Daily Archives: November 3, 2008

Free Jazz review by Stef

Angelica Sanchez – Life Between (CF 128)
This is Angelica Sanchez’ second CD as a leader, after “Mirror Me”, released in 2003. She can also be heard on two albums by the Malaby/Sanchez/Rainey Trio, with her husband Tony Malaby on sax and Tom Rainey on drums. Add to this trio French guitarist Marc Ducret and bassist Drew Gress and you get this quintet. Gress, Ducret and Rainey are of course also regular collaborators of Tim Berne’s many bands. Musically however, there are worlds of difference. Yes, it’s still very much free with lots of improvisations, but it’s less avant-garde than Tim Berne, less abrasive, a little more gentle and restrained even than the Malaby/Sanchez/Rainey Trio, more compact in any case. The pieces are composed, at least harmonically and structurally, often also thematically. This more constrained form apparently allows her, as the pianist, to move more comfortably: lyrical, gentle and emotional, using the nice tonal possibilities of her Würlitzer electric piano, while at the same time leaving lots of space to her fellow musicians. As the other soloists, both Malaby and Ducret shine. Malaby has a versatility and broadness of pallette which allows him to play in any context, Ducret is in a guitar category of his own, neither playing jazz nor rock, yet a little bit of both, and he has so much to offer in creativity and character, that even in the more subdued moments, his sometimes wild approach offers depth and new perspectives to the music. Needless to say that Drew Gress and Tom Rainey are playing at their usual high level. The music is a step further into more adventurous territory compared to Sanchez’ debut album, and it is for sure a step in the right direction to my taste. The overall result is beautiful and sensitive low to mid-tempo music, flowing like a river, but one with rapids once in a while and unexpected twists and turns, offering new vistas.

All About Jazz review by Troy Collins

RIDD Quartet – Fiction Avalanche (CF 121)
Fiction Avalanche is the debut recording of a formidable young collective, the RIDD Quartet. Pianist Kris Davis, saxophonist Jon Irabagon, bassist Reuben Radding and drummer Jeff Davis are bandleaders at the forefront of a new Brooklyn scene, one which subtly incorporates the vagaries of myriad genres and styles into new avenues for exploration.

Consisting of ten collectively composed tunes, these stylistically cohesive works veer between dulcet sentimentality and unfettered aggression, modulating from one emotional extreme to the other—often in the same piece. The quartet understands the value of restraint however; keen listening and an empathetic rapport embolden their dynamic transitions with a poised focus that many collectives lack.

A singular artist on the rise, Kris Davis’s neo-classical aesthetic blurs the line between restless impressionism and aleatoric invention. While turbulent salvoes are unleashed in climactic passages, it is her ability to summon disquieting lyrical fragments that reveals her true talent. Her euphonious refrains on “Paoli” are sublime, but it is the tortuous filigrees on “Sky Circles” and “Blue Cry,” alternating between atonal patterning and poetic introspection, that are most striking.

As a key member of bassist Moppa Elliott’s Mostly Other People Do The Killing, Jon Irabagon embraces every aspect of the tradition, from featherweight balladry to coruscating skronk. A sonic extremist, his capacity for transposing dissonant multiphonics and undulating overtones into tuneful phrases is demonstrated on “Sky Circles” and the vociferous “Monkey Catcher.” His keening cries yield strangely appealing harmonies when combined with Davis’ tinkling, harpsichord-like note clusters on pieces like “The Five Ways.”

Reuben Radding’s robust tone and nimble phrasing makes a complementary pair with Jeff Davis, whose colorful accents and vigorous rhythms gracefully negotiate fluctuating dynamics and rubato rhythms of indeterminate meter and tempo. A true collective, the conventional roles of soloist and accompanist are in continuous flux, allowing Radding and Davis greater freedom. Periodically repeated thematic motifs act as harmonic anchors; knotty piano arpeggios and circuitous saxophone cadences provide fleeting melodies as pliable bass and drums generate propulsive forward momentum.

Resounding with fragments of bittersweet melancholy and mellifluous lyricism, punctuated by escalating thickets of caterwauling noise, Fiction Avalanche is an emotionally intense and dynamically varied document from the next generation.