a New York accordionist, who has been working with trio-mates David Phillips on bass and trumpeter Ron Horton for a dozen years. Their collaboration with Sassetti is the most tuneful of the Clean Feed discs I’m considering today, riddled as it is with strains of folk and classical chamber music. But there’s edginess and lots of improvisatory gusto as well, not to mention plenty of timbral awareness. I like the stately tinge of Danca Palaciana and playfulness of Dance of the Dead. Department of Peace is an understated but moving ballad filled with clear, rich harmonies and Horton’s affecting, pure horn — a song in search of a foreign movie.

In a bit of cross-platform collaboration, I’ve handed these discs, as well as others by Clean Feed, to Stepien, who will be playing selected tracks on Rabble Without A Cause, his CKCU radio program, tonight (Jan. 13) at 11 p.m. Click here to catch the show on the Interweb.
http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/jazzblog/default.aspx

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet – Things Have Got to Change (CF 150)

A New One From Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet
I’ve come to expect very good things from Marty Ehrlich. He takes care formulating the approach each of his ensembles puts across, and they stand out for composition, interplay and individual soloists. His Rites Quartet is an excellent example. The recent Things Have Got to Change (Clean Feed) CD bears this out.

Marty sets this group up partly to pay tribute to the memory of Julius Hemphill and his wonderful music. Around half the pieces on the disk are by Julius, including a very nice rendition of “Dogon AD;” the other half are Ehrlich originals.

Erik Friedlander here plays cello somewhat in the manner of Abdul Wadud, Hemphill’s bandmate of note. Erik’s funky pizzicato has lots of soul, clearly giving himself over to the Wadud’s way of musical thinking. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Eric sound quite this rootsy. Of course he is untouchable as a flowingly moving arco player and that side shows up on this disk as well. He adds much to the session. Pheeroan Aklaff drives the group in his irrepressibly vigorous manner. Trumpet man James Zollar has imagination and pluck and works well in the front line as a contrasting voice to the always interesting Ehrlich on alto.

Things Have Got to Change falls together as vitally communicative music from the first cut to the last. Highly recommended.
http://gapplegatemusicreview.blogspot.com/

Downbeat review by Peter Margasak

Time Out Lisbon reviews by José Carlos Fernandes

O Milagre da Rua do Alecrim
Crise? Na Clean Feed não se sabe o que quer dizer esta palavra: os discos sucedem-se e o leque de artistas e correntes estéticas não pára de se alargar

“A mais prolífica e ousada editora de jazz deste novo século”. É assim que o prestigiado site All About Jazz se refere à Clean Feed, que já tinha distinguido como uma das melhores editoras de jazz de 2007. Os encómios – mais saborosos por virem da América – justificam-se, pois o catálogo da editora da Rua do Alecrim já ronda os 170 discos e acaba de ser ampliado com uma mão-cheia de novos títulos.

Apesar do seu talento e reputação e de se rodear invariavelmente de músicos de elite, o saxofonista norte-americano Marty Ehrlich possui uma discografia imprevisível, que oscila entre o inspirado (Just Before the Dawn ou Malinke’s Dance) e o corriqueiro. Things Have Got To Change (****), que marca a estreia deste grande jazzman na Clean Feed, pertence ao primeiro grupo. Este seu Rites Quartet (gravado em Lisboa, de regresso de um concerto em Ponta Delgada) dificilmente poderia falhar, pois conta com James Zollar na trompete, Erik Friedlander no violoncelo e Pheeroan akLaff na bateria. Friedlander é o mais surpreendente (para quem não o conheça de outras andanças), impelindo o grupo num pizzicato elástico ou extraindo lamentos pungentes com o arco. akLaff tem a arte de conciliar potência e subtileza, gerando propulsão e swing sem obscurecer os volteios do violoncelo. Além das composições do líder, há três peças de Julius Hemphill – e não creio que alguém resista a ser hipnotizado pela que fecha o disco, a mítica “Dogon AD”.

Qualquer grupo que tenha como baterista Tom Rainey ou John Hollenbeck pode considerar-se afortunado. Ter Rainey e Hollenbeck é ganhar o Euromilhões. É isso que acontece em Voladores, do saxofonista Tony Malaby (****). Malaby, que já marcara presença na Clean Feed com Tamarindo (2007), surge agora o seu quarteto Apparitions, com o contrabaixo seguríssimo de Drew Gress e os dois super-bateristas já mencionados. Hollenbeck, que toma o lugar que no disco de estreia foi de Michael Sarin, não se limita à bateria, dispersando-se por marimba, vibrafone, xilofone, glockenspiel, melódica e utensílios de cozinha. Não se espere desta dupla o estardalhaço abrutalhado e testosterónico que, no jazz-rock, costuma estar associado a baterias dobradas – em vez disso há difusas e intrigantes nuvens percussivas que, com o avançar dos temas, se acastelam e podem gerar tornados furiosos.
Os “Voladores” do título são aqueles mexicanos que giram, de cabeça para baixo e muitos metros acima do solo, suspensos por cordas de um mastro, evocando rituais pré-colombianos de celebração da Terra e das estações. Este Voladores permite a experiência inebriante de girar pelo céu pendurado pelos pés, sem abandonar o conforto do sofá.

O quarteto Parallels do saxofonista Nicolas Masson é inteiramente suíço, mas desmente frontalmente a boutade que apresenta o relógio de cuco como único contributo helvético para a civilização. Em vez de aprazíveis paisagens alpinas, Thirty Six Ghosts (*****) oferece poderosos grooves urbanos, com raízes rock e funk e afinidades com o M-Base, alimentados por Patrice Moret (contrabaixo) e Lionel Friedli (bateria). Pese embora o mérito de todos os intervenientes, quem “rouba o espectáculo” é Colin Vallon, um mago do Fender Rhodes, que tanto urde teias vaporosas como alimenta ritmos endemoninhados. Masson diz-se influenciado por Messiaen e Rage Against The Machine (e tudo o que está pelo meio) e se os segundos não são alheios às faixas mais “musculadas”, o primeiro paira sobre as águas negras, lisas mas inquietantes, de “Le Phasme”.

O trio do acordeonista Will Holshouser com Ron Horton (trompete) e David Phillips (contrabaixo), que já gravara dois discos muito recomendáveis para a Clean Feed, Reed Song e Singing to a Bee, associou-se, por inspirada sugestão da editora, ao pianista Bernardo Sassetti. Felizmente não se ficaram pelo espectáculo ao vivo nos Dias da Música de 2008 e deram um salto aos estúdios Valentim de Carvalho, de onde saiu este Palace Ghosts & Drunken Hymns (****). O disco abre com Carlos Paredes e uma “Dança Palaciana” que perdeu todo o carácter palaciano e volteia, ébria, num bar de uma Nova Orleães submersa por mais um furacão calamitoso. “Dance of the Dead” são os Penguin Cafe Orchestra de visita ao México, “Narayama” uma belíssima paisagem que emerge da bruma, “East River Breeze” tem walking bass dançante e uma trompete que narra as agruras da vida num lirismo desbragado. Há afinidades sonoras com o saudoso grupo Charms of the Nightsky, de Dave Douglas, mas o espectro emocional de Palace Ghosts & Drunken Hymns é mais amplo e à melancolia soma tons rústicos e circenses. Há momentos em que não se estranharia se Tom Waits entrasse em cena, acusando o piano – e restantes instrumentos – de ter andado a beber.