Monthly Archives: September 2007

All About Jazz Review by Nic Jones

Wishful Thinking – Wishful Thinking (CF 078)
In days like these acts of musical subversion are always welcome, especially if they have the effect of provoking the conservatives into apoplexy, as this one just might.
What we have here is the “classic” hard bop quintet line-up of trumpet, tenor sax, piano, bass and drums putting out music that has next to nothing in common with that or any other overt strand of the tradition. What’s here instead is a program of group originals that are largely the antithesis of the rudimentary line for blowing on.
Tenor saxophonist Alipio C. Neto’s “Shi Jing” is a case in point. Over the course of almost nine minutes, nearly all the things that make this so distinctive a group come to the fore. Drummer Rui Goncalves’ snare drum crack is every bit as distinctive as Louis Moholo’s and the energized rushes of sound from all five members of the group sit remarkably easily alongside a line which echoes that of Miles Davis’s Four & More (Columbia, 1964), perhaps as an oblique nod to precedent.
Bassist Ricardo Freitas’s “Zombra” is a whole different deal and as such, a benchmark for just how much ground these guys are capable of covering. Alex Maguire’s piano work shows no overt allegiance to anyone and it’s always a joy to hear a musician whose work is so self-contained. Again there are the abrupt changes of tempo and mood which are hallmarks of this band’s work, but the fact that they’re brought off with such uncontrived aplomb offers maybe the best insight into just how well they function as a unit.
The contrast between the formal and the informal is one of the many things this group brings to the figurative table and this is especially evident on Neto’s “Urs’s Epitaph -DER HIRT. In Memoriam Urs Zuber,” where a dark but translucent line is realized through deft, multi-shaded contributions from the whole group. Again the listener is reminded of just how dense and enigmatic this music can be.
Neto and trumpeter Johannes Krieger are never featured in solo as such, though the subversive heart of this music lies not in such relatively superficial breaks. Krieger’s wistful “Bundawar” encapsulates just how different their roles are throughout the program and the underlying impression is of just how much importance these men attach to color as opposed to the sometimes tiresome results of extended soloing in an idiom that’s been around for over half a century.
Over the course of a program that arguably owes as much to more overtly formal Western art music as it does to jazz as such, it becomes clear that this group has marked out some singular territory. Their efforts in doing so pay ample rewards when it comes to stimulating listening.

Clean Feed NYC Fest review by Martin Longley


Martin Longley pulls together highlights from the recent NYC fest thrown by Lisbon’s forward-looking jazz label, Clean Feed.
Lisbon’s Clean Feed label is a lifeline for jazz players who dangle at the end of the music’s exploratory end, its catalogue stuffed with works by just about every key exponent of free improvisation, controlled improvisation or pre-meditated composition that sounds akin to the act of improvisation. Not so many of the label’s acts are actually Portuguese, and most hail from the US Of America, continuing the venerable tradition of hardcore Stateside music often being nurtured more in Europe, from blues to abstract crunching. Clean Feed’s roster can boast reedsmen Anthony Braxton, Charles Gayle, Steve Lehman and Evan Parker (the latter from the UK), and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love (a Norwegian). A very prolific catalogue has been built up since they began in 2001.

The Cornelia Street Café played host to a four-night mini-fest, featuring three combos on most nights. This Greenwich Village joint has been running for three decades: upstairs a lively three-roomed eatery, downstairs a den of underground iniquity, a long sphincter-walled room, pulsing with amber candlelight, with a tiny stage lurking right down the far end. It’s a fine place to listen, acoustically channelling music within an intimately cosseting tunnel. The Café also hosts a regular poetry evening, the Pink Pony, which has been running for six years, and there are regular platforms for blues and singer-songwriter fare…

Plenty of violins on the Friday night. Mat Manieri was bowing and plucking as a third of Russ Lossing’s Metal Rat, opening the evening with some exceedingly sparse, highly sensitive combinations. New York pianist Lossing released his Metal Rat disc at the year’s beginning. Sean Conly is tonight’s bassist. Together they negotiate delicate, maze-like themes, giving each other plenty of pauses, and relishing the sound of their own spaces. It’s all highly structured, but doesn’t sound overly cerebral. There’ll be another Rat band on tomorrow night, the first sub-theme of the festivities…

The next Friday band boasts two violinists, a second sub-theme, with Tanya Kalmanovich and Christian Howes expanding Indian percussionist Ravish Momin’s usual Trio Tarana to a four-piece. The other player is oud-man Brandon Terzic. Jazz is not surprisingly taken on a journey through the Middle East, to the Indian subcontinent, with Terzic’s strings resonating with a beautifully ringing natural reverb, and Momin playing with a passionate intensity, tenderising his skins with a sequence of constantly surprising rhythmic emphases. He knows how to arrest a booming skin, curtailing his own strikes with a precise stopping technique. Momin will be touring the UK in April 2008…

As a deliberately bombastic contrast, Adam Lane’s Full Throttle Orchestra amazingly manage to (mostly) cram onto the stage. Horns are the thing, bolstered only by drums and Lane’s own upright bass. Once again, it’s another outfit with a driving, enthusiastic leader, whipping the butts of his trumpet, reed and trombone front ranks. On cornet, there’s Taylor Ho Bynum, an Anthony Braxton sideman who’s rapidly rising as a solo artist. He mutes cornet with his floppy hat, with his compact disc, and even with his conventional mute attachment, but none of these can fully disguise a stiletto-precise attack. Hard-riffing dominates, with the horn guys cuing tight outbreaks of their own, clusters that are lifted up and dropped down beside the soloist-of-the-moment. Urban nocturnal thrills abound, speeding towards neon seediness.

Saturday night commenced with The Gerry Hemingway Quartet, and really couldn’t get any better thereafter. This percussionist and drummer (here favouring a conventional kit set-up) made his reputation as a longtime Braxton sideman (him again!), but Hemingway’s own work has itself been crucial on the scene. Tonite, he’s in powerhouse mode, but this cannot ever mean meathead knuckling, at least not without attendant grace and complexity. Yes, he’s piledriving like it’s his final appearance on Earth, but can we ever have witnessed such force coupled with this kind of sonic finesse? The quartet cohorts are all equally startling, but even they are casting sidelong glances of amazement at Hemingway’s hypercharged display. Ellery Eskelin and Ron Horton navigate their locked lines on tenor saxophone and trumpet, coolly executed in front of Hemingway and bassist Mark Helias, who seem to have decided on adopting the role of an avant-funk engine room, riffing and pumping whilst the elevated horners ascend overhead. Their 2005 Clean Feed disc, The Whimbler, provides the compositional lodestone throughout.

The tough task of following such brilliance falls to Free Range Rat, with their tussling trumpet, saxophone and bass clarinet, backed by bass and drums. On any other night, they would have seemed more impressive, but straight after Hemingway and crew, they were merely engaging, which, under the circumstances, was sort of good enough.

CF 100 release to be released soon!


Clean Feed will release 7 or 8 new CDs by the end of the year including
CF 100, a historic meeting between Anthony Braxton (reeds) and Joe
Morris (guitar). This is a 4-CD set —a studio recording — of long
improvisations by two of today’s indisputable jazz masters. It should
be out no later than November and is truly an event to look forward to.

We are also proud to announce these other gems that will be available
by late 2007:

Steve Lehman Quartet – Manifold
Dennis González NY Quartet at Tonic – Dance of the Soothsayer’s Tongue
Tamarind Heart (Tony Malaby/William Parker/Nasheet Waits)
Stephen Gauci’s Basso Continuo – Nididhyasana
Júlio Resende – Da Alma
Herb Robertson Ny Downtown Allstars – Real Abberation

Clean Feed Fest II in New York

If you’re in New York don’t miss the Clean Feed Fest II at Cornelia Street Cafe.
10 concerts in 4 days by some of the greatest artists in today’s Jazz.

Check out the program at

Scandinavian Jazz by Peter Margasak

Free Jazz review by Stef

Ethan Winogrand – Tangled tango (CF 074)

Punk and rock drummer Ethan Winogrand has released a modern jazz album with the title Tangled Tango and which is dedicated to Elvin Jones. The relationship between these elements is still not clear after several listens. Winogrand uses the broad jazz traditions as a source for his compositions, and he brings them with a changing line-up consisting of Gorka Benitez on sax, Steven Bernstein on trumpet, Ross Bonadonna on guitar, Carlos Barretto or Eric Mingus on bass. It all sounds very safe, no risks are taken, and there isn’t much new to hear either. Luckily the musicians are good enough to keep the interest going. Nice enough record, but I would have expected more drive and fireworks from someone with a rock and punk background.

All About Jazz Italy review by Ermes Rosina

Anthony Braxton / Joe Fonda – Duets (1995) (CF 079)
Questa ristampa di materiale già pubblicato dalla Konnex riprende il confronto tra il polistrumentismo di Braxton e il contrabbassista Joe Fonda, avvenuto nel maggio del 1995 alla Wesleyan University.
Questo tipo di incontro non è nuovo, avendo Braxton già inciso duetti con altri importanti esponenti delle corde gravi, come Mario Pavone e Peter Niklas Wilson.
L’ascolto di questo lavoro consente di apprezzare due aspetti dell’arte braxtoniana: l’amore per gli standard di Cole Porter (All of You) e Vernon Duke (Autumn in New York) evidenzia il debito verso Paul Desmond, omaggiato con sonorità calde, a tratti avvolgenti, mai torride o ribollenti come in altre occasioni.
Ai classici si affiancano composizioni originali dei contitolari del disco: in Out of the Cage, di Fonda, i due si concedono ampi margini di libertà da rigide maglie armoniche, per concentrarsi sull’esplorazione timbrica dei rispettivi strumenti, perseguita anche in Something from the Past – brano anch’esso a nome del bassista – dove il sassofono pare avvitarsi su se stesso in spire sempre più strette e soffocanti, inframezzate da brevi pause di distensione e respiro.
Nei brani a nome proprio, sempre puntualmente assecondato e ispirato da Fonda, il fraseggio di Braxton si fa frastagliato, talvolta deformato da un’emissione onomatopeica (come nella lunga composition 173, dove si apprezza in maniera particolarmente limpida il gran lavorio di Fonda).
Un’autentico compendio di materia jazzistica che – lungi dall’essere un abborracciato e asettico “bignami” – appassiona l’ascoltatore per l’originalità e la varietà dei suoi contenuti.