Daily Archives: February 4, 2009

JazzReview review by Glenn Astarita

cf-115Trio Viriditas – Live At Vision Festival VI (CF 115)
The band’s fruition began in 2000 during German native and multi-reedman Alfred Harth’s residence in New York City, when he aligned with bassist Wilber Morris and drummer/vibraphonist Kevin Norton.  Sadly, in 2002 Morris passed away.  But, the trio’s performance and recording endeavors sparked a great deal of interest and excitement within the global jazz community.  It’s a facet that continues thanks to this 2008 release, culled from the group’s 2001 gig at New York City’s Vision Festival and serves as a glowing reminder of the musicians’ astonishing synergy and seemingly endless flow of ideas.  Here, depth and cunning use of space signify just two components of their resonating developments within the free-form and progressive-jazz realms.

Enhanced by the superb live audio transfer to disc, the trio is a multitasking machine, anchored by Morris and Norton’s polytonal rhythmic underpinnings.  And it’s a democratic engagement where Harth’s clarinet and sax lines profess a variety of probing storylines amid his band-mates’ oscillating pulses and call/response mechanisms.  In effect, the musicians cast a horde of emotive aspects, whether its Harth’s gruff and edgy tonalities or when Norton paints quaint little portraitures via his deft vibes work. 

They merge a somber tone with a bluesy gait, accelerated by Harth’s plaintive cries on the aptly titled “Melancholy.”  However, the trio adds another dimension to the program, largely due to Harth’s concise pocket trumpet excursions atop a staggered beat, evidenced within the smack and jab parameters of “Viriditas Waltz.” Moreover, the artists engage in furious improvisational exercises, complete with abrupt spikes and melodically tinged movements.  Sure enough, the unit moves forward with the grace of a deer navigating through a forest while also depicting the knockout punch of a heavyweight champ defending his title.  There’s lots for the mind’s eye to ponder throughout this irrefutably, persuasive outing.


Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

cf-130JOE MORRIS / BARRE PHILLIPS – Elm City Duets (CF 130)
What transpires from Elm City Duets after repeated dutiful listens is an impression of mutual regard, a quality which should be at the basis of cognisant interplay in every juncture. All the more complicated is fulfilling such an ambition in a guitar/double bass duo, a situation that only on the odd occasion warrants really good results – especially in terms of dynamics. Morris manifests a fan-like mindset in the liner notes, where he recalls his first meetings with Phillips many years following his “melting” the B side of Archie Shepp’s New Thing At Newport. The actual music in the CD doesn’t reveal any sort of excessive veneration, though, thus we can effortlessly appreciate the consideration given by the artists to the infinitesimal detail as opposed to prefabricated incidents. A sparkling chord occurs because it was meant to be there at that moment, yet no one knew in advance; a touching arcoed lament appears out of nowhere to project our own inner tremor in the area of unintentional thankfulness. In essence, we’re talking about a fairly untreated acoustic interface between two distinguished improvisers who give birth to frequent moments of superb artistic purity, either slightly encrusted by the strident features of the instruments or defined by an extremely efficient juxtaposition of smart clusters, percussive clattering, minimal patterns and strenuous contrapuntal digressions. In times of abundant eruptions of psycho-babbling vacuum, here’s a rare chance for the appreciation of a rather complex, yet kind-hearted expression of zealous musicianship by creative entities who have turned their will to remain unadulterated in a world of dubious circumstances into a distinct trait of tightly established earnestness, the sort of skill where even a minor blemish becomes an attribute to approve and learn from.