Daily Archives: April 22, 2010

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 www.cadencebuilding.com

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 www.cadencebuilding.com

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 www.cadencebuilding.com

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 www.cadencebuilding.com

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 www.cadencebuilding.com

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 www.cadencebuilding.com