Daily Archives: February 25, 2009

Reuters feature by Elizabete Tavares

clean-feed-1LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s capital is normally associated with the melancholic fado music, but a new Portuguese jazz label is making a name for itself around the world with an adventurous approach to producing modern jazz.
Lisbon’s Clean Feed Records has been winning awards and gathering praise from critics in the jazz world for its vibrant exploration of modern jazz.
Founded in 2001, it has released 140 titles from jazz musicians across the planet, one-third of them from the United States, which is also Clean Feed’s main sales market.
“We like to record new artists and new sounds. I don’t like recording old guys doing the same old thing,” said Pedro Costa, founder and the main owner of Clean Feed, who says recording old standards all over again “just doesn’t make sense.”
Its records have been reviewed by jazz magazines and major newspapers. New York’s All About Jazz publication has rated it one of the five best jazz labels in the world for the last two years running.
“Big labels are not recording new artists. So it’s up to us to do that task of capturing and documenting an era … Jazz is all about discovering new sounds and authenticity,” Costa said.
Three of Clean Feed’s releases – including U.S. jazz pianist/composer Angelica Sanchez’s “Life Between” – were named among the albums of the year by All About Jazz.
The label’s biggest success so far in terms of sales is Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sasseti whose “Nocturno” album sold 7,000 copies, mainly in Portugal but also in Japan. In 2008, Clean Feed sold a total of 11,500 copies. It also organizes jazz concerts and festivals from Lisbon to New York.
Joaquim Paulo, author of the book “Jazz Covers” that won last year’s French Jazz Academy award for the best book about jazz, describes Clean Feed as “renowned and adventurous.”
“It has a huge musical and aesthetic sensitivity, along with the enormous courage to record new musicians,” Paulo told Reuters.
The five-strong Clean Feed team rents recording studios and hires sound engineers in a range of countries. The design of disk covers and the packaging is done in the Clean Feed office in downtown Lisbon.
Inside, a vast collection of jazz CDs are on display in a space that hosts the office, a shop and storage rooms.
The clanging and ringing of Lisbon’s trademark old yellow trams outside and the busy life of the Sodre docks on the Tagus river provide additional inspiration to the team.
Costa says the Internet and globalization have helped his small company to succeed internationally despite its distance from jazz hot spots such as New York and he likes it that way.
He said the distance allows them to take a wider view.

“To be in New York would be like being in a cave,” he said. “From Lisbon we can see the world.”

All About Jazz review by Vittorio Lo Conte

cf-1261Peter van Huffel – Sophie Tassignon – Hufflignon (CF 126)
Peter van Huffel, sassofonista canadese e la cantante belga Sophie Tassignon hanno deciso di mettere su un quartetto e di andare in studio, a New York, firmando un lavoro riuscito, meditato e con un attento equilibrio dei suoni.
La Tassignon padroneggia sia il repertorio antico (un’appassionata versione di “Cum dederit” di Vivaldi) che i vocalizzi sperimentali sdoganati da cantanti come Lauren Newton. Gridi, mormorii, tutto, ma proprio tutto, il possibile della voce umana viene esplorato in modo logico, in dialogo con un sassofono che ha imparato ad esprimersi con un lirismo intenso e con i due compagni d’avventura: il pulsante basso di Michael Bates ed il trombone di Samuel Blaser dai mille borbottii, ma anche abile ad inseguire momenti molto puliti con Peter van Huffel.

Si gradiscono la struttura dei brani, la logica ed una cantante che sa mettersi al servizio dell’esecuzione, molto abile nel rifiutare il ruolo di Primadonna, ma allo stesso tempo capace di improvvisare con molta naturalezza insieme agli altri, in discorsi che, nonostanti la lingua sconosciuta, appaiono abbastanza compiuti.

Rendono l’avanguardia quasi familiare, con gli assoli dei fiati che vanno su coordinate senza troppe note fuori registro. Ma lei, Sophie, è la vera rivelazione, un nome da cui c’è da aspettarsi ancora tanto. Verso la fine del disco, “I Love You Too,” “The Hours,” ha anche modo di firmare un paio di brani sì sperimentali, che meritano un solo aggettivo: emozionanti.

Free Jazz review by Stef

cf-135WHO Trio – Less Is More (CF 135)
The piano trio is probably one of the most common ensembles to be heard in jazz, and truth be told, I am a little weary of them, preferring the expressiveness of a horn section. Yet once in a while, a piano trio comes forward that has something new to tell. When I listened to WHO Trio’s “The Current Underneath” (Leo Records) a couple of years ago, I was immediately enchanted by the sheer musicality of the project. This one, “Less Is More”, is even better. The trio consists of Michel Wintsch on piano, Gerry Hemingway on drums and Bänz Oester on bass. I have rarely come across a band who can create the perfect marriage of tension and lyricism, like this trio does. The “less is more” concept really describes the music well, there is lots of open space, but there is also tension in every note being played. Every sound is full of restraint, as if it only hints at the vast hidden world that made it possible, yet that remains unseen. Implicit music. The note that isn’t played is as important as the one that is. Real beauty is revealed by suggesting it. Despite this sparsity of notes, the music itself makes sense. There is a simple beauty in it, with evolving melodic concepts, interesting compositional structures, and some extended techniques. Each piece is different, though, but all tracks fall within the same logic and supertight control. If the Japanese saying is true that beauty is “controlled passion”, then this album is for sure a great example of it.

All About Jazz Italy review by Vincenzo Roggero

cf-1302Joe Morris – Barre Phillips – Elm City Duets 2006 (CF 130)
A volte si intrecciano e si avvinghiano in un abraccio quasi soffocante, altre volte sembrano ignorarsi seguendo traiettorie apparentemente distanti, a volte sembrano intasare tutto lo spazio disponibile, altre volte rispettano un religioso silenzio, quasi timorosi di invadere il terreno altrui.
Stiamo parlando del contrabbasso di Barre Phillips e della chitarra acustica di Joe Morris, impegnati in otto duetti registrati per la sempre più interessante etichetta portoghese Clean Feed. Ma Elm City Duets 2006 è soprattutto una questione di corde, quelle sottili della chitarra e quelle più robuste del contrabbasso.

Corde pizzicate, accarezzate, maltrattate, percosse con le dita e con l’archetto, corde che stridono e che piangono, corde che narrano la vita e quindi raccontano gioie e dolori, illusioni e speranze. Non ci sono canovacci, tracce, punti di raccordo, snodi narrativi in Elm City Duets 2006, semplicemente c’è il fluire libero e senza ostacoli del pensiero musicale di due maestri della musica creativa.