Daily Archives: November 16, 2009

Free Jazz review by Stef

CF 154Weightless – A Brush With Dignity (CF 154)
British saxophonist John Butcher and bassist John Edwards are two of the most prominent voices in European free improvisation. They are joined by two Italian improvisers, Alberto Braida on piano and Fabrizio Spera on drums. As with many free improvisation, forget about roles in the band: all musicians contribute in equal parts, adding sounds, interacting and creating high levels of immediate intensity. The band’s name is well chosen, as the music is somewhere suspended in the air, very sparse and devoid of a need to produce sound, free of earthly concerns, although it flows quite organically, naturally, without structure or foundation. The musicians play their limited notes and sounds with reserve, paying full attention to each of them, infusing every one of them with power. Braida can play a few keys, just enough to add to the overall atmosphere, without feeling the need to make chords, or phrases. It’s the sound that counts, and in that he finds a real soulmate in John Butcher, whose careful powerful minimalism is impressive as usual, Edwards’ versatility and creativity, both on arco and plucked is astonishing, and listen how Spera builds depth, contrast and color. Some moments are harsh, others are of an incredible subtlety and nuance. The end result is one of ethereal beauty, not easy to get into, but worth every note. http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

CF 152Charles Rumback – Two Kinds of Art Thieves (CF 152)
El batería de Chicago Charles Rumback ha publicado Two Kinds of Art Thieves acompañado por el contrabajista Jason Ajemian, y los saxofonistas Joshua Sclar y Greg Ward. Tal y como ocurre con sus carreras, la música de este estreno discográfico recoge referencias ajenas al jazz tan variadas como el post-rock y la electrónica. Aunque la formación de dos saxos, contrabajo y batería pudiera invocar otro tipo de propuestas, la música de Charles Rumback tiene un carácter impresionista en la que los músicos juegan con unos elementos que aunque en algún momento pudieran parecer insignificantes (por su volumen, por su expresividad), se transforman en los protagonisas centrales de una música llena de detalles construidos a partir de unos componentes mínimos. Otra joya más a añadir al catálogo de Clean Feed. http://www.tomajazz.com/bun/2009/11/charles-rumback-two-kinds-of-art.html

All About Jazz Italy by Enrico Bettinello

CF 150Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet – Things Have Got To Change (CF 150)
Things Have Got to Change del quartetto del sassofonista Marty Ehrlich è il secondo disco nel giro di pochi mesi, dopo il fantastico Historicity di Vijay Iyer, a contemplare nella propria scaletta un capolavoro negletto del jazz contemporaneo come “Dogon A.D.” di Julius Hemphill.

In questo caso la circostanza non dovrebbe sorprendere più di tanto, dal momento che del compianto musicista di Forth Worth, Ehrlich è stato allievo e collaboratore, nonché – dopo la prematura scomparsa di Hemphill nel 1995 – uno degli artisti più attivi [insieme a Tim Berne] nel portare avanti il progetto e l’eredità del sassofonista, alla guida dell’indimenticabile sestetto di soli sax o riprendendone alcune composizioni nel bel disco Tzadik, One Atmosphere.

L’ombra hemphilliana si estende quindi ben oltre la cover di “Dogon A.D.” e la riproposizione di due temi per quartetto mai incisi dal musicista, “Dung” e “Slices of Light”: è la stessa struttura di questo Rites Quartet, completato dalla tromba di James Zollar, dal violoncello di Erik Friedlander e dalla batteria di Pheeroan akLaff, a richiamare espressamente quel quartetto di Hemphill con Abdul Wadud al violoncello che incise l’indimenticabile disco d’esordio Dogon A.D. nel 1972.

Un’ombra che, come è facile intuire data la statura dei musicisti coinvolti, ravviva i dettagli di questo lavoro più che scurirli: la musica di Ehrlich e soci [registrata in Portogallo per la sempre ottima Clean Feed] avventurosa e lirica, trapunta da un senso blues lacerante e da ipnosi che mettono in contatto le inquietudini odierne con una spiritualità quasi ancestrale, è pervasa da una ricchezza espressiva particolarmente felice, che muove dall’urgenza collettiva per estendersi alle singole voci.

Doveroso citare il lavoro di Friedlander, che evoca atmosfere popolaresche e pennellate cameristiche, così come il guizzante fraseggio di Zollar, mentre akLaff punteggia il tutto con una funkyness dalle mille sfaccettature. Tra temi obliqui e collettivi malinconici, un disco di grande valore.

Touching Extrenes review by Massimo Ricci

Pianist (or “hyperpianist”? Hold on, please) Denman Maroney is clearly trustful in the abilities of an average mind. Trying to explain the polyrhythmic concepts that underscore the large part of this music, he says that “there are at least two and more often three tempos going; the listener is free to choose which one(s) to relate to”. Perhaps this musician is not aware of the fact that the majority of a typical audience is not even able to stay anchored to a rudimentary 4/4 with a couple of shifted accents, let alone a superimposition of composed metres. Many pathetic characters come out with various kinds of bullshit about complex mathematic “mysteries” underlying the perfection of the universe, yet they could not name an interval or an elementary beat if threatened at gunpoint. Such sorts of involuntary victims of artistic diversity are not likely to be grateful for the labyrinthine qualities of this excellent album. Hell, this group doesn’t swing, if not for an allowed minimum.

Right, the hyperpiano. Besides numerous interlocking figurations executed with concentrated investigational attitude, Maroney – who appears positively gifted with a scintillating musicality coming from the insides of his brain – frequently plays the “regular” keyboard with a hand while enjoying the pleasures of extended techniques with another, the whole enhanced by the exploitation of several objects on the strings which generate “complementary overtones that move in contrary motion, one down toward the fundamental and the other up toward infinity”. Already fantasizing in regard to enhancement of awareness and realization? Wrong: the record’s title is the contraption of “undertone identity”, a concept introduced by Harry Partch which is too complicated to tackle in a sheer review. You can still learn the definition and use it in your intellectual conversations: nobody – except a few brighter individuals – go actually checking for the truthful core of these things, otherwise a lot of sapient icons would be swallowed by the very blob of their appalling ignorance.

Let’s not digress, though: the quintet performs fabulously throughout Udentity. Ned Rothenberg (alto sax, clarinets) employs a toothsome transitoriness in the methods applied, alternating altruistic repetition bathed in cutting dissonance and interchangeable anti-patterns which dignify the entire timbral tissue. He’s perfectly corresponding to the trumpet of Dave Ballou, who on a different side of the blowing spectrum avoids any kind of hypertrophic irresponsibleness, privileging lines that – although extremely respectful of the composer’s original plan – shine for intelligent restraint. If Michael Sarin’s drumming is entirely perfect for the overall design of these creations, his sober delivery a true injunction against the smell of moth-eaten “flexibility” characterizing the bulk of jazz drummers, bassist Reuben Radding is to be admired both as a solid donor of corpulent foundations for the general structure and an extemporaneous originator of bedazzling melodic sketches in places where an arcoed elegy is probably going to lead a sensitive receiver to deeper perceptions than an innocuous “pulse”.

Just to give a vague idea of how this stuff sounds, let me tell you that those whose ear-training includes Stravinsky and Zappa should greet this CD pretty warmly. Maroney has managed to tickle our interest with complications that sound good, lively, natural, without a hint of agony. Discomposure and angst are to be found somewhere else; here, we only appreciate an outstanding collective control over a series of well-developed strategies.

Kwadratuur review by Joachim Ceulemans

CF 151SAMUEL BLASER QUARTET – Pieces of Old Sky (CF 151)
De ster van trombonist Samuel Blaser is rijzende. Met slechts enkele albums op zijn conto prijst de verzamelde jazzpers hem nu al unaniem de hoogte in. De 28-jarige Zwitser wordt hierbij niet zelden vergeleken met Albert Mangelsdorff omdat hij net zoals de Duitse trombonist gebruik maakt van multiphonics. ‘Pieces of Old Sky’ is zijn tweede album in kwartetbezetting maar kent een totaal andere lineup dan ‘7th Heaven’ uit 2008. Deze keer zijn Todd Neufeld (gitaar), Thomas Morgan (contrabas) en Tyshawn Sorey (drums) van de partij, een Amerikaans trio dat onder leiding van Sorey onlangs nog het album ‘Koan’ opnam. Op ‘Pieces of Old Sky’ verkent Blaser nieuwe muzikale terreinen maar gooit daarbij niet alle conventies overboord.

Dat de jonge Zwitser een lefgozer is zal niemand betwisten. Blaser deinsde er eerder dit jaar namelijk niet voor terug een soloalbum uit te brengen net wanneer zowat heel de jazzwereld de blik star in zijn richting hield. Ook nu stelt hij zich kwetsbaar op, met geduldig uitgewerkte composities (tot zeventien minuten lang) gebaseerd op schijnbaar eindeloos thematisch materiaal en melodische interactie. Het is moeilijk aan te duiden waar de grens tussen improvisatie en compositie wordt getrokken. Blaser en gitarist Todd Neufeld vinden elkaar echter blindelings terug op de afgesproken kruispunten waardoor thema’s uit het niets worden opgepikt maar evenwel net zo snel verdwijnen. De ritmesectie krijgt veel ruimte en onderscheidt zich door een onophoudelijke stroom van ideeën die het fragmentarisch stadium echter zelden ontgroeien. Enkel op ‘Red Hook’ gaan Thomas Morgan en Tyshawn Sorey recht op doel af, wat na acht minuten resulteert in een stomende unisono apotheose van de hele groep.

De trombone is zoals verwacht de belangrijkste stem van de vier. Blaser vult al de gaten met voortreffelijk gesoleer in alle registers waarbij hij nooit geforceerd of overbodig klinkt. Hij slalomt zich zonder problemen een weg tussen de hints van Morgan en de impliciete gitaarpartijen van Neufeld. Hierbij lijkt Sorey in eerste instantie op een eiland te zitten, maar eigenlijk is hij meer dan eens de stuwende en inspirerende kracht voor het totaalgeluid. Met telepathische accuraatheid speelt hij in op de ideeën van zijn medemuzikanten waardoor hij er af en toe in slaagt twee of drie ogenschijnlijk haakse partijen voor korte tijd in hetzelfde ployritmische web te spinnen. Enkel op ‘Choral I’ en ‘Choral II’, twee voor een groot deel doorgecomponeerde stukken, doet Sorey niet mee. Hier zijn het de scherpe, maar warme gitaarklanken en het volle trombonegeluid van Blaser die simpele maar mooie melodische miniatuurtjes tot leven brengen.

‘Pieces of Old Sky’ is een meer dan geslaagde stap in de nog prille muzikale carrière van een beloftevol trombonist, waarbij verschillende mogelijkheden worden verkend zonder een definitieve keuze te maken. De gehanteerde muzikale taal blijft nog wat vaag, maar aangezien dit album werd opgenomen in juni van 2008 is het onwaarschijnlijk dat deze plaat nog representatief is voor hetgeen Samuel Blaser tegenwoordig presteert. Het blijft dus uitkijken naar meer. http://www.kwadratuur.be/releases.php?id=5574