Monthly Archives: September 2009

Reminder for the CF Fest NY IV

Hope to see you all there !!!

Jazztimes review by Susan Frances

CF 151Samuel Blaser Quartet – Pieces Of Old Sky (CF 151)
Trombonist/composer Samuel Blaser tells in a recent press release, “I’m proof that a shiny trombone can send a message right to your heart and change your life.” His efforts with his quartet on Pieces Of Old Sky show the many moods that the trombone can depict from the sorrowful groans in the title track to the vaunting sprints in “Red Hook.” Joining Blaser on the recording are guitarist Todd Neufeld, bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey who twine their lines affectionately around Blaser’s sprawling notes. Each track consists of multiple movements creating dynamic shifts and curves along the chord progressions that change the perspective of the trombone.

The emotive strokes sketched by Blaser’s trombone produce poignant punctuations and steep fluctuations in the melodic currents and shift the conditions of the harmonies becoming quite obtuse and angular in sections of “Red Hook” and fluid in “Chorale II.” The languid gait of the trombone in “Chorale I” projects a dismal mood, which peps up slightly along the slippery slopes of “Mystical Circle.” The heaviness of the trombone’s notes chisel voluminous vibrations resonating along “Mandata,” and satiny quivers sauntering across “Speed Game.” The album closes with the buttery strokes of “Chorale II” producing serene atmospherics and pacifying tones folding into each other.

Blaser’s quartet shows a mild manner and thoughtfulness for each other’s lines that is inspiring. Swiss-born Samuel Blaser displays an insightful understanding of the many moods that the trombone is capable of projecting making it a tool for jazz music in a way that no other instrument is unable to do.

EJazz news review by Glenn Astarita

CF 143Transit – Quadrologues (CF 143)
The second offering by this New York City based quartet is largely assembled upon an abundance of intriguing tonal contrasts, where progressive and free-jazz translucently merge into a coherent group-centric sound. Designed with layers, and climactic theme building maneuvers, the hornists’ generate soaring and frenetic phrasings atop levitating motifs, tinged with minimalist exchanges and weaving lines.

They transmit an emotive gait that touches your senses in various ways and means. At times, alto saxophonist Seth Misterka and trumpeter Nate Wooley render haunting sub-plots, driven home by drummer Jeff Arnal’s rolling tom patterns. Yet the musicians temper the flows via soft overtones, and a few concise nods to world music. No doubt, this is not a one-dimensional outfit.

With bustling metrics and spiraling horns, the musicians also plunge into a bit of crash and burn fare on the avant-jazz romp titled “Meeting Ground,” where Misterka’s popping notes, communicate a sense of urgency. Otherwise, the respective performers are well-known within global jazz and improvisation circles due to their extensive solo and group-led discographies. Hence, the synergy here becomes evident early on and further evidenced by the whirling ostinato and circular passages executed on the memorable “Speaking In Tongues.” In sum, it’s an entertainingly divergent and persuasive string of musical events.

All About Jazz feature by Andrey Henkin

John Hebert

John Hebert is the answer to the sad trivia question, Who is the last bassist to play with pianist Andrew Hill? That final performance came on Mar. 29th, 2007 at Trinity Church in downtown Manhattan in a trio with drummer Eric McPherson; Hill would die just over three weeks later. For the New Orleans-born Hebert, being part of the bass lineage of Hill, a pantheon that has included Richard Davis, Ron Carter, Reggie Workman and even Hebert’s teacher from William Paterson University, Rufus Reid, was “a life-altering thing. I didn’t want to play any other music but that because it totally built my confidence and made me stronger as a musician. Because he never said, ‘Do this, you need to play like this.’ It seemed that whatever I was doing was cool and it felt right.” Hebert admits to not being totally immersed in Hill’s music before the first call for a gig at the 2001 JazzBaltica Festival. But right away, Hebert describes the experience in lofty terms: “It was liberating to play and being validated in a sense of how I was approaching music or how I was hearing music, hearing the bass and my way of thinking of how it should be played. …And then more gigs came and he just kept calling and I was like, ‘hell yeah, let me do these gigs.'” From 2003 until his death, Hebert was Hill’s regular sideman, a description that belies the equal partnership that Hill demanded from his musicians, and recorded on the pianist’s critically-acclaimed second return to the Blue Note label, Time Lines (with McPherson, reedplayer Greg Tardy and trumpeter Charles Tolliver). Though Hebert has been ubiquitous in New York in a number of ensembles since the turn of the century, his time with Hill was instructive in a way musicians can’t get from playing solely with their peers. “It was a great sort of school for me to go to,” Hebert says. “Having that mentorship, if you want to call it that, doesn’t exist as much to me anymore, someone from the generation that can bring you into their language, their world and you sort of grow and develop with them and they sort of help you along in that way.” And since that experience, Hebert feels that his performing opportunities are a direct result of people wanting his particular approach to the instrument. Speaking of those that employ him, Hebert says, “I’m hoping they know what I’m going to do. I don’t really curb what I’m doing for a particular gig. I’m always trying to be myself and play the way I play, to a certain extent. I still want to make everyone else sound good but I try not to compromise musicianship for that.” Hebert also credits Hill for another important point in his development, the assurance to become a leader. Just released, and being celebrated this month, is the bassist’s debut album Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12). It features his compositions as played by a group of empathetic musicians of long standing: saxists Michae Attias and Tony Malaby with Adam Kolker on flute and bass clarinet for four of ten tunes, and a pair of drummers, Nasheet Waits and Satoshi Takeishi, who plays percussion on the date. When asked if he would have done a record before his time with Hill, Hebert responds frankly: “I would have been too scared though I was making records as a sideman back then. It felt right. I had been writing music, I had done a few gigs on my own in town… It maybe came out with [Hebert’s wife] Lo Jen saying, ‘why can’t you do your own gigs?’ or maybe even Andrew said it, ‘You should be leading your own band.’ …Talk about no fear; no one can say shit to you when it’s your band. …It’s your music, you know how it’s supposed to go.” Hebert, despite his burgeoning pedigree, is still developing himself as a musician. He observes: “I’m always trying to listen back and think what am I doing or how can I change that and try different things out. So that’s always a struggle. But I think anyone finding their voice comes from playing, just experience. …So it’s a matter of hooking up the right situation and being with people that you vibrate with and that’s going to bring out what you do naturally.”

For Hebert, the group on Byzantine Monkey is a perfect example of the above dynamic. All the players come from what Hebert describes as “a very large ensemble that breaks off into factions and you fit yourself in somehow.” He first met Waits on that initial Andrew Hill gig. Attias and Takeishi are the remaining two-thirds of Renku. Hebert has played on Kolker’s last two albums. Hebert and Malaby are in Attias’ group Twines of Colesion. Remarkably, considering the full schedules of all involved, booking the studio time was nailed on the first attempt: “It all just fell into place. I booked two days in the studio and everyone was in town. I mean for these cats that are on the record, to get everyone in the same place at the same time was an act of god.” And to this already secure environment, Hebert added the lessons he learned from Hill. “I’m pretty loose when it comes to playing my music. Just count it off and see what happens. …I trust that the cats in the band will interpret it in the way that would be musical.”

Hebert has another recording to be released in February, a trio with pianist Benoit Delbecq and drummer Gerald Cleaver. But the bassist is not making a transition into full-time leadership, knowing full well that few performers can survive today’s market under those circumstances. But he is very encouraged by his first foray. “You see that as possible. You get that first thing out of the way, okay now I see that it is possible to do and it can be rewarding, emotionally or whatever, so think about doing more things. …It gives you something to shoot for within your own musical spectrum. So you have something to write for. That really is very important, writing your own music and getting your voice across and being heard.”

Time Out Chicago review by Areif Sless-Kitain

CF 140Herculaneum – Herculaneum III (CF 140)
While many Chicago improvisers work in a number of outfits, Herculaneum’s Dylan Ryan is one of few locals to straddle the jazz and rock worlds. Two other acts the percussionist keeps time with—Icy Demons and Michael Columbia—are testament to his prowess, but with this vehicle, Ryan’s calling the shots, as on the fantastic new Herculaneum III.

The recent addition of Nate Lepine on flute adds an ethereal quality to the postbop proceedings. Familiar for his work in Cursive and Manishevitz, Lepine joins a powerful front line of trumpeter Patrick Newbery, trombonist Nick Broste and Ryan’s longtime collaborator David McDonnell on reeds—a tight-knit group whose colorful voicings light up any pub.

Whereas Herculaneum’s second album, Orange Blossom, revisited the elegant voicings and sprite improvisations found on countless albums on Blue Note and Prestige in the late ’50s and early ’60s, the thunderous III is far less easily categorized. The group swings through Afro-Cuban grooves (“The Sparrow”) and scales down to a small combo for moody dispatches like “Lavender Panther.” Ryan’s vibes work glows. These tightly coiled arrangements are free in spirit, if not in practice, held together by sturdy bassist Greg Danek. A collective focus drives Ryan’s band; no one’s in it to show off.

Tonight’s gig welcomes back McDonnell, who recently relocated to Cincinnati to pursue a doctorate. Already missed on the local circuit, he’s promised to return on occasion. His fleeting presence is bound to bring an added sense of urgency.

Gapplegate review by Greco Edwards

CF 149Trespass – Was There to Illuminate the Night Sky (CF 149)
The Trespass Trio Combine Conscience with Creative Fire

The Trespass Trio. Three creative souls joined in the common endeavor of musical expression. It’s Martin Kuchen on alto and baritone saxes, Per Zanussi on the acoustic bass, and Raymond Strid on percussion. They have a new CD, . . . was there to illuminate the night sky. . . (Clean Feed). It’s a good one.

Judging from Mr. Kuchen’s rather movingly poetic liner notes, this is a kind of meditation on the horrors of war and the violence in our world today. There are quiet moments. There are blazing improvisations. Everybody cooks freely. No note is superfluous.

It is yet another great example of Clean Feed’s musical mission. They look for the best of the new improvisations and they generally find it. Certainly they do here.

Dutch Jazzmagazine review by Henning Bolte

CF 127The Flatlands Collective – Maatjes (CF 127)
*** ½
Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Lissabon en (herinnerd) Amsterdam. The Flatlands Collective is de groep van saxofonist Jorrit Dijkstra die zelf in Boston resideert. Dijkstra heeft al weer een tijdje dit zesmans-kollektief als working band met bekende spelers uit de Chicago-scene waaronder Jeb Bishop en Fred Lohberg-Holm die zijn composities speelt en vrij improviseert. Clean Feed is een interessant en zeer actief label uit Lissabon, gevestigd vlak bij de Cais do Sodré in de Rua do Alecrim  aan de rand van de wijk Chiado. In de winkel Trem Azul (de blauwe tram rijdt er langs) vinden ook concerten plaats. Zo ontstaat een net waarin de negen haringen van dit album terecht gekomen zijn. Dijkstra haalt zijn inspiratie uit schilderijen van Vermeer, het platte Hollands landschap, symfonische misthoorns in San Francisco, Westcoast minimal music en het druilerige Hollandse weer. Grappig genoeg is Druil een zeer geagiteerd en drijvend Mingusachtig stuk waarin een paar etherische druilige vlagen hangen. Dijkstra heeft een voorliefde voor deze waterige klankvlaktes en brengt die in velerlei variaties ten gehore. Het kollektief is een laboratorium waar nieuwe klanken uitgevonden en beproefd worden, fraaie heldere lijnen doorkruist worden door vreemde klankgevaartes en aangespoeld spul. Alle elementen komen mooi samen in het drijvende en huppelende Maatjes 2 en in de bijna koraalachtig cirkelende Scirocco Song.

Dijkstra heeft dit jaar de Northsea compositieopdracht gekregen. Vrijdag 10 juli speelt hij zijn compositie op het Rotterdamse festival met een Amerikaans-Nederlandse groep (met o.a. tenorist Tony Malaby).

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

CF 146Lopes/Lane/Foni – What is When (CF 146)
Este power trio une as malhas insólitas e as sonoridades avinagradas da guitarra do português Luís Lopes ao vigor do contrabaixo (por vezes com distorção) do norte-americano Adam Lane e à bateria hiperactiva do israelita Igal Foni, que assoma nos lugares e tempos mais inesperados.
What Is When cruza a liberdade do jazz com a emoção à flor da pele e rudeza do rock e nunca solidifica em fórmulas consabidas. Os pontos altos são “Melodic 8”, planante e hipnótico, e “Chichi Rides the Tiger”, um tema de Lane que ameaça converter-se num clássico e que nesta encarnação arranca em toada jazz rock e aumenta de temperatura até se incendiar num frenesim sonoro free punk.
O CD fecha com “Perched Upon a Electric Wire”, um abrasivo solo de contrabaixo com arco.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

CF 142Christian Lillinger – First Reason (CF 142)
Grund (solo, chão) é o nome deste grupo do baterista alemão Christian Lillinger e tem razão de ser, pois encontra-se bem alicerçado nos dois contrabaixos de Jonas Westergaard e Robert Landfermann. Sobre eles evoluem os saxofones e clarinetes de Wanja Slavin e Tobias Delius e, em três temas, o piano do veterano Jochim Kühn. Não é por acaso que Kühn apadrinha este disco (e emprega Lillinger no seu trio): é que aos tenros 25 anos do baterista correspondem uma maturidade e uma versatilidade composicional invulgares.
Ao vendaval de “Pfranz” sucede-se o solene coral para sopros e arcos de “Felarbeit” e o workshop de bateria emoldurado por contrabaixos com arco “Grund I”. E isto são só os primeiros três temas do primeiro disco – há muito a esperar deste rapaz.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

CF 149Trespass Trio – …Was There to Illuminate the Night Sky… (CF 149)
Every Woman is a Tree do sexteto Angles não deixava dúvidas quanto ao comprometimento político do seu líder, o saxofonista Martin Küchen. Este trio, com os sobredotados Per Zanussi (contrabaixo) e Raymond Strid (bateria), reafirma com veemência as convicções de Küchen. O título é retirado de declarações de um general norte-americano sobre o uso de bombas de fósforo em Falluja, no Iraque – Pessoa diria talvez que as bombas de fósforo são tão belas como a Vénus de Milo, o que falta é um general capaz de o perceber.
O trio responde às bombas com lamentações de sax sobre oscilação hipnótica de contrabaixo e rumores percussivos (“The indispensable warlords”), elegias dilacerantes e convulsivas (o tema-título) e descargas de pura fúria (Strid comes”).