Monthly Archives: April 2010

All About Jazz Italy review by Vincenzo Roggero

Kirk Knuffke – Amnesia Brown (CF 167)

L’idillio, musicalmente parlando, nasce all’interno della Nublu Orchestra, la formazione diretta ogni lunedì nell’omonimo locale da Lawrence Butch Morris. Knuffke, Wollesen e Wieselman scoprono più di una affinità elettiva ed il trombettista decide di incidere proprie composizioni utilizzando il talento di Wieselman, sia al clarinetto che alla chitarra, dando vita così ad una sorta di doppio trio.

E questa è la prima grande idea di Knuffke, perché a seconda dello strumento imbracciato da Weiselman la musica prende una direzione ben precisa. Cameristica, ricca di lirismo, sebbene asciutto ed essenziale, morbida, melodicamente asimmetrica, talvolta commovente quando Weiselman è alle prese con il clarinetto. Ruvida, acida, spigolosa, nevrotica, metafisica, quando a intervenire è la chitarra, un po’ rumoristica alla Arto Lindsay un po’ rockish alla Nels Cline. Ed il contrasto con il tono caldo, rotondo ma avvelenato delle tromba del leader diventa un altro valore aggiunto dell’incisione.

La seconda intuizione è l’aver frazionato i cinquantasei minuti dell’incisione in ben sedici composizioni. Non una semplice operazione matematica ma una scelta estetica ben calcolata che spinge da una parte la scrittura ad essere precisa, perfettamente centrata, dall’altra porta l’improvvisazione verso l’essenzialità, depurandola da orpelli e ricami superflui.

Il risultato è che nonostante la durata media dei brani non superi i tre minuti, l’impressione è di esecuzioni ariose, in alcuni casi dilatate con spazi e tempi che vanno ben al di là del loro valore numerico. Merito senz’altro della scrittura e della rigogliosa vena improvvisativa dei musicisti, con tante idee sul tappeto, che lungi dall’intasare lo spazio sonoro, ne costituiscono l’intima ed essenziale ragione d’essere. Se tutti e tre i musicisti sono in grande spolvero in questo Amnesia Brown, non si può non sottolineare lo straordinario drumming di Kenny Wollesen, uno dei pochi, veri innovatori della batteria moderna.

Temporay Fault review by Massimo Ricci

These pieces were initially created with the intention of providing substance for a choreography by Li Chiao-Ping, whose dancers apparently couldn’t manage to follow the material’s erratic metres well enough to actually bring the proposed collaboration to a completion. Providentially the sounds remain, and they’re refined as much as necessary to stand alone for regular CD-fuelled consumption. The leader shows a superb command of nylon strings alternating disobedient clusters, asymmetrical rasgueados, swinging impertinence and poetic linearity depending on the circumstance. The lyrical counter altar is represented by cellist Matt Turner, who often steals the spotlight with the daydreaming rigour of his beautiful tone, finely complemented by vibraphonist Robert Stright’s shimmering unselfishness. An outstanding rhythm section – Geoff Brady on percussion, John Padden on double bass – provides a pulse that is full of zip but never petulant, contributing to the dismemberment of potential lassitude – a constant peril both in jazz and any kind of music conceived for dance. Fields confirms himself to be a name to keep an eye on all the time, especially when analyzing the way in which he frequently relinquishes a role of guitar-wielding protagonist while privileging a considerable transparency in the overall design, in turn cleverly enriched by a magnificent stability in the composed/improvised ratio.

Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) 2010 Awards

2010 JJA Jazz Awards NOMINEES
Finalists for the 2010 JJA Jazz Awards honoring excellence in music-making and music documentation, nominated by 60 professional Jazz Journalists Association members. Winners in 41 categories to be announced at the Awards gala.

1. Lifetime Achievement in Jazz
Muhal Richard Abrams
Jimmy Heath
James Moody
Paul Motian
Wayne Shorter
Randy Weston

2. Musician of the Year
Dave Douglas
Vijay Iyer
Joe Lovano
Sonny Rollins
Henry Threadgill

3. Composer of the Year
Darcy James Argue
John Hollenbeck
Vijay Iyer
Steve Lehman
Maria Schneider
Henry Threadgill

4. Up & Coming Artist of the Year
Darcy James Argue
Gerald Clayton
Darius Jones
Linda Oh
Esperanza Spalding

5. Events Producer of the Year
– Todd Barkan, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center
– Jack Kleinsinger, Highlights in Jazz
–  André Menard/Alain Simard, Montreal Jazz Festival
– Brice Rosenbloom, boomBOOM Presents: Winter Jazz Fest, Brooklyn Masonic Temple, (le) Poisson Rouge
– George Wein, New Festival Productions LLC: CareFusion Jazz Festival New York, CareFusion Jazz Festival Newport, Newport Folk Festival

6. Record of the Year (CDs issued between March 1, 2009 and February 28, 2010)
– Infernal Machines, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, New Amsterdam Records
– Historicity, Vijay Iyer Trio, ACT Music
– Travail, Transformation and Flow, Steve Lehman Octet, Pi Recordings
– Folk Art, Joe Lovano, Blue Note Records
– This Brings Us To, Vol. 1, Henry Threadgill Zooid, Pi Recordings
– Esta Plena, Miguel Zenón, Marsalis Music

 7. Historical Recording, Boxed Set, or Single CD Reissue of the Year
(Note: Condensed editions of previously issued boxed sets are ineligible)
– The Complete Louis Armstrong Decca Sessions (1935-1946), Mosaic Records
– Twelve Nights in Hollywood, Ella Fitzgerald, Verve Music Group
– Without a Song: Live in Europe 1969, Freddie Hubbard, Blue Note Records
– Pieces of Jade, Scott LaFaro, Resonance Records
– Saga of the Outlaws, Charles Tyler, Nessa Records
– The Columbia Studio Trio Sessions, Denny Zeitlin, Mosaic Records

8. DVD of the Year
– 21st Century Chase, Fred Anderson, Delmark Records
– Extraordinary Life and Music of a Jazz Legend, Svend Asmussen Shanachie
– Live in Berlin & Stockholm 1968, Count Basie & His Orchestra, Impro Jazz
– Thelonious Monk: American Composer, Medici Arts
– Anita O’ Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer, AOD Productions/Elan Entertainment
– Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker, Medici Arts

9. Record Label of the Year
Blue Note Records
Clean Feed Records
Pi Recordings
Sunnyside Records

10. Female Singer of the Year
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Roberta Gambarini
Sheila Jordan
Gretchen Parlato
Cassandra Wilson

11. Male Singer of the Year
Tony Bennett
Andy Bey
Freddy Cole
Kurt Elling
Giacomo Gates
Bill Henderson 

12. Player of Instruments Rare in Jazz
Edmar Castaneda, harp
Bela Fleck, banjo
Grégoire Maret, harmonica
Scott Robinson, unusual reeds and brass
Daniel Smith, bassoon

13. Large Ensemble of the Year
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Mingus Big Band
Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

14. Arranger of the Year
Darcy James Argue
Carla Bley
John Hollenbeck
Bill Holman
Maria Schneider

15. Small Ensemble of the Year  (less than 10 pieces)
Henry Threadgill Zooid
Joe Lovano Us Five
Mostly Other People Do The Killing
Vijay Iyer Trio
Wayne Shorter Quartet

16. Trumpeter of the Year
Terence Blanchard
Dave Douglas
Tom Harrell
Wynton Marsalis
Wadada Leo Smith

17. Trombonist of the Year
Steve Davis
Robin Eubanks
Wycliffe Gordon
Roswell Rudd
Steve Turre

18. Tenor Saxophonist of the Year
Fred Anderson
Joe Lovano
Tony Malaby
Branford Marsalis
Chris Potter
Sonny Rollins

19. Alto Saxophonist of the Year
Ornette Coleman
Lee Konitz
Steve Lehman
Rudresh Mahanthappa
Miguel Zenón

20. Flutist of the Year
Jamie Baum
Holly Hoffman
Nicole Mitchell
Lew Tabackin
Frank Wess

21. Baritone Saxophonist of the Year
Hamiet Bluiett
James Carter
Ronnie Cuber
Claire Daly
Gary Smulyan

22. Soprano Saxophonist of the Year
Jane Bunnett
Dave Liebman
Branford Marsalis
Evan Parker
Wayne Shorter
Steve Wilson

23. Clarinetist of the Year
Don Byron
Evan Christopher
Anat Cohen
Eddie Daniels
Ken Peplowski

24. Guitarist of the Year
Bill Frisell
Jim Hall
Lionel Loueke
Pat Metheny
Bucky Pizzarelli

25. Pianist of the Year
Kenny Barron
Vijay Iyer
Keith Jarrett
Jason Moran
Matthew Shipp

26. Organist of the Year
Joey DeFrancesco
Larry Goldings
Dr. Lonnie Smith
Gary Versace
Sam Yahel

27. Violinist of the Year
Regina Carter
Mark Feldman
Jenny Scheinman
Billy Bang
Mark O’Connor

28. Bassist of the Year (includes Acoustic & Electric)
Ron Carter
Charlie Haden
Dave Holland
Christian McBride
John Patitucci

29. Mallet Instrumentalist of the Year
Jason Adasiewicz
Gary Burton
Stefon Harris
Joe Locke
Steve Nelson

30. Percussionist of the Year
Cyro Baptista
Hamid Drake
Zakir Hussain
Kahil El’Zabar
Bobby Sanabria
Daniel Sadownick

31. Drummer of the Year
Brian Blade
Jack DeJohnette
Roy Haynes
Paul Motian
Jeff “Tain” Watts
Matt Wilson

32. Periodical of the Year
AllAboutJazz-New York
Down Beat
Jazz Times
Signal To Noise

33. Website of the Year

34. Blog of the Year
The Gig, Nate Chinen
A Blog Supreme, Patrick Jarenwattananon
Do The Math blog and webzine, Ethan Iverson
JazzWax, Marc Myers 
Rifftides, Doug Ramsey 

35. Best Book about Jazz
– Jazz, Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux, W.W. Norton
– I Walked With Giants: The Autobiography of Jimmy Heath, Jimmy Heath and Joseph McLaren, Temple University Press
– Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, Robin D.G. Kelley, Free Press
– The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957 – 1965, Sam Stephenson, Alfred A. Knopf
– Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, Terry Teachout, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

36. Best Liner Notes
The Complete Louis Armstrong Decca Sessions (1935-1946), by Dan Morgenstern
Classic Artie Shaw Bluebird and Victor Sessions, by John McDonough

 37. Photo of the Year
 Nominees for Photo of the Year will be announced and displayed after May 1 at

38. The Helen Dance–Robert Palmer Award for Review and Feature Writing (Print and/or Online)
– David Adler: Lerterland ; JazzTimes; Philadelphia Weekly; The Philadelphia Inquirer; Time Out New York; AllAboutJazz-New York
– Nate Chinen: The New York Times; JazzTimes
– Gary Giddins: JazzTimes, Vintage magazine
– Marc Myers,  
– Doug Ramsey, Rifftides 
– Ben Ratliff, The New York Times

 39. The Willis Conover–Marian McPartland Award for Broadcasting
Josh Jackson, Host of “The Checkout,” “Live at the Village Vanguard,”, Newark
Bobby Jackson, Music Director, WCPN, Ideastream,, Cleveland
Gary Walker, Music Director, Host of “Morning Jazz,”, Newark
Jim Wilke, Host, “Jazz After Hours,” Hatchcover Productions, Seattle, distributed by Public Radio International
Linda Yohn, Music Director, weekday morning host, WEMU-FM, Ypsilanti

40. The Lona Foote–Bob Parent Award for Photography
Alan Nahigian: Down Beat, JazzTimes, Jazziz, AllAboutJazz, New York Times, Village Voice, Musica Jazz, jazz festival program books, album covers

Mitchell Seidel: Hot House, JazzTimes, Down Beat, Jazz Journal International, Swing Journal, Musica Jazz; album covers.

Herb Snitzer: Jazz — A Visual Journey, Herb Snitzer: Photographs from the Last Years of Metronome; photography editor, associate editor Metronome; Life, Look, The Saturday Evening Post, Fortune, Time, New York Times, Herald Tribune.

41. Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism
Stanley Crouch: Considering Genius: Writings on Jazz; The Artificial White Man: Essays on Authenticity; Kansas City Lighting: The Life and Times of Young Charlie Parker; Notes of a Hanging Judge: Essays and Reviews, 1979 – 1989; fiction; columnist, New York Daily News; Jazz Times, Village Voice, liner notes.
Paul deBarros: Seattle Times; newspapers in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver; Down Beat, Signal To Noise, Coda, Jazz Times; radio: NPR “Jazz Riffs”; co-founder Earshot Jazz; co-leader, JJA “Who Asked You Anyway?” critics clinics; Jackson Street After Hours, liner notes.
Don Heckman: The International Review of Music), Notes from the Left Coast ; the Los Angeles Times, Jazz Times; 1960s-’70s: The New York Times, Village Voice, Down Beat, Metronome, the Jazz Review, liner notes.
Bill Milkowski: Jazz Times, Modern Drummer, Guitar Player, Bass Player, Pulse Guitar Club (Italy), Jazzthing (Germany), Jazziz, Tower Pulse!, Down Beat, Fi magazine, Good Times (Long Island), Cityside (Milwaukee); Rockers, Jazzbos and Visionaries, Jaco: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Jaco Pastoruis, Swing It! An Annotated History of Jive, overnight dj, WWOZ (“Milkman’s Matinee”), liner notes.
W. Royal Stokes: Growing Up With Jazz; Living the Jazz Life; The Jazz Scene; Swing Era New York: The Jazz Photographs of Charles Peterson; former editor, JJA Jazz Notes and festival reviewer,; Washington Post, Jazz Times, Down Beat; radio host, “I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say. . . “, “Since Minton’s”, liner notes.

All About Jazz Italy review by Luca Vitali

Pinton – Kullhammar – Zetterberg – Nordeson – Chant (CF 156)
A Coimbra, patria del fado “accademico,” il festival jazz offre sempre una programmazione molto affine all’estetica dell’ottima etichetta portoghese Clean Feed, e in piena sintonia con il suo patron Pedro Costa. Non è la prima volta che formazioni di area svedese pubblicano per Clean Feed registrazioni live fatte al festival: accadde anche per il tenor sassofonista Fredrik Nordstrom e si ripete ora con Chant.

L’etichetta è attenta ad avanguardia e free jazz, ma come per Nordstrom così ora dà spazio a un lavoro non particolarmente ardito, dall’estetica bop. Energia e forma sono coordinate importanti, e a farsi notare è il particolare equilibrio con cui la formazione si muove tra strutture e improvvisazione, riferibili all’estetica della Blue Note degli anni ’50-’60 di chiara radice afroamericana.

Il lavoro ha avuto origine dalla proposta di Pedro Costa, fondatore della Clean Feed, ad Alberto Pinton, italiano d’origine ma svedese d’adozione, di fare qualcosa con Jonas Kullhammar, Torbjörn Zetterberg e Kjell Nordeson, già mebri dell’ottetto del bassista Torbjörn Zetterberg.

Musica in larga parte improvvisata, basata su accordi musicali ed eseguita ottimamente. L’intensità, l’interazione e l’entusiasmo sono riusciti a fare da collante viste le ottime condizioni della performance: chi assisteva aveva di fronte proprio quello che si aspettava, e i musicisti non potevano che gioire e beneficiare dell’entusiasmo del pubblico e, come si legge nelle note di copertina, sentirsi straordinariamente a proprio agio e coccolati.

Un buon lavoro con qualche sprazzo più esplorativo, ma che si basa principalmente su equilibrio e moderazione, musica e musicisti sempre molto controllati, quasi da meditazione…

Cadence Magazine review by Robert Iannapollo

Christian Lillinger Grund – First Reason (CF 142)
Clean Feed has done a lot of providing recording opportunities for people and groups whose names were hitherto unknown in the area of contemporary Jazz. One example is this release by German drummer Christian Lillinger (3). Lillinger is a new name to me but he leads a unique ensemble with two reeds and two bassists on First Reason, his debut album as a leader. The ensemble is stacked with some first rate players. ICP Orchestra’s Tobias Delius is one of the reed players, Danish bass player Jonas Westergaard is one of the bassists, and a guest on three tracks is veteran pianist Joachim Kuhn who has been a mainstay on the German (and international) Jazz scene since the 1960s. It’s good to hear him mixing it up with these young upstarts. It’s clear that Lillinger is going for something a little different by using this unusual instrumental lineup. There’s some great writing here such as on “Die Enge” where Delius and Slavin are playing an odd static theme as the two bassists ping off each other. The two basses are an integral part of the grounding of this music. At times they play in tandem or contrapuntally but frequently their parts seem to ricochet off each other. The dual bass solo at the beginning of Delius’ “The Heron” (nice to hear an alternate version to the one that was on Delius’ ICP debut disc) is one of the high points of the disc. Delius’ burly tenor is a good contrast to Slavin’s more liquid sounding alto. Lillinger drives this ensemble with a clattering energy (love his drumming on the opener “Pfranz”), that gives this music a distinct character. First Reason is an auspicious debut.
©Cadence Magazine 2010

Cadence Magazine review by Robert Iannapollo

João Paulo / Dennis Gonzalez – Scapegrace (CF 144)
The return of Dallas-based trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez (2) to a more regular recording schedule at the turn of the decade has been cause to rejoice. Clean Feed has been one of his most reliable patrons and he’s put out some excellent music for them. His latest for the label is Scape Grace, a set of duets with Portuguese pianist Joao Paolo Esteves da Silva. Although the two had never met until a few days before the session there’s clearly a simpatico vibe between them. Gonzalez is known as a trumpeter of fire and passion on many of his releases, drawing on later Bop and Free improvisation for his vocabulary. Yet what is frequently missed is a melodic core often at the center of his playing. At times there’s a spiritual dimension (harder to pinpoint but it’s there) as well. And that is what is to the fore on these duets. Da Silva is also a melodic player. There is obviously some classical study in his background but his rhythmic drive belies his commitment to Jazz. The two blend beautifully often creating swirling tonal centers hovering around each other (best heard on Gonzalez’ 3/4 piece, “Anthem For The Moment.” That’s not to say that dissonance doesn’t play a part in the proceedings. Da Silva’s harmonic palette is dense and rich and accompanies Gonzalez by feeding him harmonic material that really plays into both Gonzalez’ sense of melody and adventure. And Da Silva’s rhythmic acuity is what keeps this music moving forward. Gonzalez seals the link between the two during his solo on Da Silva’s “Duos Dancas Araicas” when he interpolates the opening motif to his own “Anthem For The Moment” and they fit into each other perfectly. Scape Grace is a wonderful set of duets by two players who seem to have a genuine feel for each other’s music. And it’s an excellent introduction to the work of either of these players.
©Cadence Magazine 2010

Cadence Magazine review by Robert Iannapollo

Daniel Levin Quartet – Live At Roulette (CF 147)
Live At Roulette is the fourth release by the Daniel Levin Quartet. The personnel of the band has gradually shifted. Initially, Dave Ballou was the trumpeter but he was replaced by Nate Wooley on the second disc. Joe Morris was bassist on the first three releases but for this recording he was replaced by Peter Bitenc. Vibes player Matt Moran and cellist Levin have been the mainstays but this group has a unique sound and they seem to have developed a level of communication that only comes with like-minded players who have an intuitive sense of what each other is doing. And that is demonstrated on this disc in spades. Previous quartet discs by Levin have focused mostly on compositions (both originals and standards by Coleman, Dolphy and others) as source material. By Blurry (2007, the third album) the band was moving toward more open, Free territory. On Live At Roulette, they present an entire set of Free improvisation. These are players who draw everything into their music and all four seem to know the extended range of their instruments as well as the natural range. Levin’s cello possesses power, agile beauty, and barbed-wire harshness. Wooley wrenches some of the most amazing sounds out of his trumpet. Yet when he plays in the instrument’s natural range he has a gorgeous tone, full and expressive. Moran’s vibes are nimble with lines darting in and out of the other instruments. He frequently toys with the sustain and vibrato on his instrument bringing out some unique textures in tandem with the others. On tracks that are titled after group members (Matt / Peter) the titular head will usually start the piece and then other members of the group fall in. The improvisations are remarkably focused and they all seem to lead in a definite direction. There are hardly any moments where the group seems to be getting their bearings. It’s hard to tell if these are extracts from longer pieces or full improvisations in and of themselves. But either way, they seem to move forward as a unit with a single-minded purpose.
©Cadence Magazine 2010

Cadence Magazine review by Grego Applegate Edwards

Luis Lopes / Adam Lane / Igal Foni – What is When (CF 146)
“What is When” is a rather exceptional guitar trio. Guitarist Luis Lopes is a new one for me and he is a player of great interest. He tends to play on the outside and alternates between a dryly electric and a high impact straight tone. Beefheartian guitarists, Sharrock in his early period and Ulmer in his outer moments are touch points in describing his style, but only as rough approximation, for he has a distinct bag. Adam Lane goes far in making this a formidable lineup. Arco or pizzicato, he makes a strong contribution with his all-over playing attack and keen sense of drama and momentum. The drummer is new to me but is very musical and capable of Free Swing-Rock inflected outness and open-timed assaults with definite taste. The pieces have good variety and nothing comes near to outwearing its welcome. Some could even have been expanded without undue wear and tear on the listening ear. Just a couple of highlights will suffice to give you an idea of the music. Take “The Siege.” It begins with bass and distorted guitar doing some original sounding, abstract but Rock fused motifs that the drums follow. Then the guitar gets out in a fanfarish, notely way while Lane’s bass blasts a distorted line that has deep resonance and the drums freely rock without a beat or pulse. This is powerful. Now Adam goes it alone with distorted chaos and really digs into it. Then back to the head while Lane flips out! “ChiChi Rides the Tiger” has a swinging head with a densely rhythmic, minor bluesy line all participate in, then a funky riff in seven and off to a guitar solo against the riff for the bass and drums. Lopes plays some nice guitar. He’s not big on chops but what he plays is right and conceptually out with Rock overtones and a dry distortion. I’d much rather hear that than just super technique for its own sake. He’s got big ears and plays out in interesting ways—with distorted chords and bends while bass and drums rock out boisterously in seven. The piece signs off with some vintage Hendrix-like feedback. The album concludes dramatically with a blazing Adam Lane in “Perched Upon An Electric Wire.” It’s Lane alone, riveting the listener with a strongly droned bass sawing. It is a stunner of an ending. This is very easy to recommend. What is When is a cornerstone release among the outside guitar trios I’ve heard of late.
©Cadence Magazine 2010

Cadence Magazine review by Jason Bivins

Trespass Trio – …was there to illuminate the night sky (CF 149)
On “…Was There to Illuminate the Night Sky” he realizes a gorgeous combination of the folkish themes EC often explores and the relative minimalism of his other interests. From the somber and quavering sounds on the opener, you know it’s a distinctive trip, borne on washes of sound from Zanussi’s groaning bass, Kuchen’s baritone, and Strid’s swells. On subsequent tunes, they seem to sound almost like their key interest is recognizing the explosive passions at the heart of the music and seeing how long they can restrain themselves from giving vent. Hear this in the slight throb and multi-directional patter of “Sad salsa,” and the furtive, skulking “Walking the Dead” (with a nice longtone, cymbal sizzle at the end). But the muscular bustle of “Zanussi times”—with lusty alto—will please with its continuously changing rhythms. On the two incendiary versions of the title track, it’s a real kick to enjoy the mix of big rubbery lines from the bassist and tight, focused incisions from Kuchen (who is as likely to alter his tone and articulation as he is to respond in lockstep to rhythmic herky-jerk). Great stuff.
©Cadence Magazine 2010

Cadence Magazine review by David Dupont

Steve Swell – Planet Dream (CF 148)
Trombonist Swell’s Planet Dream emphasizes the ensemble. Swell alternates collective improvisations with tracks based on composed themes. And though it’s completely acoustic, there’s plenty of electricity in the proceedings. These are tightly argued discussions. On “Not Necessarily This, Nor That,” cellist Daniel Levin opens with an arco statement that poses a series of questions. Swell and alto saxophonist Rob Brown enter in disputatious moods, and the discussion only grows more pointed, full of rips and snarls, until it seems to exhaust itself. Levin gets the last word. On “#2 of Nine” Brown opens by working a little two-note jump, and Swell answers with the retrograde drop. On the mournful “And Then They Wept,” the trio demonstrate how, even on a collective improvisation, they can phrase together. This session also got me thinking about the way certain turns of phrase—kind of atonal but pulling toward a tonic—start seeming familiar, due to the work of players (including Swell) to refine as well as expand the procedures of Free Jazz. The date opens with a formless passage that the ensemble slowly gives shape to.. And in the middle of Planet Dream Swell drops “Airtight,” a piece that grooves over an Afro-beat ostinato, the Free Jazzer’s equivalent of a medium tempo Blues. That’s not to say anything here sounds stale, just more predictable than maybe I’d expect. And it’s not to say there’s not much that’s fresh within the program. Swell’s searching for new approaches is shown in the closing “Texture #2” which shape shifts every couple minutes or so. Such restlessness fuels Swell and his trio in their fruitful search for new sounds.
©Cadence Magazine 2010