Daily Archives: January 4, 2011

All About Jazz-New York Best of 2010 List

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All About Jazz-New York review by Stuart Broomer

Stephan Crump/James Carney – Echo Run Pry  (CF 199)
The duo of string bass and piano can look like a mismatch, the piano casually covering the pitch rangeof an orchestra with a keyboard that facilitates chords, counterpoint and rapid lines with less effort than any other acoustic instrument. The bass, by contrast, requires substantial effort to play with much dexterity at all. Since the Duke Ellington/Jimmy Blanton duets, however, pianists and bassists have been finding different ways to talk to each other musically. The approach taken by bassist Stephan Crump and pianist James Carney on Echo Run Pry is different again, more a slow unfolding of possibilities and a search for a common language. The two were playing together for the first time as a duo when Crump decided to record the 2008 meeting and the results reward repeated listening, each trip through the CD getting closer to the remarkable level of listening that seems to have taken place between them. The disc is divided between two long improvisations – “Rodeo Gwen” and “Mood Genre” – and each has a strongly organic form. There’s very little sense of conscious choice going on in the evolution of voices, rather a kind of inevitability, as if Carney’s move from the keyboard to the piano’s interior is an unconscious act, as if Crump’s bow appears in his hand without forethought or decision. Everything seems not dictated but ordained, in a lyrical movement of the highest level. You don’t get overwhelming virtuosity here but the sense of individual voices, the degree of empathy creating a fluid, linear, conversational form.

All About Jazz-New York review by Andrey Henkin

Joe Hertenstein / Thomas Heberer / Pascal Niggenkemper – HNH (CF 205)
At first blush, this debut album from Hertenstein, Niggenkemper and Heberer (sounding more like a German law firm than an avant garde jazz trio) has an obvious antecedent: Manfred Schoof’s New Jazz Trio of the early ‘70s. Not only does it share instrumentation (trumpet, bass and drums) but it also reminds us that at one point MPS Records was the Clean Feed of its day, releasing progressive music from both sides of the Atlantic. And both groups hail from the lovely city of Köln and are/were more interested in the improvisatory possibilities opened up by composition than some of their free-jazz crazed countrymen. Only one piece here is totally improvised, or at least its crediting to the entire trio implies as much. The rest are penned by drummer Joe Hertenstein, trumpeter Thomas Heberer or the pair in tandem. The former’s writing style is more boppish while the latter is an adherent to the open school of fellows like Axel Dörner but both have elements of the other’s approach as well, a wonderful expression of synergy. The seven pieces flow with barely any pauses and alternate between composers, maintaining the presumed intent of the album: to sound like a set-long free improv without actually being one. Heberer keeps his quarter-tone trumpet technique generally pure, without only the occasional purr or whoosh included for heft. Hertenstein practices that loose time-keeping soprevalent in Europe that the ignorant use to claim that an entire continent can’t swing. And Niggenkemper, of both French and German background, is equal parts Beb Guérin and Buschi Niebergall, oozing between the cracks offered by his trio mates. Despite being a German trio recording for a Portuguese label, HNH formed in Brooklyn. And now they’re being reviewed by a Russian. If that isn’t an expression of the international nature of jazz, I don’tknow what is.

All About Jazz-New York review by Lynn Horton

Daniel Levin Quartet – Organic Modernism (CF 212)
Truly a record for a thinking person, Organic Modernism by cellist Daniel Levin’s quartet is thick with innuendo. Levin uses the sound of ‘modernism’, given birth to in the ‘50s, as the hub of the recording’s evolution. A definite rhythm and instrumentation defines modern jazz musically, but modernism also signified other cultural developments in art, architecture, design, science and literature, all to which this recording refers. Levin composed five of the pieces; he and his band of trumpeter Nate Wooley, vibist Matt Moran and bassist Peter Bitenc improvised the remaining seven. Levin is one of the outstanding cellists working inthe vanguard arena. His individual playing display intense isolated sonic instances, linked together with a dynamic, which does not necessarily pulsate, but upholds innovative means to create abstract configurations. This recording is structured like that; in the first cut, “Action Painting”, the whole band engages in stating the record’s sensibility. Slipping into 4/4 pizzicato occasionally, Bitenc highlights that recyclable modernistic texture. The vibes too have a resurging grip on modernist tendencies, but the album is intrinsically a stunning showcase for how jazz music has developed, can be interwoven into past tempos and melodic lines and still make listenable sense, as in “My Kind of Poetry”,“Old School” or “Audacity”. The musicians have the chance to blossom in duo settings: Moran with Bitenc in “Kaleidoscope”; Wooley with Bitenc in “Furniture as Sculpture”; Wooley with Levin on “Expert Set” or Levin with Bitenc, introducing “My Kind of Poetry”. As a foursome, these musicians interact with crystal line clarity and are responsible for and responsive to sparkling sound sensations. Ending the recording are cascades of diamond-like phrases, exhaled by Wooley’s breath and swept up with Levin’s staccato strokes.

All About Jazz-New York review by Stuart Broomer

Hugo Carvalhais – Nebulosa (CF 201)
Thanks to the very active Clean Feed and Creative Sources labels, Portuguese free jazz and improvising musicians have developed an international presence in the past decade. The more mainstream side of Portuguese jazz is less well known abroad, thoughlately the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos, resident in the city of Porto, has raised its profile in recordings with Lee Konitz, Chris Cheek and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Here bassist Hugo Carvalhais presents another facet of Portuguese jazz, leading a trio with pianist-synth player Gabriel Pinto and drummer Mario Costa. It’s a debut for the young band, but they demonstrate a distinct identity, further developingand testing it in company with alto saxophonist Tim Berne, present on six of the ten tracks and most of them ovements of the title suite. The group’s appetite for space is immediately apparent in “Intro”, isolated drum beats, bass thumps and piano chords somehow articulating the most minimalist and attenuated Latin beat. As the CD develops the group shows affinities with Maiden Voyage-era Herbie Hancock, a taste for broad consonant intervals and hanging resonance, though always pared down, whether it’s Pinto’shanging chords or Carvalhais’ warmly tuneful bass. The fundamentally architectural style may seem like an odd fit for the emotive intensity of Berne, with his alto tone rapidly moving from acid to sweet and his vocabulary of coruscating runs and sudden asides, but it’s that encounter that creates some of the greatest interest here. Together the cool sense of distance and insistent heat create fractures and openings in the music’s surface, through which something freshemerges. The trio’s concluding “Redemption” is a moment of profound and moving reflection, the ultimate achievement of its spare lyricism.

All About Jazz-New York review by Matthew Miller

Angelica Sanchez – A Little House (CF 206)
“Some kinds of music are best listened to alone and without distractions,” writes Carla Bley in a brief, but glowing endorsement included on the inner jacket of this astonishing performance. “I would place this very personal solo piano album in that category.” From the first thunderous notes of “Chantico”, the foreboding opener that blends prepared piano effects, blistering lines and ear-stretching chord clusters, it’s hard not to agree with Bley’s assessment. Sanchez brings a focused intensity to her improvisations and here that intensity is channeled with grace and precision through 13 singular performances. Improvisations like “Stretched” and “Crawl Space” are studies in episodic, spontaneous composition that range from simple melodies to pointillistic atonality. Throughout these tunes and on equally daring pieces like the insistent and polyrhythmic “Up And Over”, Sanchez displays both a dazzling technique and a single-minded commitment to clarity and structure. This approach carries over with the pianist’s forays into extended techniques and search for newtonal colors. Throughout the title track, Sanchez doesn’t hesitate to reach into the piano to pluck or stretch a string or transition a line to a toy piano in mid-improvisation. Like everything on this thrilling album, these displays of extended technique demand committed listening, but also richly reward it with moments of transcendent beauty. As rigorous as many of the improvisations are, it is also the moments of quiet levity that make this album truly shine. From the original “Glow”, a ballad that sounds almost Ellingtonian in its grandeur and impressionistic melodicism, to the brilliant reworkingof Hank Thompson’s country anthem, “I’ll Sign MyHeart Away”, it’s clear that the leader’s views on composition carry over into her role as producer, just as it’s clear that A Little House is an artistic high-watermark for Sanchez.

Time Out Lisbon Interview by Jose Carlos Fernandes

A barreira dos 200
Há três anos a Time Out entrevistou Pedro Costa, mentor da Clean Feed – o pretexto foi a distinção desta editora de jazz lisboeta com um importante galardão internacional e a edição (a vários títulos improvável) do disco nº100. Quisemos saber que explicações tem ele a dar, agora que ultrapassou o disco nº200.

A Clean Feed (CF) já se habituou ao reconhecimento por tudo o que é revista e site de jazz pelo mundo fora, mas constou-me que em 2010 tiveram uma visita vinda de Belém….
É verdade, tivemos em Junho a visita do Presidente da República, como parte do Roteiro da Juventude. Foi um reconhecimento muitíssimo importante e que muito nos honrou. Essa visita teve imensa cobertura por parte dos media e isso é muito importante para nós como editora, já que a maior fatia do nosso sucesso revela-se no estrangeiro, onde somos alvo de inúmeras distinções: All About Jazz e Jazz Journalists Association à cabeça, mas também revistas como a Downbeat, Jazztimes, Jazz Magazine.
Em que países é distribuída a CF?
Espanha, Bélgica, Japão, Noruega, Alemanha, Polónia, Suíça e França e temos lojas a quem vendemos directamente nos EUA, Inglaterra, Austrália, Honk Kong e China.
Em média, quais os países responsáveis por maior percentagem de vendas?
EUA, depois Alemanha e Polónia. O Japão já foi óptimo mas desde há uns dois anos e devido a mudança de pessoal no nosso distribuidor, caiu muito.
E como correm as coisas por cá?
O mercado português funciona bem apenas em relação a alguns artistas nacionais como Bernardo Sassetti, Carlos Bica, Júlio Resende, Carlos Barretto e pouco mais. Quanto a CDs de músicos estrangeiros representa muito muito pouco, infelizmente.
Uma das coisas que distingue a CF de outras editoras independentes de jazz é o carácter internacional do catálogo: há projectos vindos dos EUA, Escandinávia, Holanda, Alemanha, França, Suíça, Itália, todas as Grandes Potências do jazz estão representadas…
A missão da CF é documentar uma época (ou várias, dependendo do tempo que conseguirmos aguentar num país como este) nesta música, seja qual for a proveniência. Ao princípio achava que o facto de estarmos em Portugal seria uma desvantagem, por não estarmos associados a uma cena forte como Nova Iorque, Chicago ou Estocolmo, mas hoje em dia vejo isso como a nossa maior vantagem. Não estarmos ofuscados por uma cena forte permite-nos ver mais além.
Qual é a representação do jazz nacional?
Cerca de 23% do nosso catálogo é constituído por músicos portugueses.
Imagino que sejam inundados de propostas de músicos…
Sim, recebo mensalmente para cima de 100 CDs de propostas.
E és tu, sozinho, que tens de ouvir esses 100 CDs/mês e decidir?
Basicamente sou eu que faço a primeira triagem, quando encontro alguma coisa digna de registo passo-a ao Travassos e ao Hernani para me darem a sua opinião. Muitas vezes, quando não tenho dúvidas, avanço a solo.
Podes levantar o véu sobre algumas das novidades mais “bombásticas” para 2011?
Posso anunciar um octeto com muitas cordas do saxofonista Tim Berne já em Janeiro. É uma gravação de 1997 que ficou na prateleira de uma rádio alemã e que só agora o Tim teve acesso e nos propôs editar. Desse grupo fazem parte Baikida Carroll, Michael Formanek, Jim Black, Chris Speed, Erik Friedlander, Marc Ducret e Dominique Pifarély.
Uma gravação com um elenco desses na prateleira?! E que mais?
Vamos também editar o novo trabalho dos Mostly Other People Do the Killing, um quinteto do trompetista Ralph Alessi com Ravi Coltrane nos saxofones, um noneto do Tony Malaby com arranjos e condução de Kris Davis, um novo CD do Júlio Resende, desta vez em trio, um dueto do Tim Berne com o Bruno Chevillon.
E que diabo quer dizer Clean Feed, pode saber-se?
É um termo técnico utilizado em vídeo e que significa alimentar um sinal puro. Foi o Rodrigo Amado que trouxe este nome quando se juntou a nós em 2001. Aprecio-o bastante já que é uma declaração de intenções, apresentar a música da forma mais pura, sem nenhum tipo de manipulação da nossa parte. Julgo mesmo que este é um capital importante que temos com os músicos: a liberdade que lhes damos de apresentarem a sua música sem interferências. Não somos os que pagamos melhor mas se calhar somos os que lhes damos mais liberdade, afecto e feedback acerca do seu trabalho.