It was a revelation when Portugal’s Clean Feed label began producing new and exciting music at the turn of this century. There seems to be no let up to their activities and recent additions to the catalog are to be celebrated.
Ethan Winogrand – Tangled Tango (CF 074)
Drummer Ethan Winogrand, formerly of the New York Punk Band Joe Cool, continues his association with guitarist Ross Bonadonna and Charles Mingus’ son, bassist Eric Mingus, in this very hip jazz ensemble. If you are keen on the music scene, the players—trumpeter Steven Bernstein (Sexmob), saxophonist Gorka Benitez and bassist Carlos Barretto—are three of today’s hottest properties. The twelve original compositions will appeal to fans not only of Bernstein, but also those who followed the late Lounge Lizards, Stanton Moore and the new Brooklyn thing.
Shoup/Burns/Radding/Campbell – The Levitation Shuffle (CF 73)
Saxophonist Wally Shoup came to the attention of many of us on guitarist Nels Cline’s disc Immolation/Immersion (Strange Attractors Audio House 2006). The Seattle improvising player is steeped in the tradition of saxophonists Evan Parker and Peter Brotzmann. That is to say he can blow the doors off or fiddle with silence and construct a meaningful sound. Bassist Reuban Radding is in top form here too. The quartet, although built around Shoup, finds contributions by all involved. This is a challenging set of music making—but rewarding to the most adventurous listeners.
Carlos Barretto Trio – Radio Song (CF 072)
After the release of last year’s Lokomotiv and the attention bassist Carlos Barretto received, Clean Feed decided to release this 2002 session. Barretto’s very accessible inside/outside writing draws upon not only jazz tradition, but ethnic music. With the inclusion of clarinetist Louis Sclavis, the recording becomes a fully formed sound. If you were wondering about the connections Portuguese jazz has to American and European improvisation, this is one of the best examples of a cross pollination of jazz, folk and blues—via a very fertile musical mind. The attractive sound of this record is due to the open playing of all involved, especially Barretto’s huge sound. They have also included a video of the title track, a treat for your eyes.
Otomo Yoshihide’s New Jazz Quintet – ONJQ Live In Lisbon (CF 063)
Recorded in Portugal in 2004, this meeting of Japanese noise, Swedish saxophone legend Mats Gustafsson and classic jazz turns out to be the ‘new thing’ on steroids. The turntablist/electronics artist Yoshihide picks up an electric guitar for this recontextualizing of classic songs by Charlie Haden (“Song For Che”) and Eric Dolphy (“Serene”). Veering between outright energy production and moments of sheer quiet beauty on Jim O’Rourke’s “Eureka,” the quintet doesn’t fail to surprise listeners. Gustafsson delivers his now patented baritone sound with all its inclinations towards warm interstellar travel.
Bernardo Sassetti – Unreal: Sidewalk Cartoon (CF 070)
Composer/pianist Bernardo Sassetti is perhaps best described as the signature artist of the Clean Feed label. Although his jazz is informed by pianist Bill Evans, the music he composes has a cinematic feel. He has written for Hollywood and that may explain the ongoing narrative he weaves through his recordings. This recording is contemporary classical, with a percussion ensemble, a saxophone quartet, and a woodwind/brass quintet. Think of Sassetti as a kinder, gentler version of John Zorn. Adding to his appealing discography, the soundtrack sounds of Unreal: Sidewalk Cartoon is a great listen.
Charles Gayle Trio – Consider The Lilies… (CF 060)
The ferocity of Charles Gayle’s tenor saxophone is not diminished in the least when, as here, he picks up an alto or as he has done of late, sits down to the piano. Fans know his firebrand music is informed by his faith. His Lord is not the prince of peace, but the lion of Judah. His emotions come full force through his playing. Here with drummer Jay Rosen and bassist Hillard Greene (the same lineup as on the recent Ayler Records disc) the saxophonist gives us forty-one minutes of well spent energy.
Alvin Fielder Trio – A Measure Of Vision (CF 071)
Just why Clean Feed is the leader in creative jazz music for this century is highlighted by this recording. I suspect drummer Alvin Fielder’s connection with Dennis Gonzalez is the link to this outing. Gonzalez’s trumpet has been resurrected (and featured) on Lisbon Improvisation Players’ Spiritualized and on three discs under his own name, No Photograph Available, Idle Wild, and NY Midnight Suite. The pair have a long-standing association and this recording by Fielder proudly presents Gonzalez and his two sons. The AACM founder and former Sun Ra drummer presents a mid-1960s sound not unlike that of the John Coltrane quartet, with all the warmth—yet produces quite challenging music.
Scott Fields Ensemble – Beckett (CF 069)
The guitarist Scott Fields provides a tribute to Samuel Beckett with a dense and challenging bit of chamber jazz or maybe modern classical/free music that he describes as “post-free jazz” and “exploratory music.” His concept of tightly packed compositions with noisy breaches of the oft times violent surface tempts the outer reaches of sound. Perfectly matched by the overtly quirky drummer, John Hollenbeck, these odd structures ask many musical questions, and sometimes provide answers.