Daily Archives: April 20, 2009

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

cf-1292Daniel Levin – Fuhuffah (CF 129)
****
Daniel Levin é violoncelista, mas escusam de procurar aqui o timbre caloroso e cheio que se associa ao instrumento: o violoncelo de Levin é só osso, cartilagem e pele. O canto descarnado de Levin é sustentado pelo poderoso contrabaixo de Ingebrigt Haker Flaten e pela camaleónica bateria de Gerald Cleaver (um dia descobrir-se-á que existem, na verdade, dois ou três gémeos Cleaver). Entre os diversos caminhos contidos neste disco, sugere-se “Shape”, um moto perpetuo hipnótico e elástico, ou “Wiggle”, um mar alteroso de contrabaixo e percussão, varrido por rajadas de violoncelo que se convertem num ulular contínuo, testando os limites do virtuosismo e a resistência de um instrumento que o mundo se habituou a ver navegar em lagos plácidos ao luar.

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All About Jazz review by Maurizio Zerbo

cf-132John O’Gallagher Trio – Dirty Hands (CF 132)
****

Dirty Hands costituisce il disco (il sesto da leader) giusto per assaporare la valenza musicale dell’alto-sassofonista John O’Gallagher, noto al grande pubblico per le collaborazioni con Joe Henderson, Kenny Wheeler, Tony Malaby, Ben Monder o la Maria Schneider Orchestra.
In questa sessione portoghese del 2007 lo ritroviamo alla testa di un trio affiatatissimo con contrabbasso e batteria, in una formula a lui congeniale per l’esplorazione di dinamiche aspre e forti, in bilico tra composizione ed improvvisazione.

Si tatta di un gruppo che pur partendo da griglie compositive ben strutturate, ama talora inerpicarsi lungo sentieri ripidi di colori e spazi aperti, dove l’estro individuale del momento ha un ruolo fondamentale.

È il caso di “Lessons of History,” dove Gallagher raccoglie e proietta verso la contemporaneità la lezione di Ornette Coleman, per una prova di grande fantasia ritmica ed espressiva. Ne vien fuori una densa ed ispirata circumnavigazione, che richiede ai naviganti (gli ascoltatori) disposizione al rischio e all’indeterminatezza.
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=3777

All About Jazz Italy review by Luca Canini

cf-1291Daniel Levin Trio – Fuhuffah (CF 129)
La batteria, il contrabbasso, il violoncello.
Si potrebbe presentare così, parafrasando Lucio Battisti, il nuovo trio di Daniel Levin, formazione al debutto assoluto sotto l’egida della sempre lungimirante Clean Feed. E, rispettando l’ordine di cui sopra, alla batteria incanta Sua Sensibilità Gerald Cleaver, al contrabbasso giganteggia il vichingo Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten, al violoncello furoreggia, infine, il titolare della band (di recente ascoltato nel trio di Rob Brown nel meraviglioso Sound, altra gemma nel catalogo sempre più ghiotto dell’etichetta portoghese).

Se vi state chiedendo quale recondito mistero si nasconda dietro il titolo, Fuhuffah altro non è che un neologismo onomatopeico, il tentativo piuttosto maldestro di restituire in vocali e consonanti il suono di un respiro profondo. Un respiro profondo che sul pentagramma si trasforma in una sequenza di otto note che aprono la cavalcata free dell’omonima title-track, lungo gli otto minuti della quale Levin mette in mostra la propria sfavillante tecnica alternando archetto e pizzicato.

E il free, più o meno storico, più o meno black, è il tono dominante dell’intero disco, con l’incalzante “Shape” che si lascia apprezzare per il funky flavour scandito dalla sezione ritmica; mentre la struggente “Hangman” (unico non originale in scaletta) sa di omaggio al Revolutionary Ensemble e all’arte di Leroy Jenkins (buttate un occhio al video più sotto, si tratta di una versione live del celebre traditional). Omaggio esplicito, invece, quello a Jimmy Lyons, al quale è dedicata la conclusiva “Wiggle,” apice dell’intero disco con i suoi vertiginosi saliscendi.

Ben fatto Mr. Levin!
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=3827

Jazz Word review by Ken Waxman

cf-115Trio Viriditas – Live at Vision Festival VI (CF 115)
Harth/Irmler/Müller – Taste Tribes (For 4 Ears CD 1970)

Slightly more than six years separate these two sessions which feature German reedist Alfred 23 Harth, who is now a Seoul resident. The time lapse could be centuries.

While both live-ish performances are equally notable, each is decidedly different. From 2001 Live at Vision Festival VI finds the veteran improviser playing tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet and trumpet in the company of two Americans: percussionist Kevin Norton and the late bassist Wilber Morris. The nine selections are unmistakable high-quality Free Jazz. Taste Tribes on the other hand, recorded in 2007, proffers committed electro-acoustic sounds. The five tracks are created by a virtual trio, and include overdubs from two different session integrated with pre-existing samples.

Bed improvisations involve Harth playing tenor saxophone, clarinet, Kaoss Pad, thumb piano, voice and Dochirak Con Arco with either German organist Hans Joachim Irmler or Günter Müller, a German native who has been a Swiss resident for years, improvising on iPods and electronics. Not only showcased are a couple of instruments that didn’t even exist in 2001, but after initial creation Harth altered and mixed the material in his own Seoul studio.

Although Harth’s involvement with Free Music goes back to the 1960s collaborating with the likes of British drummer Chris Cutler, American guitarist Sonny Sherrock and German composer/keyboardist Heiner Goebbels, he was never part of the unbridled, nearly formless side of that style. Neither are/were Morris and Norton. Eschewing Energy Music, Trio Viriditas instead works in a low-key almost impressionistic genre, with Norton’s ringing vibes creating portamento pulses and Morris’ bass strings vibrating moderato pulses more frequently than spiccato runs or sul ponticello jabs. Operating in double or triple counterpoint, each man gets sufficient solo space, but the character of the interaction changes depending on which instrument the German multi-instrumentalist uses.

For example, the concluding “Peace” piece – Horace Silver’s not Ornette Coleman’s composition – may have some instances of reed-squeaking and below-the-bridge string-slapping, but overall hocketing tones and pitch jumps share space with passages where Harth’s rolling tenor saxophone intensity recalls Ben Webster; Norton’s multi-mallet whacks could come from Milt Jackson; and Morris’ powerful, on-the-beat thumps take up residence in Oscar Pettiford territory.

Compare this with “Hirananyagarbha” where Harth’s reed-biting clarinet exposition rings with Balkan or Klezmer interpolations, and teeters atop triangle slaps and maracas shakes from Norton. Later a soprano saxophone bridge is accompanied by sharp buzzing and long-lined drones from Morris’ strings. “And the loudspeakers loyal to the sea’s deep bass say June” exposes more of Harth’s personalities. Storming, contrapuntal bass clarinet growls make common cause with Norton’s busy drum patterning until the piece concludes with shrill shivers and sprays from Harth’s Don Ayler-styled trumpeting.

Like most saxophonists of his age – 59 – Harth has an allegiance to Coltrane – but in a unique fashion. On “Braggadacio”, while his bass tones are expressive, especially when backed by bouncing vibe slaps and pin-pointed gong strokes, his upper partials are more abstract, consecrated to deconstructed tongue-slaps and verbalized cries. Heading into spetrofluctuation, with blunt, crashing ride cymbal accompaniment from Norton, it remains to Morris to hold things together with boiling string ostinatos.

Firmly fixed in studio technology and electronics, the Harth on Taste Tribes could be a completely different person. The tracks here consist of duets recorded between Harth and Irmler – who has been a guitarist of Krautrock band Faust on and off since 1971 – and others between Harth and Müller, squished together with blurry, oscillated drones. To further complicate matters sonically, one track includes samples from the guitar work of Kawabata Makoto from Japan’s Acid Mothers Temple, while another includes excerpts from the first record by short-lived Krautrock super group Eruption.

Despite the samples, Taste Tribes is no more Heavy Metal than Live at Vision Festival VI is an example of the 1960s’ New Thing. Instead the CD presents multi-layered soundscapes, filtered and looped through processed burrs, reverb and crackles. With instrumental textures shrouded within the fluttering and signal-processed interface, reed sounds that are audible are actually more identifiable and numerous than guitar licks. Defining programming comes on “Doubletwist” and “Eruptive Obfuscation”, the last and penultimate track, each of which times in at around the 18 minute mark.

With the moody Eruption sample detonated into the mix of the later track, the result encompasses undulating oscillations, the occasional double-keyboard crescendo plus intermittent cymbal claps until kalimba-like plucks pierce the opaqueness. Among ring-modulated whooshes and drones, Harth’s reeds create watery quacks, blurry growls or high-pitched whistling. Later, as thick-orchestra-like measures explode from beneath harsh driven textures to reveal submerged strident peeps or small animal-like squeaks, the ear must decide whether these are the sounds of a saxophone reed, bagpipe chanter or computer knob-twisting. Staccato and inchoate, the reduced yet pulsing parameters unfold with certain logic. Eventually the klaxon-like barks and pre-programmed loops meld into chiming interface, concluding with unmistakable air diffused through a reed mouthpiece.

Variations on the same theme, but lacking the spluttering signals from additional samples, “Doubletwist” is an intermezzo that unrolls with gradually accelerating glissandi plus chirping saxophone obbligatos and masticated reed bites from Harth. As so-called real instrumental textures are filtered and sequenced around ping-ponging and ramping loops clanging, shuddering and corkscrewing upwards, the reedist’s finale is again built out of intermittent pauses then pulsations forced through one horn’s body tube.

Whether playing acoustically or electro-acoustically, Harth is showcased equally impressively on both discs.
http://www.jazzword.com/review/126756

All About Jazz review by Andrey Henkin


Ingebrigt Haker Flaten: Five Bass Hits

Townhouse Orchestra Belle Ville (CF 125)
Evan Parker/Ingebrigt Haker Flaten – The Brewery Tap (Smalltown Superjazzz)
Trinity Breaking the Mold (CF 135)
Ingebrigt Haker Flaten – The Year of the Boar (Jazzland)
Ingebrigt Haker Flaten/Hakon Kornstad – Elise (Hemlandssanger Compunctio)

Though Europe and Scandinavia are better known for their multitude of saxophonists, one should not overlook the remarkable number and quality of bassists hailing from the region. Though his greatest exposure arguably has come through his membership in the Scandinavian groups Atomic and The Thing, Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten is aggressively versatile in a wide array of contexts. Townhouse Orchestra is Flaten in partnership with Thing cohort Paal Nilssen-Love (drums), Sten Sandell (piano) and seminal British saxophonist Evan Parker. At least format-wise, this group is reminiscent of Parker’s work with Alexander von Schlippenbach’s quartet. But an even earlier precedent was set with the Parker/Kowald/Irene Schweizer/Pierre Favre group of the late 1960s. Belle Ville, named for the Oslo club from whence this live recording comes, sounds quite different from either, primarily through the sparse attack of Sandell. Parker, equally capable of squalls and stillness, operates more in the latter, with Flaten and Nilssen-Love restraining themselves for the most part. One of the best things about free improvisatory settings is that the “rhythm section” isn’t cowed by playing with someone of Parker’s stature and that the saxophonist is in discovery mode alongside his partners. An expansive, two-disc followup to this group’s first album. That same spirit is also prevalent on The Brewery Tap, Flaten’s duet record with Parker. Also recorded live at Belle Ville but six months later, Flaten has the delicious challenge of working with one of the masters of duo format. To draw a comparison between this album and Parker’s long-standing partnership with British bassist Barry Guy (another excellent player) is misleading. The instruments may be the same but Flaten is a far more percussive, less melodic player than Guy, placing more of the lyrical emphasis, if it can be called that, on Parker. The 44-minute performance is broken up into three segments and the tone of the collaboration is slightly more combative. Whereas Guy might echo Parker’s circular breathing, Flaten stabs at it, creating a wonderful three-dimensionality. Besides appearing together in Townhouse Orchestra, Flaten and Parker are new to each other and there is something compelling about hearing Parker adapt himself to playing with one of his musical heirs. Trinity’s Breaking the Mold may be the most Norwegian-sounding of any of the discs discussed here. Another followup record, the group’s name is no longer applicable since Kjetil Aster (reeds), Flaten and Thomas Stranen (drums) are joined for this album by the keyboards of Morten Ovenild. The punny title and track names “m Old,” “mo Lded,” “molD er” and “Breaking Them Old” refer to the 2006 Molde Jazz Festival where the group recorded this music. The sax-bass-drums lineup is a classic format in European improvised music and Trinity is certainly aware of both past work and future possibilities. They apply a dark sheen throughout, especially owing to the moody keyboards. Breaking the Mold isn’t quite as violent as the name might imply; the quartet often sound like they are pulling themselves back from a precipice. During the mid-2000s, Flaten relocated to Chicago: Oslo and The Windy City have a fruitful musical alliance. The bassist’s quintet is now primarily staffed by Chicagoans—Dave Rempis (saxes), Jeff Parker (guitar), Frank Rosaly (drums)—with violinist Ola Kvernberg the sole Norwegian holdover. The group’s second album, The Year of the Boar, is replete with the sort of brash funk for which the city is known. Some of the fusion elements from the earlier edition are retained, usually through Kvernberg, but the aesthetic has moved closer to that found on the Powerhouse Sound Oslo/Chicago: Breaks album from 2007. This is Flaten the composer, bandleader and logistics manager. His job is to write music that gives maximum room for this new group of musicians and this live document, once more from Belle Ville, shows Flaten acquitting himself nicely. Europe had its own fusion scene back in the 1970s and The Year of the Boar is a fine update to that tradition. The aforementioned quartets, duets and quintets—improvised or otherwise—do little to prepare listeners for Elise. Recorded at a studio in a castle estate in the Swedish countryside, Flaten arranged a number of traditional Norwegian hymns to be played by himself and countryman Hakon Kornstad (tenor saxophone and flutonette). In addition to that material, there is one co-composed song and an interpretation of Keith Jarrett’s “Death and the Flower”. There are few moments of genre recognition but primarily this is an introspective, beautifully conceived and executed album that displays a softer side to Flaten, one previously hidden. The tone is reverent and the close recording creates a feeling of church music or, appropriately, music sung in the Norwegian countryside. Flaten and Kornstad avoid stridency, allowing the exquisiteness of the melodies and their sparse arrangements to celebrate the memory of Flaten’s titular grandmother.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=32422