Daily Archives: April 6, 2009

New Clean Feed releases for April 21st

CF 140 – Herculaneum “Herculaneum III“
Nick Broste – trombone
John Beard – guitar
Greg Danek – bass
Nate Lepine – flute
David McDonnell – alto saxophone and clarinet
Partick Newbery – trumpet and flugelhorn
Dylan Ryan – drums and vibraphone


CF 141 – Lucky 7’s “Pluto Junkyard“
Jeb Bishop – trombone (guitar on “The Dan Hang”)
Jeff Albert – trombone and bass trombone
Josh Berman – cornet
Keefe Jackson – tenor saxophone
Jason Adasiewicz – vibes
Matthew Golombisky – double bass (electric bass on “The Dan Hang”)
Quin Kirchner – drums


CF 143 – Transit “Quadrologues”
Jeff Arnal – percussion
Seth Misterka – alto saxophone
Reuben Radding – bass
Nate Wooley – trumpet


CF 144 – João Paulo / Dennis González “Scapegrace”
João Paulo – piano
Dennis González – Bb cornet and C trumpet


CF 145 – Avram Fefer / Eric Revis / Chad Taylor “Ritual”
Avram Fefer – alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet
Eric Revis – double bass
Chad Taylor – drums

All About Jazz Italy review by Luca Canini

cf097Steve Lehman – Manifold (CF 097)        
Un ottimo repertorio, quattro musicisti di grande sensibilità e intelligenza, una torrida serata portoghese e un’etichetta che raramente sbaglia un colpo. Che altro chiedere a un disco jazz?
Registrato dal vivo durante il festival lusitano di Coimbra, Manifold è l’ennesima prova della maturità raggiunta da quel piccolo grande talento di Steve Lehman. Un lavoro asciutto e per certi versi meno stratificato rispetto alle precedenti prove licenziate per la Pi con Vijay Iyer (ad esempio Demian as Posthuman, che in qualche modo strizzava l’occhio all’elettronica), ma non per questo meno riuscito e affascinante.

Per inquadrare grossolanamente il mood si potrebbe parlare di un free molto attento alle strutture, da qualche parte tra il primo Dave Douglas e Tim Berne, con un occhio ai quartetti di John Lindberg. Se infatti non mancano i momenti di eccitante tensione, i soli trascinanti e infuocati, a prevalere e convincere è un raro senso della misura e dell’orchestrazione, che porta ogni traccia a un preciso compimento, a uno sviluppo impeccabile e intelligente.

Così ad esempio nell’iniziale “Interface D” non si può non ammirare l’estrema precisione della resa del quartetto, perfetto nel restituire la portata di un brano pennellato con grande perizia ritmica e armonica. Stesso discorso per l’unico standard in scaletta, una pregevole interpretazione di “Dusk,” brano scritto da uno che di strutture qualcosa ne capiva: Andrew Hill. Entusiasmante, infine, il duo tromba-contralto che apre “Is This the Rhythm?,” dialogo ispirato che non avrebbe sfigurato in un disco AACM di fine anni Sessanta.

Sospeso tra i maestri Braxton e McLean, il contralto di Lehman si distingue per inventiva e attenzione alla forma degli interventi, richiamando di tanto in tanto il vibrato carnale di Henry Threadgill. Pregevole anche il contributo di Jonathan Finlayson, trombettista dotato di una voce limpida e di un fraseggio cristallino. Strepitoso, come sempre, Nasheet Waits: imprevedibile motore ritmico. Sorprende, infine, il basso di John Hebert, perfettamente a suo agio in un contesto che non ne esalta soltanto la proverbiale rotondità.

Bene, bravi, bis!

All About Jazz review by Clifford Allen


Give The Cellist Some: Okkyung Lee / Daniel Levin / Peggy Lee / Alexander von Schlippenbach

The cello has become somewhat like the bass clarinet in jazz—there are a significant number of practitioners on the instrument, yet it still wears the flag of rarity quite proudly. Even if it hasn’t been prominent, the instrument still has a long history in jazz, most notably beginning with Oscar Pettiford and Calo Scott in the Fifties and continuing with players like Joel Freedman, Abdul Wadud, Muneer Al Fatah, and Alan Silva in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. Four recent discs each display absolutely different approaches to the instrument in this music: transplanted New Yorkers Okkyung Lee and Daniel Levin; Vancouverite Peggy Lee’s highly composed octet; and New Hampshire native Tristan Honsinger, a stalwart of European free improvisation since the 1970s, in chamber trio with longtime associate, pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach.

Okkyung Lee – Check for Monsters (Emanem)
Okkyung Lee, born in Korea, has been an integral part of New York’s downtown scene since the turn of the millennium, having played in John Zorn’s Cobra and Butch Morris’ orchestras as well as with experimental and noise figures like Thurston Moore, C. Spencer Yeh and Christian Marclay. Somewhat surprisingly, Check for Monsters is only Lee’s third recording as a leader. She’s joined here by multi-instrumentalist Steve Beresford (on piano) and trumpeter Peter Evans on four group pieces. The three players work extraordinarily well as a unit, as each has a clear relationship to both scumbled mass and elegant poise. The short improvisation that rounds out their Roulette set, “Egokrlo-nar,” manifests this perfectly. Beresford plays with Satie-like song fragments and Mikrokosmos clusters as Evans’ breath darts in high arcs and splays out in metallic circular breathing, while Lee is devilishly swooping and percussive. This trio has made scrabbling power into elegant play.


Daniel Levin Trio – Fuhuffah (CF 129)
Daniel Levin’s Fuhuffah is, by all accounts, a true power-trio date, his blood-red double and triple stops, maddening glissandi and spiky exhortations supported by the whirlwind of drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on six originals and a staggering rendition of the folk tune “Hangman.” The title track finds him pulling out most of the stops (pun intended) in his technical palette, yet he’s essentially a “traditional” player. Knocking wood and hushed microtones aren’t particularly part of his language (as they sometimes are with Okkyung Lee or a player like Fred Lonberg-Holm). In saxophonist terms, he’s the J.R. Monterose or Frank Gratkowski to, say, Lonberg-Holm’s John Butcher, and listeners whose mettle is toward intense but lyrical lead instruments over rhythmic waves would do well with Fuhuffah.

Peggy Lee Band -New Code (Drip Audio)
Peggy Lee’s octet falls rather far from the free improvisation tree on New Code, on which she’s joined by luminaries of Vancouver jazz and new music on twelve tunes, including one piece each by Kurt Weill and Bob Dylan. The latter’s “All I Really Want to Do” starts off the set beautifully, and perhaps placing Lee’s approach as an arranger somewhere between the music of Nels Cline and Beirut, via a somewhat Balkan brassy waltz supplanted by wheat-belt guitar twang. “Preparations” pits dust-bowl electricity and ponticello strings against a drifting march that, in its opening statements, recalls Amon Duul’s spaciousness before the tune’s stately head rears itself, lying quietly behind Lee’s tense and dangerous saw. Tenorman Jon Bentley, trumpeter Brad Turner and trombonist Jeremy Berkman each acquit themselves as forces on their instruments, but the twin guitarists tie the music to contemporary rock, which holds Lee’s work tightly between several distinct compositional poles.

Alexander Von Schlippenbach – Friulian Sketches (Psi)
Friulian Sketches is the latest outing from German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, yet this particular trio is clearly tied to a classical chamber lineage rather than anything traditionally “jazz.” He’s joined here by fellow Globe Unity Orchestra conspirators Tristan Honsinger and Italian clarinetist Daniele D’Agaro for twenty short improvisations that, whether due to instrumentation or “feel,” reside firmly in a tradition beholden more to Bartok than Cecil Taylor. D’Agaro’s reed sallies forth with crisp swing and only occasional unruliness, supported by the interlocking rhythmic arcs of cello and piano, lending infectiousness to the uptempo pieces. Honsinger’s “earmeals” and frequent vocalizations root the group’s urgency in madcap energy, or he puckers his lines tersely next to muted piano and chamuleau tiptoe. It’s a wonder that this sort of chamber approach rarely enters the sparser moments of the GUO; perhaps this is a step more firmly in the classical tradition for von Schlippenbach’s music.

All About Jazz review by John Sharpe

ken-filiano-by-nuno-martins2Ken Filiano Fourfer: The bird, the breeze and Mr. Filiano; Surface Tension; Fulminate Trio; The Ultimate Frog
Ken Filiano  

Paulo Curado – The bird, the breeze and Mr. Filiano (CF 113)
Steve Adams Trio – Surface Tension (CF 131)
Fulminate Trio – Fulminate Trio (Generate Records)
Jim McAuley – The Ultimate Frog (Drip Audio)

It was Ornette’s Quartet which finally bust open the floodgates, allowing equal freedom of expression for the bass as the frontline. 50 years on and Charlie Haden’s lessons in freewheeling commentary, allied to pulse unhitched from chord changes or bar lines, have now been so thoroughly absorbed as to be part of every bassist’s birthright. Ken Filiano, with his muscular tone and bold arco work, makes full use of that freedom on this quartet of discs.

The Bird, The Breeze and Mr. Filiano constitutes the bassist’s second recording with Portuguese reedman Paulo Curado and they have clearly developed a strong rapport, ably abetted here by drummer Bruno Pedroso. Everyone benefits from a spacious group conception, fashioned over 11 collectively-credited tracks in the 56-minute program, even though some are solos or duets. Given the cohesion of the trio and the beauty of some of the extemporized melodies, such as the gorgeous flute line which caps “Novos Mundos para o João,” it would be easy to believe these were notated compositions. Both individual expression and group interaction flourish at a high level, whether through the language of breath sounds, furtive drum rolls and keypad pattering which congeals into nervous momentum on “Pequenos Duendes” or the way Pedroso responds to Curado’s every twist on the lengthy “Villages (The Vanguard and All)”.

On Surface Tension, recorded in 2000, Filiano plays a prominent role alongside Rova saxophonist Steve Adams’ saxes and bass flute and Scott Amendola’s percussion, whether doubling up on the heads or stepping out with intricate runs. All eight pieces are from Adams’ pen and fall loosely into the ‘freebop’ arena. Adams rings the changes through his choice of axes, where he particularly engages on baritone, being casually funky before turning up the temperature on “The Another Form in Time Voice” and positively burning on the conclusion to the fiery “Cacophony (for Vinny Golia)”. Arco bass filaments intermingle pleasingly with bass flute on “Upper and Lower Partials” and Filiano’s taut a capella intro to the title track is one of the high points of this solid session.

With drummer Michael Evans and guitarist Anders Nilsson, Filiano completes the Fulminate Trio, for the five tracks of their eponymous debut. Carla Bley’s “Floater” forms a languidly dreamy opener with resonant guitar/bass congruencies drifting effectively over shuffling percussion; otherwise Evans and Nilsson originals comprise the remainder of the 55-minute program. A strong collective group aesthetic prevails, resulting in dense soundscapes, through which the ear is drawn to Nilsson’s sometimes rocky, sometimes lyrical guitar lines. “Road Runner/Coyote” is a doomy mélange of scuttling guitar, slashing arco and rumbling percussion while “The Red One” starts in a similar vein, combined with sparingly deployed electronics, before Filiano deconstructs a loping bass riff over which Nilsson spins expansive stories.

Veteran guitarist Jim McAuley’s sparse discography belies his 40-plus years of activity, so the two-disc set of largely improvised duets on The Ultimate Frog is a valuable document. McAuley worked in the folk rock and LA session worlds before settling under the creative music umbrella. While the 2002 session with the late violinist Leroy Jenkins may be one of the main selling points, those with Filiano, guitarist Nels Cline and his percussionist brother Alex are no less rewarding. McAuley’s idiosyncratic blending of free jazz, folk and blues draws open, determinedly non-idiomatic responses from his partners. But though mixing up the pieces by different collaborators keeps things fresh, the relatively constrained sonic palette means this 98-minute project feels best sampled a few tracks at a time.

All About Jazz review by Clifford Allen

cf-130Joe Morris: MVP LSD, Elm City Duets, High Definition and Rejuvenation 
Joe Morris/Jon Voigt/Tom Plsek – The Graphic Scores of Lowell Skinner Davidson (Riti)
Joe Morris/Barre Phillips – Elm City Duets (CF 130) 
Joe Morris Bass Quartet – High Definition (Hatology )
Flow Trio – Rejuvenation (ESP Disk)

Guitarist/bassist-composer Joe Morris talks about one thing repeatedly: flow. He spoke about this facet of his music recently in a discussion with this writer about the late improvising composer Lowell Davidson. Davidson was a multi-instrumentalist who acted as a beacon to a number of younger Boston-based musicians in the ’70s and ’80s, including Morris. His music moved very slowly, hinging on sonic particles and lingering atmospherically, even as rhythms shifted. Those atmospheres could develop into extraordinarily piercing conditions felt objectively. Morris takes a page from that book and builds on it in four extremely varied recent recordings.

MVP joins Morris’ guitar with bassist Jon Voigt and trombonist Tom Plsek, all of whom are fellow travelers in Davidson’s sound world, for a program of ten compositions and one group improvisation. None of the pieces on The Graphic Scores of Lowell Skinner Davidson had been recorded before and their titles mostly correspond to the colored markings on the scores. “Blue Sky and Blotches” begins the set with vicious arco bass, Voigt hitting high harmonics and horsehair-swirling clusters. Trombone and bass unify in resonant long tones, almost like a single player’s multiphonics, while Morris approximates the cutting clink of kalimba, Nigerian single-string violin and throaty blues playing. The guitarist’s horizontal scrapings, which he calls riti (after the African instrument), are a result of playing with Davidson. He needed an approach to resonant harmonic clusters that wasn’t confined to the same structures that European players were using, mostly in the wake of Derek Bailey. He darts gnatlike into high-pitched metallic buzz, then growls midrange before a half-scraped, half-strummed fleck emerges, adding latticework to the drone of trombone and bass. But behind all the activity is an easy detail, where Morris strums Jimmy Raney-esque chords and clipped upturns as Plsek and Voigt pitch and yaw with a wobbly, glottal strut.

The idea of extended technique, such a significant part of the landscape of contemporary improvisation is, to Morris, something of a misnomer insofar as the idea of improvisation itself is something that can extend one’s technique. Bassist Barre Phillips’ work also fits that axiom; he’s long been on the forefront of free music as a player who finds new textural avenues through the whole of his instrument while retaining an extraordinarily classical poise. Though both Morris and Phillips had played in similar circles, it was in 2004 that they began formally working together and two years later recorded Elm City Duets. Though crackling scrapes and glissandi make for a spiky nest on the introductory piece and their spars search mutually, the clear bottom afforded by Phillips’ pizzicato and Morris’ folksy wandering on “Recite” makes for a measured and steady dance. Sure, the guitarist clambers a rickety waterspout of registers in parallel with heavy wooden thrum, but it’s within a language directly tied to the instruments’ regular habitats. Riti scrabble, the flat plunk of prepared strings and subtonal fingerboard slaps are a broadening of the vocabulary.

High Definition is yet another side of Morris—or two—as it presents him in a compositional light alongside his bass playing which, in tandem with drummer Luther Gray, serves the tunes’ rhythmic tensions perfectly. Morris is joined here on eight originals by cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and saxophonist Allan Chase, the latter a collaborator on trumpeter John McNeil’s excellent East Coast Cool (OmniTone, 2004). The opening “Skeleton” recalls some of Anthony Braxton’s pianoless quartet work in the ’70s, a slinky theme that moves through uneven cycles. Rather than ghost trance stop-time, though, Gray and Morris keep an unwavering beat underneath Chase’s plowing and husky baritone and the gulping, brittle shrikes of Bynum’s brass. Choruses of pots and pluck later, the theme returns as a sophisticated answer to any query of “what is free-bop?” Lilting multiple tempos signal “Morning Group,” note cells hovering in a space continually active and clearly defined. Bynum takes Bill Dixon’s teachings into his own space, clear and cube-like clusters that move forward while rhythm hangs back and shades the corners.

To come full circle, Rejuvenation is the first disc from the aptly-named Flow Trio: Morris on bass with tenorman Louie Belogenis and drummer Charles Downs (formerly known as Rashid Bakr). Belogenis has played with figures in the music as diverse as Ikue Mori, Rashied Ali and Sunny Murray and his approach to the tenor is reminiscent of early Joe McPhee, sandblasted wide-vibrato, full and breathy yet with a microcosmic sense of detail. After the solo harmonic exploration of “Reflection,” a backwater poem of taut multiphonics and solitary keening, Morris and Downs enter for “Slow Cab”. Their approach to rhythm is almost laconic it’s so loose and hangs back from power trio expectations. Morris’ bass playing is coolly repetitive, plucking distant outlines for Downs’ cloudy gauze and Belogenis’ measured, flinty outpourings. Even when the music increases in density, mallets ricocheting off hot tenor walls, the pace is very natural, almost restive. Morris’ writing and choice of compatriots give a sense of directed motion to sound, reasserting the notion of swing as tension between actual and implied.

Jazzreview review by Glenn Astarita

cf-127The Flatlands Collective – Maatjes (CF 127)
In the liners, Dutch saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra ruminates about his American music influences leading to his development as an ‘outside’ player in The Netherlands.  Here, the artist aligns with the upper echelon of Chicago area performers for an album that was recorded subsequent to the band’s European tour.

The sextet makes the most of its somewhat odd instrumentation groupings, largely due to Dijkstra’s use of the lyricon and analog synth, coupled with cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm’s analog electronics.  As they engineer these works upon layered textures and semi-structured song-forms. 

On “Mission Rocker,” drummer Frank Rosaly provides a weighty rock pulse, nicely contrasted by clarinetist James Falzone and trombonist Jeb Bishop’s crisp unison choruses over the top.  Cleverly designed contrasts are in abundance here and throughout the program.

The musicians delve into playful free-form antics at times, but pursue melodic phrasings to counterbalance the avant, element.  In effect, it’s one of the quotients that provides a successful recipe.  They intermingle the best of many musical worlds while conjuring up a hodgepodge of mood-enhancing dialogues to include some wily EFX injections, namely on the piece “In D Flat Minor.”

One of the many highlights is the composition “Druil,” featuring a burgeoning and powerful horns-based and rhythmic thematic buildup.  It’s a vibrant work, topped off by a progression of memorable hooks, and Dijsktra’s edgy alto sax solo to complement Falzone’s whirling clarinet voicings.  Yet the band often tosses in a few loops, where Dijsktra offsets the mood with a murky synth solo. 

You can expect the unexpected on this irrefutably persuasive release.  However, it all makes near perfect musical sense.  They’re an artsy outfit that instills a singular group-centric voice into the overall picture.  In sum, it’s essential listening for progressive-jazz aficionados. 

Tomajazz review by Patchi Tapiz

cf-118Conference Call – Poetry in Motion (CF 118)
Poesía en acción ****
Poetry In Motion de Conference Call (cuarteto compuesto por el saxofonista y clarinetista bajo Gebhard Ullman, el pianista Michael Jeffry Stevens, el contrabajista Joe Fonda y el percusionista George Schuller) es un manjar. El menú que proponen estos cuatro músicos está compuesto por siete exquisiteces. Como ocurre con los platos más selectos, su magnífica entrada en oido explota en múltiples sensaciones si se degustan empleando para ello el tiempo suficiente.

Un factor decisivo es la enorme categoría de esos cuatro músicos. Conference Call no es la típica reunión de figuras de turno que coinciden en un estudio y que habitualmente suele devenir en experimento con mayor o menor fortuna en su forma final. Este grupo lleva funcionando como tal diez años, siete con estos cuatro integrantes. Una cantidad de tiempo más que suficiente para dar lugar a conciertos, grabaciones en directo y en estudio, colaboraciones en otros proyectos, pero sobre todo para crear esos lazos invisibles que hacen que haya un grado de entendimiento que va más allá de lo que aparece escrito en los pentagramas.

Conference Call funciona como una unidad orgánica, a lo que colabora sin duda que todos los músicos hayan aportado sus correspondientes composiciones. Éstas son expuestas con un grado de libertad tal que permite que los instrumentistas varíen sus roles habituales o que trabajen en una aparente independencia que de repente se transforma en sincronía perfecta. El resultado es un paradigma de cómo debe funcionar un grupo de jazz y pura poesía para los oídos de principio a fin.