Daily Archives: December 6, 2010

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Adam Lane Returns with a Rather Stunning “Ashcan Rantings”

Adam Lane Full Throttle Orchestra – Ashcan Rantings (CF 203)
Adam Lane is not only one of the superb bassists of his generation, he is also a formidable composer and bandleader. The latest edition of the large Full Throttle Orchestra and the new 2-CD set Ashcan Rantings (Clean Feed 203) shows all of this in abundance. Full Throttle is a kind of mini-big band with seven horns, bass and drums. Nate Wooley and Taylor Ho Bynam on trumpets and reedmen Avram Fefer-Matt Bauder are probably the best known of the lot, but everybody plays an important role in the proceedings.

Basically the music on this fine set has an out-front Lane as the effectively weighty anchor for all that transpires. There are wonderfully voiced horn lines, spirited ventures into straight-eight, swing, balladic choral, and freetime feels and arrangements that set off and balance the solos in a near-perfect symbiosis.

Everyone clicks, everything works and Mr. Lane gives us an album that exemplifies what contemporary jazz is all about when it’s done right: it’s in turn exciting, accomplished and both well-conceived and in-the-moment. If you buy only ten jazz albums this year, this might well be one you should include on your list.

Geoffrey Himes’ Best of 2010 list (JJA)

1. Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green: Apex (Pi)
2. Jason Moran: Ten (Blue Note)
3. Bill Frisell: Beautiful Dreamers (Savoy Jazz)
4. Ralph Towner/Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro (ECM)
5. Cyrus Chestnut: Journeys (Jazz Legacy)
6. Guillermo Klein: Domador de Huellas (Sunnyside)
7. Dave Douglas & Keystone: Spark of Being (Greenleaf)
8. Jason Robinson and Anthony Davis: Cerulean Landscape (Clean Feed)
9. Vijay Iyer: Solo (ACT)
10. SFJazz Collective: Live 2010 (SFJazz)
11. Antonio Sanchez: Live in New York (CamJazz)

12. Julian Arguelles Trio: Ground Rush (Clean Feed)
13. Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (Pi)
14. The Dave Holland Octet: Pathways (Dare2)
15. Matthew Shipp: 4D (Thirsty Ear)
16. Michael Formanek: The Rub and Spare Change (ECM)
17. Ralph Alessi: Cognitive Dissonance (CamJazz)
18. Junko Onishi: Baroque (Verve)
19. Randy Weston and his African Rhythms Sextet: The Storyteller (Motema)
20. Jean-Michel Pilc: True Story (Dreyfus)

Jazzword review by Ken Waxman

Eric Boeren Quartet – Song for Tracy the Turtle – Live in Brugge 2004 (CF 186)Translating a profound appreciation for alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman’s 1960s quartet music into something more, Dutch cornetist Eric Boeren expands the structures so the performances reflect the Zunder Zee as much as the Texas Panhandle. Playing both his own tunes and Coleman’s, the brass man also calls on his sidemen’s skills to create more than a Coleman ghost band.

In actuality, since Michael Moore’s clarinet playing seems more personal than his alto saxophone solos, blending the straight horn with Boeren’s cornet produces a sound closer to that of two other Texans – reedist John Carter and cornetist Bobby Bradford – then that of the legendary Coleman Four.

Of course Carter was a long-time friend of Coleman’s and Bradford was part of the alto saxophonist’s band in the early 1970s. Furthermore, over the years, Coleman has adapted his quirky compositions to varied situations, and Ulicoten-born Boeren follows this lead. Each quartet members is sympathetically cooperative as well as suffiently virtuosic. Bassist Wilbert de Joode, for instance, has worked with players as different as pianist Michel Braam and saxophonist Frank Gratkowski. Californian-turned Amsterdamer Moore leads Available Jelly and is in the ICP Orchestra. Boeren gigs with Jelly and Braam’s large groups among many others; and drummer Paul Lovens – pinch-hitting for Han Bennink – has been a Free Music activist since the 1970s playing with everyone from bassist Joëlle Léandre to saxophonist Evan Parker.

Prime example of this skill-blending occurs on the final “Squirrel Feet/The Legend of Bebop” which blends a Coleman and a Boeren tune. Balanced on de Joode’s methodically bowed then plucked strings, the vamping horns recall Bop as much as the New Thing. Following an interlude with Moore expanding the jerky theme with air rasps, the transition section is subtly harmonized. Fluttering contralto saxophone and plunger brass triplets are backed by rattles, pops and jumps from Lovens, plus snaps and dips from the bassist. Finally the child-like Coleman line is smeared away with closely-paced snaps and dips from de Joode and an off-kilter call-and-response horn part.

Instructively enough, the most Coleman-like piece is “Free”, which is ostensibly a free improv but replicates the 1961 Coleman Quartet sound to a T. Boeren plays what could a bugle call charge; Moore offers up multiphonic flutter-tonguing; de Joode picks and plucks and Lovens smacks, ruffs and flams. The tune directly follows Boeren’s own “Charmes” which also has Calvary charge brass inferences as well as tongue-fluttering. Any turns towards legato are nipped later as Moore squeaks stridently and extends slurs while the cornetist bubbles and blasts.

This lyrical vs. atonal tension is maintained throughout the CD. Even the title tune meanders from an uncomplicated muted intermezzo with melodic cornet lines and Moore sounding as if he’s playing a variant on “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” to tauter passages. Here the diminishing wispy timbres from Boeren and Moore’s tremolo wiggles are kept afloat by Lovens’ rolls and de Joode’s walking to link with the backbeat-driven tune, “A Fuzzphony”.

Overall the quartet members pull off the difficult task of honoring a revered elder’s music without losing track of their own identities that have been assiduously honed over the years.

The New York Times review by Nate Chinen

A Melting Pot of All Kinds of Rhythms, Harmonies and Vamps

Harris Eisenstadt, a drummer and composer originally from Toronto, takes a fixer’s approach to music making, looking for ways to fit the pieces together. He works along jazz’s progressive fringe but doesn’t generally set out to make a ruckus. In his own music especially, he often seems intent on extracting consonance from dissonance or forging ungainliness into grace.

His most recent album, “Woodblock Prints” (No Business), presents a prepossessing take on chamber jazz, with a lineup that includes bassoon, French horn, electric guitar, tuba and trombone. He applies the same creative standard to a more conventionally shaped quintet, Canada Day, which released its self-titled debut last year and is scheduled to record a follow-up this weekend. Mr. Eisenstadt brought the band to the Cornelia Street Café on Monday night, playing music that will presumably end up on that release.

The first set opened with a coordinated spasm. Mr. Eisenstadt and his rhythm-section partners, the vibraphonist Chris Dingman and the bassist Eivind Opsvik, locked into an odd-metered vamp, while the tenor saxophonist Matt Bauder floated long tones above. Against this off-center but stable foundation, the trumpeter Nate Wooley improvised in breathy blurts, a dark graffiti scrawl. It was abstract expressionism, but the tune, “To See/Tootie,” never sealed itself off, inviting engagement instead.

This was partly a matter of texture. Mr. Eisenstadt played with a keen ear for it, creating a breadth of sound with his drums and cymbals, but at the lowest necessary threshold of volume. And Mr. Dingman, the harmonic center of the band, voiced even oblique chords with a crushed-velvet touch, letting them resonate softly in the room. The hollow sound of Mr. Opsvik’s bass furthered an impression of warmth, as did the tone of Mr. Bauder’s tenor (shadowy, rounded) and the timbre of Mr. Wooley’s horn (matte finish, no-glare).

The compositions often involved some rhythmic sleight of hand: in “To Eh,” a skittering double-time beat over an angular bass line, suggesting two simultaneous tempos; in “To Be,” a melody oscillating between eighth notes and eighth-note triplets, giving the impression of a shift in gears.

But there was also plenty of harmonic action embedded in the tunes. “To Seventeen” had trumpet and saxophone pushing forward in intertwining strands, their lines periodically connecting to suggest an evocative chord.

And in the set closer — “Song for Owen,” dedicated to Mr. Eisenstadt’s son — the front line shared a quirky melody in octaves, over a light midtempo swing. The song was closer to normative post-bop than anything preceding it in the set, but its harmonies didn’t resolve quite the way you would expect, leaving the impression of a lullaby left to warp on a dashboard, or viewed through a distorting lens. And yet the band gave it a sense of proportion and finesse, leaving nothing out of place.