Daily Archives: September 29, 2008

Free Jazz review by Stef

Fight The Big Bull – Dying Will Be Easy (CF 108)
****½

This is for sure one of the year’s albums with the highest musical dramatic effect, a score for a bull-fight, for a lost war, integrating musical genres as if there was no difference between them : marching band, New Orleans jazz, flamenco, blues. And when listening to this band, there is indeed no difference, all these genres fit perfectly well, sharing the same emotional genes. The band, led by guitarist Matt White, further consists of Pinson Chanselle and Brian Jones on percussion, Cameron Ralston on bass, Bob Miller on trumpet, Reggie Pace and Bryan Hooten on trombone, J.C. Kuhl on tenor saxophone and Adrian Sandi on clarinet. The album is short, a little of thirty minutes, yet worth every second of them. The first track “Dying Will Be Easy”, starts with a dragging marching band rhythm and atmosphere, leading on the listener into their world, like the throngs of village people following the musicians to the bull’s final destiny. The second track “November 25th” is dark, with the horns in full counterpoint with the rest of the band, with flamenco handclapping supporting a brilliant trumpet solo, before the main theme starts again, cinematic and impressive. The third track “Grizzly Bear”, starts with a full forward moving big band theme, but then rough and raw, disciplined with an edge, as an intro for a percussion solo, challenged in a duel with the bass, and with perfect timing, the band barges in again, with a fierce trombone solo on top. The highlight of the album is certainly the last track “In Jarama Valley”, which starts as a slow blues, with the trumpet playing in deep emotional sadness. The title referring to the battle of Jarama during the Spanish Civil War, and the following lines capture the atmosphere quite well:

“There’s a place in Spain called Jarama
It’s a place that we all know too well.
For ’tis there that we fought against the fascists
And saw a peaceful valley turn to hell”.

After the trumpet, the sax takes over, creating a little lighter mood at first, but when the rest of the band joins, full distress and despair ensues, with horns blowing in all directions, drums thudding and bass pounding, suddenly stopping for sparse guitar sounds and a wailing blues trumpet, for an even slower and sadder mood, heartbreaking as can be. If anything, it makes me think of Charlie Haden’s “The Ballad For The Fallen” in its grand sweeping theatrical display of sympathy with the underdog against the one in power, integrating all musical styles possible to demonstrate the universality of the theme, yet at the same time using the expressive elements that make these styles great and turning them into one big piece of an auditive story, the drama of mankind, but then compressed, condensed into half an hour of musical delight.
http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/

All About Jazz Italy review by Libero Farné

Carlos “Zingaro” / Dominique Regef / Wilbert DeJoode – Spectrum (CF 110)
Ogni volta che in un CD troviamo brani a firma congiunta siamo spinti a pensare che si tratti di improvvisazione collettiva e radicale. In realtà soltanto un colloquio coi musicisti o note di copertina particolarmente precise potrebbero confortarci nella nostra supposizione, escludendo il dubbio che ci sia stata un qualche accordo fra i musicisti prima dell’esibizione: appunti grafici, numerici o verbali, il ricorso volontario o meno a temi melodici dell’uno o dell’altro protagonista…
Nelle note di Spectrum Rui Eduardo Paes, stimato critico portoghese, afferma che “jazz da camera”, Third Stream Music, Crossover o fusion non sono categorie applicabili alla musica di questo trio d’archi, i cui membri si immergono in profondità e senza condizionamenti nel crogiolo del materiale sonoro, concentrandosi su strutture aperte e spontanee. Sembra dunque, fino a prova contraria, che questo CD, registrazione del concerto svoltosi il 5 febbraio 2004 allo Spectrum Festival di Porto, proponga appunto la più pura improvvisazione collettiva e radicale.

Detto questo, va subito aggiunto che l’esibizione è di altissimo livello qualitativo. Un’inventiva senza limiti ed un interplay istantaneo rendono l’evoluzione costantemente tesa e sorprendente, nella varietà e coerenza delle soluzioni messe in campo. Due sono le componenti principali, fra loro interconnesse: quella timbrica e quella dinamica. Dei tre musicisti, l’olandese DeJoode è colui che mantiene maggiormente il ruolo e la sonorità tradizionali del suo strumento, producendo un contrappunto scuro e puntato, un ruminare pensoso, pur sempre variato e di grande efficacia sia al pizzicato che con l’archetto. Il violino del portoghese Zingaro e la ghironda del francese Regef (il cui apporto anomalo, costante e singolarissimo risulta fondamentale) si integrano, si sovrappongono, si intrecciano, emanando una gamma incredibile di sonorità: di volta in volta sembra di ascoltare voci umane, sitar, armoniche a bocca, flauti, theremin e strumenti elettronici (la cui totale assenza stupisce).

L’aspetto timbrico però non è mai effettistico e fine a se stesso, ma è motivato e supportato dall’andamento dinamico e narrativo. Il procedere del racconto, forgiato via via dal dialogo a tre, si tende, si dilata, sussulta, divaga, si infittisce di voci o, raramente, prevede soliloqui, si spegne, si fa ossessivo o leggiadro, giustificando così una pronuncia eterodossa e complessa, ma del tutto funzionale. Se questa è l’impressione che si coglie dall’ascolto del CD, si può bene immaginare l’impatto esercitato dal concerto sui presenti, al numero dei quali ci si rammarica di non appartenere.
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=3136

Jazz & Blues Music review by Tim Niland


This has been a very good year for saxophone trios, with fine records from Donny McCaslin, J.D. Allen and Steve Lehman. Add to that list a trio led by bassist and composer Adam Lane, joined here by Mark Whitcage on alto saxophone and clarinet and Lou Grassi on drums. This is a lean and strong trio that works well together, beginning with “The Last of the Beboppers” which is nice raw free-bop, featuring Whitcage’s strong alto saxophone sounding good over swirling bass and drums. “Sanctum” has a mellow and vaguely Middle Eastern feel, very open sounding and mysterious as is “Like Nothing Else” which has a low and caustic bowed bass opening that evolves into an ominous, probing and swirling improvisation. “Chichi Rides the Tiger” is a strong performance with cool high sounding reed improvisation. Fast paced and interesting, this is one of the of the highlights of the disc. “Avanti Galoppi”, “Marshall” and especially “Five O’Clock Follies” from the latter half of the disc are excellent as well, sounding akin to the tough, streamlined saxophone trios that Sonny Rollins led in the 1950’s. This is interesting music that blurs the intersection between mainstream and avant-garde jazz in an intelligent and thoughtful fashion.
http://jazzandblues.blogspot.com/2008/09/adam-lane-drunk-butterfly-clean-feed.html

Adam Lane / Lou GRassi / Mark Whitecage – Drunk Butterfly (CF 116)