Daily Archives: October 16, 2009

Glide Magazine review by Doug Collette

CF 151Samuel Blaser Quartet – Pieces of Old Sky (CF 151)
Unfolding luxuriously slowly, this music of Barber’s is notable and laudable for the spaces and silence within the exquisitely detailed arrangements. He and his accompanists play  ever so carefully chosen notes with meticulous elegance. And while the sounds of trombone, guitar, bass and drums are of an almost unearthly quiet, it’s well nigh impossible not to stop and listen rather than allow it to become just background music. Music such as this requires patience to hear, but the dividends are in directly proportion to the effort–not to mention the number of notes played!

Le Son du Grisli review by Pierre Lemarchand

CF 141Lucky 7’s – Pluto Junkyard (CF 141)
De la rencontre entre des musiciens de Chicago et de la Nouvelle Orléans résulte la musique jouée par le groupe Lucky 7s. Les chicagoans (Josh Berman au cornet, Keefe Jackson au sax ténor, Jeb Bishop au trombone) empruntent les sentiers défrichés par le saxophoniste Ken Vandermark quand les orléanais (Jeff Albert au trombone, Quin Kirchner à la batterie, Matthew Golombisky à la contrebasse) prolongent l’art du batteur Ed Blackwell.

Les mélodies sont ici amplement développées, tout en sinuosité et sophistication, et les compositions, empruntes d’une certaine abstraction, se détournent des schémas classiques (thème – improvisation – thème) pour proposer des suites de mouvements distincts, aux ambiances changeantes (Afterwards). Et les changements sont tels que l’on peut vite se retrouver sur les terres du rock indépendant (The Dan Hang). Mais cette approche contemporaine et toute chicagoane se mêle joyeusement au swing pulsé par la rythmique de nos orléanais, encore ébouriffés par le vent mauvais de Katrina.

La conciliation de ces deux univers semble être incarnée par le vibraphone de Jason Adasiewicz (remarquable comme toujours), dont les notes assurent tantôt l’harmonie et le rythme, tantôt les échappées belles en des terrains plus incertains. On pourrait dire que la musique des Lucky 7s est cinématographique, dans le sens où elle développe d’amples mouvements, comme l’on cadre de grands espaces, et resserre parfois sa focale pour faire surgir des personnalités en des soli effrénés, perturbant l’apparent calme offert par des musiciens quelques secondes auparavant à l’unisson. Mais, au final, le collectif prime finalement sur les individus (ici, la notion de leader est rejetée) et la joie de jouer ensemble déborde du début à la fin de ce disque.

Free Jazz review by Stef

CF 150Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet – Things Have Got To Change (CF 159)
Marty Ehrlich is without a doubt a fantastic saxophonist, former member of Julius Hemphill’s sextet, but also a creative artist who’s been struggling to find his voice over the past decade, changing line-ups, playing around with styles and sub-styles, but always with an incredible sense of quality and high level of band members. His Dark Woods Ensemble, that originally featured Abdul Wadud, the cellist of the Hemphill band, later succeeded by Erik Friedlander, is without a doubt his most successful endeavor so far in my humble opinion.

On this album he changes the line-up again, with Pheeroan AkLaff on drums, with whom he already played on his first album in 1984. The great change is the presence of James Zollar on trumpet, a musician who is lyrical, very rooted in traditional bluesy Armstrong tones, yet equally versatile in the most modern improvisations. So far, Ehrlich always appeared to enjoy collaborating with fellow saxophone or clarinet players, such as Ben Goldberg, Stan Strickland and Tony Malaby, so the sax-trumpet front adds a new sound dimension, one that is more crisp and open-ended. At the same time, the combination of the alto with the cello adds to the lightness of the higher tonal regions, accentuated by AkLaff’s stellar cymbal work. It is – not by coincidence – the same line-up as on Julius Hemphill’s “Dogon A.D.”.

The music itself is hard to describe: it’s post-modern jazz, carefully composed and arranged, with lots of room for powerful and emotional improvisations, and possibilities to venture into more free and avant-garde areas, a whole range of jazz approaches that can even be present on one and the same track (“Song For Tomorrow”). The music is joyful as on the swinging “Dung”, dark and sad as on “From Strength To Strength”, deeply melancholy and contemplative on “Some Kind Of Prayer”, only to end with one of the most magnificent pieces of music ever written, Julius Hemphill’s “Dogon A.D.”,* the wonderfully hypnotic composition that is driven by the repetitive arco cello tones, over the mad 11/8 rhythm, with the horns finding their theme around and against the pulse. True, it is not the original, and even trying to cover it takes courage, but the performance is of a really top-notch level. As is the entire album actually. Four stellar musicians making great music. What a joy!

* If you happen to have the Hemphill original, play both versions one after the other, and you will notice the difference between superb and very good.http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/