Monthly Archives: August 2009

Clean Feed Fest IV in New York

Wednesday, september 16th
8:00 – Luis Lopes / Daniel Levin / Reuben Radding
Luis Lopes – guitar
Daniel Levin – cello
Reuben Radding – double bass

9:30 – Harris Eisenstadt “Canada Day”
Nate Wooley – trumpet
Ellery Eskelin – tenor saxophone
Chris Dingman – vibraphone
Eivind Opsvik – double bass
Harris Eisenstadt – drums, compositions

Thursday, september 17th
8:00 – John O’Gallagher Trio “Dirty Hands”
John O’Gallagher – alto saxophone
Masa Kamaguchi – double bass
Jeff Williams – drums

9:30 – Daniel Levin Quartet “Live at Roulette”
Daniel Levin – cello
Matt Moran – vibraphone
Peter Bitenc– double bass
Nate Wooley – trumpet

Friday, september 18th
8:00 – Julio Resende Group
Julio Resende – piano
Dave Ambrosio – double bass
Joel Silva – drums

9:30 – Jorrit Dijkstra Solo
Jorrit Djikstra – alto saxophone, lyricon, electronics

10:30 – Avram Fefer Trio “Ritual”
Avram Fefer – tenor and alto saxophones, clarinet
Eric Revis – double bass
Chad Taylor – drums

Saturday, september 19th – Co-sponsored by the Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT)
8:00 – Kirk Knuffke Quartet “Big Wig”
Kirk Knuffke – trumpet
Brian Drye – trombone
Reuben Radding – double bass
Jeff Davis – drums

9:30 – Darren Johnston “The Edge of the Forest”
Darren Johnston – trumpet
Sheldon Brown – tenor
Oscar Noriega – clarinet and bass clarinet
Trevor Dunn – double bass
Ches Smith – drums

Sunday, september 20th
8:00 – Charles Rumback Quartet “Two Kinds of Art Thieves”
Charles Rumback – drums
Jason Ajemian – bass
Joshua Sclar – tenor saxophone
Greg Ward – alto saxophone

9:30 – Fight the Big Bull “All is Gladness in the Kingdom”
Steven Bernstein – trumpet
Bob Miller – trumpet
Bryan Hooten – trombone
Reggie Pace – trombone
Jason Scott – tenor saxophone, clarinet
John Lilley – tenor saxophone
Matthew White – guitar, tunes
Cameron Ralston – bass
Brian Jones – percussion
Pinson Chanselle – trap set

Tickets at the door
$15,00 for two sets

Clean Feed 1
Clean Feed Fest NY IV at Cornelia Connelly Center
(220 East 4th street, Lower East Side)

Gapplegate review by Greco Edwards

CF 148Steve Swell – Planet Dream (CF 148)
Steve Swell, an Important Trombonist and Leader with a New CD

Following his very interesting Magical Listening Hour (Cadence Jazz), trombonist, composer and bandleader Steve Swell returns to the fray with a trio (including Rob Brown on alto sax and Daniel Levin on cello) that continues in the chamber format. The CD, Planet Dream (Clean Feed), in a sense takes up where Listening Hour leaves off, with spontaneous three-way improvisations. The addition of Steve’s lively compositional material and the denser, more contrapuntal texture gives the session a somewhat different sound, however.

Brown and Levin turn in good work and contrast nicely with Swell’s burrish, airborne bone. Both compositionally and as one of the foremost new jazz trombonists active today, Steve Swell never gives anything but his best. If there were a clunker CD trade-in deal out there, I doubt if anything Steve has done would qualify.

Planet Dream manages to combine sensitive free interplay with the excitement and drive of historically more widely disseminated styles of jazz. It’s one of the reasons we should look to Swell in the coming years as one of the handful of important musical leaders to emerge full-blown (no pun intended).

Chicago Reader listing by Peter Margasak

CF 152Critic’s Choice Recommended The List (Music) All Ages
Charles Rumback Quartet 
When: Sat., Aug. 15, 10 p.m.
Price: Donation requested
An exceptional musician with a knack for adapting selflessly to the needs of a wide variety of bands, drummer Charles Rumback plays in a slew of local jazz and rock combos, including the Horse’s Ha, Via Tania, L’altra, Colorlist, and Leaves. He favors understatement, devoting himself to supporting his partners with steady rhythm and shifting color. He’s finally releasing his first recording as a leader, the forthcoming trio date Two Kinds of Art Thieves (Clean Feed), and though he’s responsible for all the composed material and is clearly directing the proceedings from behind his kit—even on the carefully measured group improvisations that make up about a third of the album—he never hogs the spotlight. Fortunately saxophonists Greg Ward and Joshua Sclar seem to pick up on Rumback’s humility, and don’t simply flatten him with unrestrained blowing. They often improvise simultaneously, and because there’s usually no bassist (former Chicagoan Jason Ajemian guests on just two tracks), they have a lot of freedom to experiment harmonically. But instead of sounding like they’re working out some sort of eggheaded music-theory exercise, they seem to be pair dancing, meticulously shadowing and caressing each other’s tuneful postbop gestures—and the drummer holds everything together, content to play precisely what’s needed and no more. For this show Rumback will be joined by Sclar, bass clarinetist Jason Stein, and bassist Matt Lux.

Chicago Reader listing by Bill Meyer

DARREN JOHNSTON On Wednesday, Bay Area trumpeter Darren Johnston will lead a band of locals through tunes from his swell new album, The Edge of the Forest (Clean Feed). Tonight he’ll demonstrate his versatility in a freely improvised set with bassist Jason Roebke and Nate McBride. They’ll play first, followed by Mind vs. Target, aka guitarist Shane Perlowin, bassist Joe Burkett, and drummer Michael Libramento. 10 PM, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, 773-935-2118, donation requested. —Bill Meyer

wednesday12 DARREN JOHNSTON Darren Johnston is a consummately versatile trumpeter who sounds just as comfortable wrapping grainy ribbons of sound around a funk groove as he does steering perfectly pitched bop phrases through a landscape of swing or Latin beats. He’s recorded New Orleans-style parade music and Angolan protest songs with the United Brassworkers Front and free improvisations with Fred Frith and Larry Ochs, but it’s his original compositions, which both challenge and reward his sidemen with their elaborate rhythmic and harmonic settings, that make his new album, The Edge of the Forest (Clean Feed), so great. On “Broken,” Johnston uses the aforementioned combination of coarse blowing and heavy grooves to set up a series of thrilling contrapuntal exchanges with clarinetist Ben Goldberg and tenor saxophonist Sheldon Brown, then resolves with a fearsomely intricate but immaculately executed unison coda. Tonight he’ll lead four local players—trombonist Jeb Bishop, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Frank Rosaly—through two sets that will include material from The Edge of the Forest. McBride will DJ before and after. See also

Gapplegate Music review by Greco Edwards

CF 142Christian Lillinger GRUND – First Reason (CF 142)

Christian Lillinger, Eurojazz at its Finest
Lest anyone doubt that Europe has become a center for important Jazz, we have the example of drummer-composer Christian Lillinger and his first album Grund (Clean Feed). The group includes two bassists (Westergaard and Ladfermann), two reeds (Delius and Slavin), Lilinger’s drums and several appearances by legendary pianist Joachim Kuhn.

This is the kind of music where the compositions and arrangements are at least equal to the solo time. Much good is made of the two-bass/drums rhythm section, which crackles, swings, tumbles and rumbles along as the ground (Grund) for what is built on top. The top consists of very interesting horn lines and some very solid solo work. It is free music but very much a disciplined approach to it. What is most impressive about the outing is the variety and sheer creativity of the pieces. There is an original voice at work and Mr. Lillinger has it.

Jazzword review by Ken Waxman

CF 145Avram Fefer Trio – Ritual (CF 145)
Tony Bevan/Chris Corsano/Dominic Lash – Monster Club (Foghorn)
Keune-Schneider-Krämer – No Comment (FMP)

Pedants who classify Free Music according to countries or areas of origin will likely be flummoxed by this trio of saxophone-bass-drums sessions from the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany. While each is striking, not one traffics in the clichés associated with regionally based sounds.

British improvisation, for instance, is often described as “insect music”, made up of miniscule, understated gestures and sounds. Monster Club – note the in-your-face title – is anything but that. Lead by reedist Tony Bevan, who has collaborated as much with pioneering Free Jazz drummer Sunny Murray as Free Music forefather guitarist Derek Bailey, the sounds on the CD’s four tracks are often rip-snorting and riotous. Part of this may be attributed to Bevan’s young associates. Oxford-based bassist Dominic Lash not only works regularly with lower-case improvisers such as violinist Angharad Davies, but also with outgoing North Americans like cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and percussionist Harris Eisenstadt. Uncompromising saxophonist Paul Flaherty is a frequent playing partner for drummer Chris Corsano, part of the Sunburned Hand of Man avant-rock band.

Unlike the expected bellicose and shrieking interface pigeonholers associate with German Free Jazz, the Keune-Schneider-Krämer trio seems to take part of its orientation from the shaded timbre-stretching of classic U.K. Free Music. Tellingly, two of the band members’ closest associates are British: saxophonist Stefan Keune with guitarist John Russell and bassist Hans Schneider with cornetist Mark Charig. The bassist was also affiliated with pianist Georg Gräwe, as was drummer Achim Krämer. No Comment isn’t insect music either, however. There are enough spicatto lines, split tone and snare drum strokes to add a touch of mammalian interplay to the sounds. But the resulting mercurial blasts are tempered with restraint.

So too is the music of American multi-reedman Avram Fefer, who has played and lived in both Europe and the U.S. A duo partner of pianist Bobby Few, Fefer’s helpmates here are bassist Eric Revis, who oddly enough works regularly with mainstream saxophonist Branford Marsalis; and drummer Chad Taylor, a member of the Chicago Underground bands who has played with people as varied as multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore, guitarist Marc Ribot and saxophonist Fred Anderson.

To be more descriptive, Monster Club ’s most forceful performance is the 38-minute “This is Murder”. Beginning with almost off-mike sul ponticello strokes from Lash and leveraging drum head recoils from Corsano, it expands as Bevan blasts Bronx cheers, unearthly werewolf-like wails and subterranean slurs from his bass saxophone, settling the chromatic action into an adagio tempo. After parrying sideswipes from the bassist, Bevan moves the tempo to andante with a series of snorts that precede wriggling split tones and reed-biting stops. Fortissimo his largo timbres operating in double counterpoint with Lash’s strummed arpeggios as Corsano multiples his pardiddles, pops and ratamacues. As his sheets of sounds unroll with multiphonic theme variations, the saxophonist’s guttural yowls resonate and reflect back onto themselves, at least until Lash recreates the original head.

None of the other tunes maintain this fortissimo intensity for such an extended period, but the cumulative effect of the three-part interface is staggering. However, among Corsano’s flams, rebounds and rolls, Lash’s boiling sprawls and plucks plus Bevan’s spectrofluction, glossolalia, reed bites and guttural pumps, a satisfying concurrence is attained. Apparent too is the band’s distinctive originality.

Similarly Fefer’s aural trio essay manages an attachment to both the pre- and the post-Free Jazz tradition. As a matter of fact, the top of “Club Foot”, featuring Fefer’s curvaceous soprano saxophone line and Taylor’s tambourine-enhanced strokes, sounds like a variant on “Night in Tunisia”. In between episodes of triple-tonguing timbral variations from the reed man, who could be playing a musette, Revis’ solid resonation and Taylor’s press rolls and bass drum smacks lead to a set of phraseology variations from Fefer than to a higher-pitched recap of the head.

This parallel strategy is apparent in other tines such as “Feb. 13th” and “Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing” as each trio member adds something unique to the improvisations. The former for instance, with Fefer on tenor saxophone, approximates a balladic mode. Thick, connective bass lines plus cymbal slaps and rim shots confidentially frame the reedist’s honks as well as his double-and-triple tongued extensions and key pops.

“Sheep” on the other hand, features smoothly vibrated flutters from Fefer using a juicy, lyrical tone. Additional reed heft arises when he blows his alto and tenor saxophones simultaneously. Untangling the lines as he blows – with reed-biting forays into the altissimo range – Fefer builds to a climax of sharp, staccato notes that fade into Revis’ straight-ahead walking and Taylor’s back beat clip clops.

Although the German trio here functions as democratically as the other two, Krämer’s percussion forays give it a distinctive feel. Many times his mallet-on-metal resonations sound as if they’re reverberating from a gong or bell tree rather than from conventional cymbals.

Similarly, Schneider eschews walking about 90 per cent of the time, preferring to make his points with arched sul tasto lines, scrubbing sul ponticello extensions and double-stopped and double-pumped emphasis. A track like “Details” for example, depends on the bassist’s abrasive string-scrubbing and strongman-like swipes, as the drummer replicates a creaking door hinge and the saxophonist puffs out squeals, singular reed bites and spetrofluctuation.

“Rough Edges” – which provides a succinct description of most of the tracks on No Comment – finds Keune on baritone saxophone, mixing strident cries and bell-muted, chalumeau snorts. At times he could be playing duets with himself. Meanwhile Krämer accelerates his thwacks and snaps with flams, drags and ruffs, allowing the reedist free range to busy himself with Brötzmann-like slap-tonguing and overblowing.

Interconnected, the three sonically sum up their philosophy, with a noticeable level of concordance on “Rapid Movement”, the CD’s final track. Krämer pings his cymbals and pops his drum tops so they resemble conga drums; and Schneider vibrates tremolo sul tasto patterns. Meanwhile Keune’s vocalized overblowing reaches such a state of timbre-straining that the fear arises that he will push himself into squeaking solipsism. Just in the nick of time, Krämer’s rattling and rebounds bring the reedist back into the orbit of the other two’s lines and all reach a trembling, abrasive climax.

Geographic divisions are pushed to one side on these CDs, as each trio produces outstanding work.

All About Jazz review by David Adler

CF 138Tony Malaby – Paloma Recio (New World Records)
Paul Dunmall – Ancient and Future Airs (CF 138)

Paloma Recio (“loud dove”), the debut of saxophonist Tony Malaby’s quartet of the same name, is marked by the ghostly sonorities and harmonic wiles of guitarist Ben Monder, plus the flexible support of bassist Eivind Opsvik and drummer Nasheet Waits. Together, the four sound like ships navigating intrepidly in the fog of night—an aesthetic that contrasts vividly with Ancient and Future Airs by Paul Dunmall’s Sun Quartet, featuring Malaby, bassist Mark Helias and drummer/vibraphonist Kevin Norton.

We’ve come to know Malaby as at home in a wide variety of settings as both a leader and collaborator. Paloma Recio is another adventurous and well-paced set, poised on the knife’s edge between structured composition and free improvisation.

Following the quick, rolling, African-tinged rhythm of “Obambo” and the balladic rubato motion of “Lucedes,” “Alechinsky” is an extended abstraction conceived through a graphic score. “Hidden,” “Boludos” and “Puppets,” three short improvised pieces, are then laid out consecutively, leading into the woozy, evocative “Sonoita”. The final three cuts unfold via seamless segues into something more architectural, beginning with “Loud Dove,” easing into “Third Mystery” and closing with a muted, reverent treatment of Frederic Mompou’s “Música Callada” (“silent music”). The first movement of this 28-part classical work is titled “Angelico,” which leads one to wonder whether Malaby chose it to honor his wife, pianist-composer Angelica Sanchez. In any case, it’s a solemn and stately finish. Monder adapts the original solo-piano harmony into something typically dense and unsettling.

Mark Helias does bass duty on Ancient and Future Airs, drawing on a rapport he and Malaby have developed in the trio Open Loose. Of greater interest, of course, is Malaby’s interaction with fellow saxist Paul Dunmall, an iconic English improviser and in many ways Malaby’s artistic forebearers.

Two days after his appearance at the 2008 Vision Festival with Andrew Cyrille and Henry Grimes, Dunmall assembled the Sun Quartet at New York’s Living Theater for this live recording. They stretch for over 47 minutes on “Ancient Airs” and follow it with the eight-minute addendum “Future Airs”. The improvisations are fairly no-holds-barred, yet there’s ebb and flow and a certain delicacy, particularly during the vibraphone passages, which begin and end the first piece. Dunmall, in the right channel, has a steelier, more even sound on tenor; his bagpipes solo just after the 26-minute mark shifts the timbral emphasis remarkably. Malaby, mixed in the center on tenor and soprano, is more guttural, evoking cracks and imperfections and a curious vulnerability. Far from mimicking or taking a back seat to the more experienced Dunmall, he asserts the very strengths that have made him a banner name in his own right.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

CF 145Avram Fefer – Ritual (CF 145)
El saxofonista y clarinetista bajo Avram Fefer (1965) comenzó su carrera en los años 90, aunque no publicó sus primeros discos como líder hasta el inicio de la década siguiente. Ritual es su primera grabación en trío con el contrabajista Eric Revis y el batería Chad Taylor, con quienes comenzó a trabajar a mediados de los años noventa. En esta grabación de 2008, en la que Fefer se erige en protagonista casi absoluto, el trío se mueve en una estética free-bop. A pesar de las limitaciones que impone una formación tan reducida, en la que Taylor y Revis no tienen demasiado espacio para el lucimiento personal en forma de solos y en la que Fefer está omnipresente, la variedad de referencias que se van sucediendo en las composiciones, que salvo tres son obra de Fefer, logran que el interés se mantenga a lo largo de los nueve temas. “Testament” es un tema en el que el referente es el mismísimo Albert Ayler. El swingueante “Shepp In Wolves’ Clothing”, que ya apareciera en Shades Of The Muse, está dedicado a Archie Shepp. En este tema se puede disfrutar de Fefer soplando varios instrumentos a la vez. Por su parte “Club Foot” hace referencia en la melodía a Wayne Shorter (¿adivinan a qué composición?), mientras que la rítmica le apoya con una base funk. Fefer también hace uso de elementos de la música africana, en un tema que está estructurado alrededor de las magníficas intervenciones en solitario (especialmente la de Taylor) de cada uno de los tres músicos. En “When The Spirit Moves You” Fefer emplea el clarinete bajo, mientras que en el desarrollo y las improvisaciones del tema aparecen referencias al jazz modal. “Feb. 13th” es la ocasión para una balada preciosa, mientras que “Ripple” es un tema que comienza tranquilo para ir alcanzando progresivamente una intensidad notable. Entre estas composiciones de Fefer hay espacio para tres temas improvisados por el trío (el tiempo medio “Ritual”, “Blinky” y “Outspike” que da la impresión de ser una improvisación de la que se ha eliminado el inicio), que son de largo los menos interesantes del disco.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

CF 135Who Trio – Less is More (CF 135)
El propio Gerry Hemingway lo comentaba en la entrevista con Rogelio Pereira publicada en el número 26 de Oro Molido: “Pienso que este CD es una auténtica obra maestra, y un cénit verdadero en la evolución de este gran trío. … Esta grabación tiene un extraordinario sentido del espacio”. La grabación en cuestión es Less Is More, publicada por Clean Feed a principios de 2009. En ella el veterano batería y percusionista aparece acompañado por el pianista Michel Wintsch y el contrabajista Bänz Oestër.

Con más de cien grabaciones publicadas, Less Is More es uno de los puntos cumbres del catálogo de Clean Feed. La música de este CD está efectivamente llena de espacios. Su inicio con los casi veinte minutos de “Inside The Glade” (compuesta por el trío) y “Still Alone” (obra del pianista Michel Wintsch) muestra dos temas de una belleza escalofriante, capaces de absorber al oyente y trasladarlo a un estado de contemplación atemporal. Por el contrario, “The Pump” es una pieza nerviosa y entrecortada que establece el contrapunto ideal entre ese inicio estático y los quince minutos de “Wedding Suite”, con un inicio lleno de tranquilidad y belleza que a su vez es extraño y turbador. Las tres piezas finales (“Stardance”, “Hasna” y la sobresaliente “The Eastern Corner”, que muestra por momentos a los tres músicos utilizando sus instrumentos de un modo poco ortodoxo), son tres muestras magníficas de trabajo en grupo, con unos temas que se van construyendo poco a poco y que están basados en la escucha atenta entre los tres músicos.

Less Is More: otra joya más a añadir al catálogo de Clean Feed.