Daily Archives: November 23, 2009

Courrier Magazine review by Christian Steulet

Samuel Blaser Quartet – Pieces of old Sky (CF 151)

Horizons nostalgiques
Samuel Blaser est un musicien pressé, un globe-trotter qui ne manque aucune occasion de mettre en musique de nouvelles idées et de nouvelles rencontres. Passionné de fanfare à ses débuts, il suit une formation classique et jazz avant de jouer dans de nombreux big bands, puis de se perfectionner à New York. Depuis son installation à Berlin, métropole à la vie musicale tout aussi foisonnante, il signe ses premiers disques en duo, en solo et en quartette, passant en revue dans son jeu toute la tradition du trombone jazz. Ce don d’ubiquité ne ternit pas le propos, car Blaser sait faire parler son instrument dans un style personnel. Il affectionne une approche différenciée du trombone dans les compositions et dans le jeu collectif. Sur ce disque, la prédilection va aux trames ouvertes qui invitent les protagonistes du groupe – le guitariste Todd Neufeld, le bassiste Thomas Morgan et le batteur Tyshawn Sorey – à improviser des tableaux impressionnistes. Les sept «pièces de vieux ciel», mémoires pastel des horizons de son enfance à La Chaux-de-Fonds, constituent aussi le point de départ d’une tournée européenne avec un nouveau quartette qui accueille l’excellent guitariste Marc Ducret.

Jazz and Blues review by Tim

Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157)
A patriotic album that doesn’t resort to brash jingoism… how refreshing! Drummer and composer Harris Eisenstadt has become a mainstay of the growing Brooklyn scene, while performing as a leader and a sideman around the world. Along with Eisenstadt are: Nate Wooley on trumpet, Matt Bauder on tenor saxophone, Chris Dingman on vibraphone and Eivind Opsvik on bass. Opening with “Don’t Gild the Lilly,” they strike a medium tempo with probing vibes and horns blowing across the musical landscape of vibes, bass and drums. Wolley takes a pinched sounding solo over rolling drum accompaniment that is fascinating in its own right. Bass begins “Halifax” with a mellow feel, adding saxophone and drums to the mix. Vibes enter and shimmer along the edges of the open and spacious music. “After an Outdoor Bath” is one of the finest performances on the album, opening with some strong full band playing, Bauder steps up with a deep, visceral tenor saxophone solo followed by sputtering spitfire trumpet. great shifting drum work anchors this exciting and exploratory performance. “And When To Come Back” slows things down a little bit with light percussion and soft vibes laying the groundwork for the tempered horns floating over the proceedings. After a lengthy bass solo, the full group returns to improvise and then close the song. “Kategeeper” and “Ups and Down” have a more rapid pace and plenty of room for the horns to stretch out and improvise impressively. It’s a burden to lay on any group, but the music on this album reminded me of Eric Dolphy’s masterpiece Out To Lunch more than anything else. The angular nature of the Eisenstadt’s compositions, and the sparkling addition by Dingman’s vibes made me think of the great inside/outside music recorded by the likes of Dolphy, Sam River and Bobby Hutcherson for Blue Note in the early to mid 1960’s. It’s heavy company, but well deserved. http://jazzandblues.blogspot.com/2009/11/harris-eisenstadt-canada-day-clean-feed.html

Blogcritics review by Jordan Richardson

Samuel Blaser Quartet – Pieces of Old Sky (CF 151)
Born in Switzerland, Samuel Blaser lived in the heart of Swiss watch-making country. The town he was born in, La Chaux-de-Fonds, was also a vibrant jazz community and housed a pair of expatriate American jazz legends in Kenny Clarke and Sidney Bechet.

It stands to reason, then, that Pieces of Old Sky would embody both the meticulousness of Swiss watch-making and the free form jazz of living in a musical community.

The Samuel Blaser Quartet, one of many groups of which Blaser is an active member, features Blaser’s measured trombone skills alongside the guitar of Todd Neufeld, the double bass of Thomas Morgan, and the drums of Tyshawn Sorey.

Still in his twenties, Blaser’s skill as bandleader is surprisingly mature and represents a sense of timing and poise that few musicians hold. His playing is creative and measured, infused with poise and the natural ability to mesh seamlessly with the other performers.

Pieces of Old Sky demonstrates the quartet’s clever and calm mastery of their craft. It is filled with moments of stunning volatility and moving precision, allowing each member to showcase his art with accents and splashes of musical colour. Through it all, Blaser remains both the centre and foundation of the record through his thrilling playing.

Measured playing is the order of the day on the album’s opening track, the lush and extensive “Pieces of Old Sky.” Clocking in at 17 minutes, the title track is delicate, soft and meaningful. It serves as the perfect elegant introduction to the players in the quartet, as each member softly makes an entrance over Sorey’s deep percussion and Morgan’s atmospheric bass.

“Red Hook” shifts things in somewhat of a different direction. Blaser’s trombone moves through the tricky arrangement eloquently, but it’s Neufeld’s guitar that stands out as he punches the notes and adds glowing texture.

Other tracks make great use out of the communication between bandmates, such as the well-paced “Mandala.” The interplay is astonishing, as it relies on hushed, open spaces more than filled boxes of composition. “Mandala” is a track best exemplified by its lack of force in that it allows the quartet the time and space to move cleanly and clearly through a subtle piece of work.

Pieces of Old Sky is a haunting and exhilarating collection of work from the Samuel Blaser Quartet. Exemplifying the attention to detail and carriage of the leader while honouring the traditional skill of each individual player, this is a jazz record that respects the silence and stillness as much as it respects the driving heartiness of well-played jazz.

Publico review by Nuno Catarino

Nobuyasu Furuya Trio  – Bendowa (CF 159)
O japonês Nobuyasu Furuya, actualmente a viver entre Berlim e Lisboa, tem feito furor nos concertos pela chama incendiária do seu saxofone tenor: ao vivo é capaz de rugidos intensíssimos, capazes de assustar fãs de noise. Mas a arte do palhetista – Furuya toca saxofone tenor, clarinete baixo e flautas – não se resume à ferocidade; além de dominar diferentes instrumentos, o japonês utiliza uma variedade de diferentes técnicas. Acompanhado por uma dupla rítmica portuguesa, Hernâni Faustino no contrabaixo e Gabriel Ferrandini na bateria, tem neste trio uma plataforma segura para explorar um jazz aberto com ascendência no “free” e ligação directa a Peter Brötzmann – e que nos momentos extremos se aproxima da fúria de um Kaoru Abe. Mas é simultaneamente capaz de uma irrepreensível contenção “zen”, especialmente quando se aplica na flauta em delicados murmúrios. Neste álbum, “Bendowa”, homenagem a um monge do século XIII, o japonês tem o apoio inteligente de uma dupla lusa que não se limita a um papel de background: complementa e interage, reage e provoca. Ferrandini é talento bruto em ascensão (aqui está vibrante e atento) e Faustino tem uma performance especialmente rica, servindo-se do contrabaixo com criatividade.