Daily Archives: January 6, 2011

All About Jazz review by Troy Collins

Matt Bauder – Day In Pictures (CF 210)
Day In Pictures is Matt Bauder’s first traditional jazz recording as the leader of a stellar acoustic quintet. Far from a debut, the young Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist already has a number of eclectic releases to his name, but none delve as far into the nuances of jazz tradition as this refined platter. His previous albums expand on his work as a sideman to adventurous peers like Taylor Ho Bynum, Harris Eisenstadt and Rob Mazurek, including his electro-acoustic debut, Weary Already Of The Way (482 Music, 2003), and the improvised chamber music project, Paper Gardens (Porter, 2010), in addition to a trilogy of albums made with the collective trio Memorize The Sky.

Bauder’s studies with composers Anthony Braxton, Ron Kuivila and Alvin Lucier are readily apparent in his more experimental work; Day In Pictures showcases his fondness for convention. Flush with elegant melodies, lush harmonies and supple swing rhythms, the session demonstrates Bauder’s commitment to the art form’s more modest antecedents, with brief avant-garde interjections providing thematic continuity within the context of his existing discography.

Nate Wooley(widely revered as one of the leading lights of new trumpet technique) joins Bauder on the frontline. Wooley’s coruscating excursions add layers of rich textural depth to Bauder’s sinuous themes—when not plying sonorous refrains, as on the simmering lamentation “January Melody.” Angelica Sanchez’s tough yet tender pianism provides a perfect balance between freedom and form, gracefully interweaving with Jason Ajemian’s pliant bass lines and Tomas Fujiwara’s vibrant trap set ruminations, yielding a nuanced mosaic of tones, tempos and textures that offer subtly adventurous variations on the tradition.

Bauder shares ample solo space with his band mates, proving to be as resourceful an improviser as he is a writer. Whether on tenor or clarinet, Bauder excels at building narrative solos that seamlessly integrate euphonious lyricism and wooly abstraction. His probing tenor solo on the hypnotic opener “Cleopatra’s Mood” is emblematic, effortlessly juxtaposing diaphanous filigrees and whispered motifs with trilled flurries and gruff multiphonics.

A devoted student of jazz history, Bauder subtly invokes Wayne Shorter’s haunting introspection on “Parks After Dark,” drawing similar inspiration from Duke Ellington’s vivacious charts and George Russell’s elaborate arrangements on the punchy swingers “Reborn Not Gone” and “Two Lucks.” The dramatic arc of the album’s episodic centerpiece “Bill and Maza” recalls Mingus, with the opulent closer, “Willoughby,” hinting at the legendary bassist’s nostalgic streak.

Occasionally augmented by understated electronic effects, the date draws a subtle parallel to another sonic innovator, Rahsaan Roland Kirk—an iconic presence whose all-encompassing pre-Post Modernist aesthetic is widely championed in the Brooklyn scene. Although it represents only one aspect of Bauder’s talents, Day In Pictures is a beautiful record, presenting a well-crafted program of modern jazz that expertly balances past traditions with future innovations.

John Sharpe’s (AAJ editor) Best of 2010 List

Here are ten new releases, in no particular order, which stood out among those I heard this year.

Kris Davis/Tyshawn Sorey/Ingrid Laubrock – Paradoxical Frog (Clean Feed) Since moving to New York City from London in 2008, German saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock has fallen in with a like minded coterie of musicians adept at shifting between the preordained and the inspired. Evidence has come in a slew of splendid discs including drummer Tom Rainey’s Pool School (Clean Feed) and Laubrock’s Anti House (Intakt) but this collective trio represents the cream.

Joe McPhee / Ingebrigt Håker Flaten – Blue Chicago Blues (Not Two)

Joe McPhee and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten make a successful pairing as evidenced by interactions which evince a highly charged form and purpose. In spite of the title there are no overt blue notes on display here. But McPhee’s tone on tenor saxophone is drenched in emotion. Even though the saxophonist has already released several outstanding recordings during 2010, including Magic (Not Two), Oto (Bo Weavil), and Trio X- Live On Tour 2008 (CIMPoL), this ranks as one of the best.

Harris Eisenstadt – Woodblock Prints (No Business)
Canadian drummer/composer Harris Eisenstadt is making a compelling case for complete player status. You never know what his name on the sleeve predicts. This wonderful LP features Eisenstadt’s charts for a nine-strong small orchestra. Though he takes a back seat instrumentally, content to color and direct, Eisenstadt’s conception has produced a gem to treasure.

Mike Pride’s From Bacteria To Boys – Betweenwhile (Aum Fidelity)
The whole band negotiates Mike Pride’s constructs so smoothly that listening with half an ear might suggest that this was yet another modern mainstream outing, but that would be to miss the subversive nature of what Pride is attempting here. It is contemporary mainstream seen through a distorting lens: nothing is quite as you expect it. 

Satoko Fujii ma-do – Desert Ship (Not Two)
Satoko Fujii’s broad ranging interests all come together here. Erring more towards the free jazz end of the spectrum than some of the pianist’s outfits, largely thanks to the flexible all acoustic rhythm section, this foursome brings stellar musicianship to bear on Fujii’s idiosyncratic arrangements. Ma-do excels as one of the pianist’s most rewarding outlets.

William Hooker – Earth’s Orbit (No Business)
If East Coast is hot and West cool in classic jazz parlance, then William Hooker subverts that tenet with East Coast hot, West Coast hotter in this double LP set featuring separate bands captured live on each coast. On these sides he focuses firmly on the core business, albeit with some nods to noise, for one of his strongest releases in recent years, with Bliss East particularly outstanding. 

Marshall Allen / Matthew Shipp / Joe Morris – Night Logic (RogueArt) The partnering of Sun Ra Arkestra regular Marshall Allen with pianist Matthew Shipp and long time associate Joe Morris yields an astonishing and joyful return, a live recording detailed with in-your-face sound from NYC’s Roulette. In spite of the instrumentation, the program is too urgent and rhythmic to come across as chamber jazz: the interaction of the three participants is an unalloyed delight.

Vandermark 5 Special Edition – The Horse Jumps And The Ship Is Gone (Not Two) For their 18th outing the quintet is expanded to a seven-piece Special Edition, by the addition of trumpeter Magnus Broo and pianist Håvard Wiik, from Scandinavian supergroup Atomic. While perhaps slightly less tightly plotted than regular V5 releases, the extended lineup more than compensates in terms of visceral clout. 

Famoudou Don Moye / Eliel Sherman Storey – Through The Fire (AECO) Also from Chicago, but a generation earlier, by Art Ensemble of Chicago stickman Famoudou Don and sound engineer turned saxophonist Eliel Sherman Storey. Both men take their time, listening closely and making each phrase count. Their structures are conventional: there’s nothing too surprising here, just good music superbly done.

Gebhard Ullmann / Steve Swell Quartet – News? No News! (Jazzwerkstatt) Both trombonist Steve Swell and reed multi-instrumentalist Gebhard Ullmann are exciting soloists but one of the pleasures of this set is the interaction between the two horns. Such refined, but not rote, interplay isn’t restricted to the frontline, and when allied to their unpredictable charts makes for a winning combination.