Daily Archives: February 17, 2010

Paris Transatlantic review by Steve Griffith

Lucky 7s – Pluto Junkyard (CF 141)
One of the more inspiring, albeit lesser known, stories related to Hurricane Katrina is the formation of the Lucky 7s. The storm’s devastation broke up trombonist Jeff Albert’s quartet, as drummer Quin Kirchner relocated to Chicago (along with his frequent musical associate, bassist Matthew Golombisky). Although Jeff stood his water-soaked ground, gigs were still nonexistent in the ravaged city, so he contacted fellow trombonist Jeb Bishop about pulling together some kindred souls from Chicago along with Quin and Matt, resulting in rehearsals and subsequent performances at The Empty Bottle and The Hungry Brain. The final night at the latter venue made up six of the seven songs on Farragut, a rollicking disc that entertained the fortunate few that were able to find it on Lakefront Digital. For those afraid the 2006 disc was just a one-off release, Pluto Junkyard marks a considerable step forward, with more tightly arranged compositions and release on a higher exposure label.

The presence of Jason Adasiewicz’s shimmery vibes and the hot tenor of Keefe Jackson gives the Lucky 7s the air of a Blue Note offering from back in the days when they were pairing fire-breathing saxophonists with Bobby Hutcherson. There’s no diminution of energy from the first release: “Future Dog” transitions from one funk riff to another, and the sonic meltdown of “The Dan Hang” marks the welcome reappearance of Bishop’s skronky guitar (and if this is truly representative of what is played at The Hungry Brain after-hours, please get some sound people there immediately). The most noticeable difference is that this release has no overtly N’Awlins-influenced music, in the manner of the second-line-ish drumming on the closing “Bucktown Special” on Farragut (the one exception, Bishop’s “Afterwards”, was actually written for the previous recording); in fact, the closing “Sunny’s Bounce” is a clear nod to the Chicago sound, written by Albert after hearing a Sun Ra Delmark recording on an iTunes shuffle (hmmmm, on a release titled Pluto…).

But the real muse of this release seems to be Bishop’s wife, Jaki Cellini: her reaction to Jeb’s promise to get her a pet provided the title of Albert’s “Future Dog,” and Bishop’s cool bopping “Jaki’s Walk” was actually their wedding’s recessional music. Here’s to the bright future of the couple as well as the Lucky 7s.

Cadence Magazien review by Phillip McNally

(1) Herculaneum – Herculaneum III (CF 140)
(2) Oliver Leicht – Raume
(3) Taylor Ho Bynum / Abraham Gomez-Delgado – Positive Catastrophe

All three of these recording are worth searching out. But then, I have to confess to a real weakness for the kind of small ensemble or little big band sound that even the 10tet Positive Catastrophe represents. For me, this size of ensemble and this sensibility continues to present some of the most creative opportunities to make exciting music in Jazz.

I’m guessing by the title “III” that this is the third recording of Herculaneum, but (1) is the first time I’ve heard them. It is a nice lineup of two brass, two reeds, with a guitar-led rhythm section, plus three of these players double on another instrument, increasing the arranger’s palette. The nine new compositions here, most of them by drummer and vibes player Dylan Ryan, come right out of the Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan school of Cool Jazz, but this is no retro ensemble. In particular, David McDonnell’s alto sax can have a loose and outside sensibility, a bit like some of Steve Coleman’s work. They are a fine band, and I will be out looking for albums II and I.

Oliver Leicht leads an 8tet called [ACHT.] on (2). It’s really a 7tet of brass and rhythm over which Leicht’s rich, woody clarinet bounces joyfully. The low end horn section is amazingly tight, and the voicings Leicht writes for French horn, euphonium, trombone, and tuba are all warm and fat. Plus the rhythm trio is lithe and fresh, swinging without a lot of flashiness. They make a nice post-Bop big band sound, inside but always interesting and never lost in long solo flights. Again those Birth of the Cool sessions come to mind, but as with (1), Leicht and company have a looser and more post Ornette sense of harmony, and that makes (2) both new and worth your time.

Finally, Positive Catastrophe is an exciting project. The co-leaders are Taylor Ho Bynum, who brings along his progressive Jazz creds, and Abraham Gomez-Delgado, whose work comes out if the progressive Latino bands scene in New York City. It might sound like an odd combination, but all these cats can play, and the results on (3) have got a bit of Microscopic 7tet in them, and a heavy dose of the fun and the complexity of Sun Ra, too. Jen Shyu has a fine alto voice, and plays the June Tyson role on all four parts of “Travels,” the band’s tribute to the Arkestra. But she sings a more straight, big band vocal on “Stillness/Life” and she plays the erhu throughout, as well. “Revamped” features her erhu with Keith Witty’s acoustic bass and Pete Fitzpatrick’s electric guitar for a sort of Lounge Lizards style string summit. The Latin touch that Gomez-Delgado and his associates bring to the music is a subtle but solid ground for the Spaceship Ho Bynum leads. There’s nothing quite like it that I’ve heard. Their roots go back to Don Cherry’s MultiKulti, and there is more than a little of all the great works on the Asian Improv label here too. But (3) got its own sound, and a beautiful one at that. I certainly hope Positive Catastrophe is no one time project, because Jazz needs a whole lot more of what these cats can bring! Go out and find it. www.cadencebuilding.com ©Cadence Magazine 2010

Free Jazz review by Stef

Kirk Knuffke – Amnesia Brown (CF 167)
I already showed my appreciation for trumpeter Kirk Knuffke before), and he keeps improving. His new album brings him in the company of Doug Wieselman on clarinet and guitar, and Kenny Wollesen on drums, both quite known from their work on Tzadik and other “downtown” bands. Knuffke’s music is hard to name: it’s composed, yet full of free improvisation. It is incredibly rhythmic, it is melodic, yet full of surprises and curious bends. It is sweet at moments, like the last track “Anne”, which is full of sentiment and love, but abrasive at others, like the last-but-one piece “Please Help, Please Give”. The switch between both extremes is often the result of which instrument Wieselman uses. His clarinet playing is full of lyricism, his guitar playing full of skronk. The alternation between both is a great idea, because it adds to the huge variation you get on the album. Wollesen’s drumming is brilliant : his rhythmic inventiveness is an absolute pleasure to hear, and by itself already worth the purchase of the album.

Knuffke’s tone is warm and subtle, full of emotional power, somewhat comparable to Dennis González, and his technical skills are excellent. He takes the most difficult parts with ease. The first track is a good example of that : “How It Goes”, starts with a great long unison theme, after which his improvisation on the theme drives it higher with strong rhythmic pulse, wonderfully accompanied by Wollesen. The compositions are short, most clocking around three minutes, which forces the musicians to be compact and to-the-point in their improvisations. The pieces are fun, clever and full of emotional power, yet also headstrong and wayward, and with more ideas in one album than you sometimes get from other musician’s entire discography. Some of the themes, like the one for the title track, or of “Leadbelly”, keep playing in your head long after you’ve stopped listening to the album, other pieces require repeated listens before you really get into them.

The album’s greatest quality is its incredible power to say a lot in a few notes. It is very creative, and it swings from beginning to end. This is one of those albums that want to keep listening to. What a joy!

All About Jazz Italy review by Vincenzo Roggero

Michael Attias – Renku in Coimbra (CF 162)
La presenza di due brani targati Lee Konitz e Jimmy Lyons non è casuale. Del primo Michael Attias possiede l’eloquio dai toni astratti del secondo l’esuberanza controllata. Volendo completare il quadro dei riferimenti potremmo dire che nel contralto di Attias si ritrovano pure la morbidezza e la nonchalance di Wayne Marsh e la logica matematica di Anthony Braxton. Insomma Attias è un sassofonista che ha assimilato appieno il linguaggio di alcuni maestri del sassofono e lo ha rielaborato in maniera originale e funzionale alla sua visione musicale.
Registrato in un pomeriggio nel 2004, durante una three-night residency del quintetto con Tony Malaby e Russ Lossing al JACC Festival, Renku in Coimbra è la classica seduta nata quasi per caso, come momento di relax tra le fatiche di un tour. Solo che quasi magicamente tutti i dettagli che concorrono alla riuscita di una registrazione sembrano andare ciascuno al proprio posto, come guidati da una mano invisibile. Ne risulta così una musica che rispecchia l’assoluto comfort dei musicisti, che suonano con grande intensità e altrettanta scioltezza, prediligono le atmosfere calde e rilassate, smussando gli angoli e spianando le asperità delle improvvisazioni che normalmente contraddistinguono le loro esibizioni.

Il lavoro di Satoshi Takeishi, impegnato spesso alle spazzole, abile nel creare sequenze stranianti con i metalli riducendo al minimo la pulsazione delle pelli, e il poderoso contrabbasso di John Hebert, autore di alcuni strepitosi interventi solistici, completano un triangolo musicale che mette in mostra un lato della personalità artistica di Michael Attias non sempre valorizzata.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

Pinton/Kullhammar/Zetterberg/Nordeson – Chant (CF 156)
Alberto Pinton (sax e clarinete), Jonas Kullhammar (sax), Torbjörn Zetterberg (contrabaixo) e Kjell Nordeson (bateria) são quatro pilares do moderno jazz escandinavo e têm abundante produção (muito recomendável) na editora sueca Moserobie. Embora participem activamente nos discos uns dos outros, nunca se tinham reunido com esta geometria precisa, sugerida pela Clean Feed.

Chant é um disco de fanfarras possuídas, riffs poderosos, saxofones engalfinhados em disputas acesas, avassaladores tsunamis rítmicos. Nem tudo é som & fúria: “Den Sotra Vantan” é recolhido e hierático, cortado por litanias dilacerantes; “Let Ring”, com Nordeson em vibrafone, é misterioso e impressionista, “Martyricon” faz lembrar os Masada na sua vertente klezmer/latin jazz.

Cadence Magazine review by Grego Applegate Edwards

Lucky 7s – Pluto Junkyard (CF 141)
The writing, the arranging, the playing and the concept of Lucky 7s must be termed brilliant. It has it all and it executes it with spirit, even joy. This is a band that should get plenty of attention.

They deserve it. Perhaps this release will go some way in providing it. Yet Bishop and Albert do not work together right now with a lot of regularity. Both are doing very good things in their own way, Albert with his own group and as a curator-performer with the Open Ears concert series in New Orleans, Bishop in Chicago and around the world with various groupings. Yet Lucky 7s is something very special, even given what they do on their own. The combination of players and material strikes lightning, if that is a phrase that works. They combine their talents in a really terrific lineup of players and–ZAP!

Both the writing and the instrumentation bring to mind the Hutcherson, McLean, Moncur, Dolphy Blue Note classics of the mid‘60s. And the all-over passage writing of George Russell also comes to mind. Neither of these influences are anything but starting points to a wholly original venture into midsized group improv. What’s impressive is the constant musical inspiration. Written parts enter, exit, enter underneath solos and so forth. There’s always something of musical interest happening and nothing sounds the least bit rote. Strong solos from all the horns and the vibes occur throughout, and Adasiewicz’s interaction with the impressive Gombisky-Kirchner rhythm section is really something to hear. I could rehearse the blow-by-blow description of each piece and what happens, but it’s just all good. I’ll leave it to your ears. We need more of this. We need people going to see this band and buying this CD. All I can do is write this review. The rest is up to others. I seriously recommend this CD to you, however. It has everything going for it that modern Jazz could offer you. Get the blanking thing and play it. I don’t imagine you’d be disappointed. I can’t see how you would be.
www.cadencebuilding.com ©Cadence Magazine 2010

All About Jazzz review by Mark Corroto

The Godforgottens – Never Forgotten, Always Remembered (CF 164)
A Scandinavian supergroup of sorts, The Godforgottens met for this recording session in 2006 and pianist Sten Sandell happened to spot a Hammond B3 organ in the corner. Having never played one before, he instantly shaped the direction and feel of this performance out of this spontaneous decision to have a go at it. The three musicians joining Sandell—trumpeter Magnus Broo, bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love—have all collaborated on various projects in the past. This combination might be the first, hopefully, of many for The Godforgottens. The three lengthy tracks—between ten and twenty minutes—crystallize from the B3, but not as the work of an American jazz/blues organ band. The sound might best be described as the imaginary meeting of Sun Ra and Miles Davis, circa 1974. The opening “Always Forgotten,” begins with a placid organ wash, providing an equable current of energy under the unwrinkled tone of Broo’s trumpet. With the entrance of Berthling’s bowed bass and Nilssen-Love’s percussion wash, The Godforgottens create a soundscape in which some very intimate improvisations can be built. The band adds tension and release within each piece as the river of sound continues on with a seemingly endless number of possibilities. Even when Sandell switches to piano mid-song, the energy sustains itself by way of Nilssen-Love and Berthling’s inexhaustible pace. By “Never Remembered,” the quartet allows the threads to unravel, opening the music up and jostling the time signature. Sandell accomplishes this by sitting out much of the time; only entering to push players in varying directions. The duo of Berthling and Nilssen-Love heard here expands the imagination, as they seem to create new sounds from their respective instruments. The nearly twenty-minute “Remembered Forgotten” ends the disc with a trumpet/drum launch. The pair sparks a pulse picked up by piano and bass before the sound spins into free-form musings. When the organ reenters (think of dark clouds overhead), the vibe turns heavy and Broo breaks out his upper register playing to push up the sky. By the end, the exhausted players return to the opening wash of the B3 sound to bring the music full circle.