Daily Archives: September 14, 2010

NPR article by Lars Gotrich

Miles Beyond: The New Sounds Of Trumpet
by Lars Gotrich

No, the headline isn’t just a clever pun. Like John Coltrane and the saxophone, Miles Davis’ figure looms large over our ideas about jazz trumpet. The dulcet tones of Kind of Blue and the spaced-out blats of Bitches Brew (now available in beer form, by the way) still permeate the bells of trumpeters everywhere, and with good reason.

But there are hidden secrets in the horn, and a host of musical linguists who uncover new languages for an instrument imbued with a bop history. In fact, the Festival of New Trumpet Music brings out many of these sound explorers each year. Here are five trumpeters who reach deep inside the bells of their horns.

Of course, these are just a few examples — we didn’t even get started on cornet. Tell us some of your favorite practitioners of “new trumpet” in the comments section below.
Forbes Graham – Essences
While Miles Davis’ shadow does figure into any jazz past The Birth of Cool, Forbes Graham doesn’t ignore it. He embraces the blue note and turns it “magenta haze.” The Boston-area improviser sputters and attacks the trumpet with shark-attack notes before letting out a haunting whistled horn like a meditative Don Cherry, or a gruffled stutter like a duck being strangled. Essences, then, plays well with the musical-yet-noisy percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, who knows the history of his instruments but also understands where they should go.

Peter Evans Quartet – Live in Lisbon (CF 173)
Solo, Peter Evans is hypnotic. Without the aid of looping pedals or even a microphone, he layers furious notes in a cloud and threatens a lightning strike. In groups, Evans expands the same tactic throughout the band and many approaches to jazz. On an otherwise jumpy Live in Lisbon, “Palimpsest” is a ballad viewed from the inside-out, expanding outward without exploding. It’s subtle, and it only represents a segment of Evans’ talent.

Kris Tiner
Empty Cage Quartet – Gravity (CF 161)
While most of the trumpeters listed here develop much of their musical vocabulary in a solo setting, the California-based Kris Tiner feeds off the energy of others with his compositions. The Empty Cage Quartet, in particular, is a thoroughly modern and multifaceted jazz ensemble that stakes out a singular voice. Listen to to the funky “Gravity: Section 4” and notice Tiner’s seemingly off-centered timing and his spiraling call and response with saxophonist Jason Mears. For Tiner, his trumpet technique is part of the bigger piece, a function to the whole.

Nate WooleyAlbum: Trumpet/Amplifier
Nate Wooley doesn’t play trumpet as much he plays on the trumpet. Through valve clicks, intense breathing and anything-but-notes sound, Wooley improvises on the physical object that is the trumpet. In turn, a new language gurgles forth, sometimes hurled through a volume pedal and controlled feedback as heard on Side B of the Trumpet/Amplifier LP. His approach makes Wooley bedfellows with lowercase musicians like David Grubbs, as well as free-improvisers like guitarist Mary Halvorson and bassist Reuben Radding in Crackleknob. But he always remains on the fringe of it all.

Toshinori Kondo – Silent Melodies
If the names Peter Brotzmann, John Zorn and Fred Frith mean anything to you, then you might expect a solo release from Toshinori Kondo to claw through the speakers. While Kondo has done his fair share of extreme improv with those musicians and others, the Japanese trumpeter turns his ears toward ambient expression in a solo context. Kondo’s recordings are lush, expansive soundscapes more in touch with ambient legend Harold Budd than Bill Dixon’s spaced-out improv, but are still rooted in jazz improvisation. After all, every track on Silent Melodies was performed in one take, no overdubs, just pure thought funneling out of delay pedals.

All About Jazz review by Clifford Allen

At one point in time, the term “European Improvisation” meant something quite specific, carrying with it an air of otherness to American jazz audiences, solidarity to European jazz audiences, and presented rarified and sometimes unruly music based on folk, classical and open forms. In the ensuing decades, the world has grown a bit smaller, and intercontinental meetings and aesthetic mergers are commonplace, so much so that “European Improvisation” doesn’t quite mean what it once did. Certainly, the history remains and significant figures like pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach, saxophonist Evan Parker, reedman Peter Brotzmann and many others remain quite active on the international performing and recording scene.

Urs Leimgruber and Evan Parker – Twine (CF 194)
Twine presents the duo of Swiss saxophonist Urs Leimgruber and English saxophonist Evan Parker on three improvised pieces for soprano and tenor, and while they’ve worked together previously this is their first recording as an unaccompanied pair. Though by the late 1970s it would seem that the two saxophonists’ work was extraordinarily divergent—Leimgruber’s playing was in the Afro-Near-Eastern free jazz group OM and Parker was firmly entrenched in non- idiomatic improvisation—yet both find a leaping-off point in John Coltrane and thus Twine is a place where conversation can begin and be expanded upon.

The title track, at 25 minutes, finds both players on tenor and while there is divergence in their respective sounds, the husky pilings of phrase and long lines of Parker meeting Leimgruber’s flintier charge perfectly complement one another. The recording doesn’t separate them strictly by channel, thankfully, allowing their sounds and phrases to merge and part with a demarked room-like sensibility and a natural unity.

At the disc’s start, Parker unfurls laconic phrases, eddying in tendrils that gradually shorten their spatial plane into condensed, crisp chordal pilings in response to the sharp staccato digs of Leimgruber’s shorter-distance runner. Thick, gritty honks are ornamented by wistful upturns and circular-breathed lines until both sputter in excitable dialogue, each elaborating on the other’s interpretation of vocabulary. Parker and Leimgruber are probably both better known as soprano saxophonists, merging the possibilities of a higher-pitched straight horn tonality and the depth of parsed chords with a bio-acoustical sensibility.

“Twirl” finds the pair wheeling in the wind, creaking and building a series of calls into whittling repetition, Leimgruber’s micro-view seemingly chipping away at a larger whole, while Parker more slowly and with significant detail encircles an already open expanse. It’s interesting to hear Parker past the point of revision—not to say he’s “comfortable,” but in this context he puts forth, quite simply, who he is and what he does, a la Ben Webster or Sidney Bechet. Complemented and abetted by Leimgruber’s methodical ornament, Twine is a beautiful disc.

Jazztimes review by Josef Woodard

Kris Davis/Ingrid Laubrock/Tyshawn Sorey – Paradoxical Frog (CF 183)
While the commanding drummer Tyshawn Sorey has been known for his mathematical and muscular intensity in settings with Steve Coleman, Fieldwork, Steve Lehman and other groups, he also boasts a fascinating free sensibility, as heard on this intriguing trio date. Lines and musical sympathies converge beautifully in this group, between the flexible German-born saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, Canadian-born pianist Kris Davis and Sorey, who provides the musical glue and summons proper degrees of abandon, restraint and ensemble-minded structural articulation.

With Laubrock’s gentle-to-feverish title cut up front (its name referring to the actual, incredible “shrinking frog”), the trio nicely sets the stage for what’s to come. In the longest track on the album, Sorey’s 14-minute “Slow Burn,” Laubrock and Sorey weave in and out of dynamic levels over the hypnotic, elongated gridlike pattern of Davis’ left-hand bassline. “Ghost Machine” has a nattering cadence, nervous yet hip, and “On the Six” blends Laubrock’s angular long-toned ruminations, Sorey’s rumbling mallet work and Davis’ cluster-chord punctuations.

The final piece, a tribute to Morton Feldman simply titled “Feldman,” has some of the cool, pregnant airiness of that acclaimed experimentalist’s music, with melodic lines meandering and setting up false resolutions on the path to further adventures. Sorey’s empathic trio presents a colorful and convincing example of post-free jazz, mixing intricate rhythmic notions, introspective musings and moments of cathartic release. More, please.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Angles’ “Epileptical West” for Some Significant Ensemble Jazz

Angles – Epileptical West Live in Coimbra (CF 182)
Angles and their recent Epileptical West (Clean Feed 182) live record exemplify what a fully realized ensemble vision can do for the new music scene. Angles at this juncture is a six-man outfit. Altoist Martin Kuchen wrote the pieces in this set. The band as a whole crafted the arrangements. That band includes Mattias Stahl on vibes, Magnus Broo, trumpet, Mats Aleklint, trombone, Kjell Nordeson, drums, and Johan Berthling on the acoustic bass.

This is joyously boisterous music. The ensemble plays with a kind of boundless enthusiasm that one all-to-seldom hears today. Listen to “Pygmi” and its adaptation of the pygmy vocal style to the ensemble. It’s a freely articulated full-throttle groove with convincing solos by the horns. It has that classic Art Ensemble/Archie Shepp/Sunny Murray inspired abandon, and it is not untypical of what you get on this fine release.

And like the ensembles/artists mentioned above, they can take on something like a kind of funk and transform it entirely into a freely conjoined blastout. Each of the horns gives out with strong solos, the vibraphonist is a centrifugal-centripetal force in keeping the music spinning (while also doing interesting solo work himself) and drummer Nordeson keep the spirit-level elevated with over-the-top bashing. Berthling’s bass solidly pins down the bottom of the sound.

It is ultimately the sheer power of the band as ensemble that puts this recording into orbit.

Here’s a band I would go see with a feeling of happy expectation. I can’t always say that. The recording translates perfectly well the sort of energy a live outing quite obviously brings out in the band. Wow. What a nice thing this band is! Highly recommended.

Luís Lopes interview at Bodyspace by Nuno Catarino

Photo by Cristina Cortez