Daily Archives: July 18, 2008

Gaz-Eta review by Tom Sekowski

Dennis Gonzalez NY Quartet – Dance of the Soothsayer’s Tongue (Live at Tonic) (CF 094)
Trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez tends to blow me away. Literally. With each release, his playing gets tighter. While enrapturing himself with some of the best musicians on the scene, his writing gets stronger. On “Dance of the Soothsayer’s Tongue”, his all-over-the-map trumpet playing draws out a carefully knitted map for the other members of the quartet to unravel. Tenor guru Ellery Eskelin shapes the landscape with muscular playing that juxtaposes the leader’s rhythmic analogies quite well. Rhythm section – bassist Mark Helias and percussionist Michael T.A. Thompson – propel matters forward, while Thompson is even allotted a ten minute solo take in the form of “Soundrhythium”. Five part “Afrikanu Suite” is one of the highlights. With its ever-changing rhythmic tempo, the landscape is one of a ton of little nooks and crannies for the listeners to explore. Another great addition to Gonzalez’s already solid body of work.

Free Jazz review by Stef

Angles – Every Woman Is A Tree (CF 112)
Magic from Sweden, published in Portugal. This Swedish band consists of Johan Berthling on double bass, Kjell Nordeson on drums, Magnus Broo on trumpet, Martin Kuchen on alto sax, Mats Aleklint on trombone and Mattias Stahl on vibraphone. The band brings a strong anti-war album here, and an ode to women in war-time, the “trees” that hold the families together. The music has this unbelievable combination of energy, melodic beauty and emotional sensitivity. Some of the tracks are wonderful, and possibly among the best I’ve heard this year. The opening track starts with arco bass, followed by dramatic and sad alto sax, with the vibes offering the right supportive touches, then the rhythm instruments move into a unison theme, opening the floor for the rest of the band to join in the sad melody. The bass also has a long intro for the second track, now on pizzi, for another wailing and tearful theme by the rest of the band. The title track is brilliant, with a strong and sweeping melody, very moving and heartfelt, offering lots of possibilities for expansion, and played in a wonderful African call-and-response mode, including percussive polyrhythmics and a staggering trumpet solo by Broo. And the next piece is great too, starting with a gut-wrenching sax solo by Küchen over a slow and bluesy rhythm, which offers the right background for the ensuing vibe and trombone solos. Those who know Küchen and Nordeson from their work with Exploding Customer will find similarities in the music, albeit less joyful here of course, and richer because of the additional instruments. The music is rhythmic, melodic, with a clear structural approach of theme, improvisations and back to theme, although a little more sophisticated. But compositional power is one thing, the major achievement is in the performance itself, which is warm, sad and wonderful. A great album.