Daily Archives: January 13, 2011

All Music Guide review by Michael G. Nastos

Júlio Resende – Assim Falava Jazzatustra (CF 158)
Contemporary jazz pianist Julio Resende is dedicated to not only extending the tradition of jazz, but making it in his own inimitable way. Blessed with overwhelming technique and a good concept beyond where the canon of jazz should go, Resende and his European quartet play original music that stretches N.Y.C. neo-bop with a continental flair, using minimalist and repeat phrases that set up an unfettered realm of improvisation. Alto saxophonist Perico Sambeat — like Resende — is a unique performer with no discerible influences, while bassist Ole Morten Vågan and drummer Joel Silva are well-rehearsed, more than merely keeping up with the busy or refined nuances of the leaders. Excepting a single studio track, this disc was recorded during live performance in Lisbon, Portugal at the Fabrica Braco de Prata, where they know how to jam out and uplift a crowd. The opener “Don’t” is an ultimate tone setter, mixing hip funk and shuffle rhythms as Sambeat offers simple, one-note phrases that gradually expand, leading to spirit soul from Resende during his solo, and a bassline moving well past ostinato. The 13-minute “Sakatwala” dances in kinetic beats of eight, bouncy and happy with a South African flavor, while a heavier Bad Plus image for “Boom!” stomps it down like a nice llittle monster. A frantic, supercharged bop, “Jazz Pt” stretches spiky melody lines into an Eric Dolphy-type overtone display, while Sambeat’s chunky alto perseveres alongside the addition of the playful tenor sax of guest Desiderio Lázaro on the long, solo-laden “Caixa Registadora.” Resende does a beautifully extrapolated, exuberant solo take of Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” while the in-studio selection “Ir e Voltar” is a strange yet exquisite cross of cascading 5/4 piano against a juxtaposed rock beat with João Custodio’s bassline and Manuela Azevedo’s gothic vocals. This recording is a fine example of how European jazz musicians have taken cues from their American counterparts, and have upped the ante to a point where they are the ones making fresh sounds and unique statements, while many U.S. musicians linger stubbornly on tradition. Make no mistake, Resende and his band have got it goin’ on.

All Music Guide review by Michael G. Nastos

John Hebert Trio – Spiritual Lover (CF 175)Bassist/composer John Hebert’s second date as a leader lives up to its title perfectly, an ethereal set of primarily piano-bass-drums trio music in the modern creative style that is as haunting as it is substantive. Keyboardist Benoit Delbecq weaves magical spells on acoustic piano, synths, and the clavinet, while drummer Gerald Cleaver plays indirect rhythms anchored by supposition rather than straight beats. In the middle is Hebert, solid and unspectacular, bobbing or jabbing as his sidemen create utter mystery. Parsed drama crops up in the title track, during the symmetrical “Amdo,” and on pretty piano pieces moving from peaceful feelings to stair-step spirals. Spooky electronic-flavored space segments and some crazy music dot the landscape, but in the main, this is a set of enjoyable late-night music that is easy to digest and savor.

All Music Guide review by Michael G. Nastos

Steve Lehman / Rudresh Mahanthappa – Dual Identity (CF 172)
Birds of a feather who never think twice about what they do, alto saxophonists Rudresh Mahanthappa and Steve Lehman play together with a religious fervor and shared values that few musicians on similar instruments have ever possessed. Recorded at the Braga Jazz Festival, these two blow as if their lives depended on it with every phrase, accent, and extended counterpoint line, the essence of conjoined compatible styles, using so many notes in so little time. These whirling dervishes base their rhythmic contours via power-pointed accents and ethno-funk at times during “The General,” and spiky fatback counter-melodies on a bed of lean beats from drummer Damion Reid during “Foster Brothers.” There are spatial moments as constructed by guitarist Liberty Ellman, ballads, blues from bassist Matt Brewer, and fluttery separates from the principals. But mostly it’s Mahanthappa and Lehman pushing the limits of their instruments as they duel away nonstop, feeding off each other and building huge pyramids of sound. The insistent “Circus” and more joined, less kinetic “Post-Modern Pharaohs” might be tracks that are something of a departure, but reveling in the mastery of how they both uniquely approach what has been a bebop vehicle for most post-Charlie Parker saxophonists is nothing short of a modern miracle. As ultra-concentrated a creative jazz outing as you will ever hear, the Mahanthappa-Lehman combine is heretofore unrivaled, challenged by no similar current tandem, and deserves high merit for its energy level alone. Yes, wailers still roam the Earth!

All Michael G. Nastos

Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth – Bigmouth (CF 174)
Bigmouth — a project of bassist Chris Lightcap — apparently is inspired by stretched-out, two-toned, tail-finned, white-wall-tired cars of the mid-’50s, in reference to the cover art on Deluxe. The music is ultra-modern from a compositional standpoint, only hinting at neo-bop while pushing the creative improvised harmonic envelope. Lightcap’s expertise on the bass is second to none, as he pushes and prods his way through these original works with an absolutely stellar band of drummer Gerald Cleaver, electric keyboardist Craig Taborn, tenor saxophonists Tony Malaby and Chris Cheek, and on three tracks alto saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo. While some allusions to the vintage autos are reflected in the titles, Lightcap’s vision is of the future, a heady mix of heart and soul embedded in this refreshing new music. The human cry from the three saxophonists in tandem shows their individual strengths abandoned for the common good, especially during the meaty, weighty “Ting,” as an active Lightcap sets the tone in 6/8 time while the stabbing Fender Rhodes of Taborn provides alternate tangents. The music is centered but perfectly identified by shooting out many sparks and shafts of light. “Platform” and “The Clutch” have Cheek and Malaby in saddened or hunched-over moods, funky in odd meters, as if on a long junket to nowhere. There are even darker or bluesy images conjured — slow, deliberate, or swinging — but Lightcap’s slap bass as a prelude for the rockin’ “Fuzz” gives a clearer view of what might be representative of a road song, and a signature sound in relation to the hot rod or classic car. This is a terrific recording from an incredible band that everyone who enjoys these musicians — as individuals or bandleaders in their own right — should play frequently while rolling down the superhighway of life.

All Music Guide review by Phil Freeman

Tony Malaby – Tamrindo Live (CF 200)
Like John Coltrane, Tony Malaby is a tenor saxophonist who occasionally picks up the soprano. That’s about as close as the two men get in terms of playing style or musical approach. Malaby’s lines don’t have much of the heartfelt spiritual questing of Coltrane, or Wayne Shorter; instead, he adopts the extended techniques of the AACM and modern improv players, using a range of fluttering tones and squeals more reminiscent of the work of Roscoe Mitchell or Evan Parker. When balanced against the approaches of his three bandmates on this date, the contrasts are quite interesting and occasionally revelatory. Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is as interested in silence and space as he is in playing notes; his trumpet melodies frequently slur and become viscous, and his sense of rhythm is unique in jazz. Bassist William Parker is as powerful as ever on this live date, seeming to nearly tear the strings off the instrument’s neck as he keeps the band moving forward. Drummer Nasheet Waits is dexterous and subtle, swinging aggressively on the opening “Buoyant Boy” and the closing “Jack the Hat,” accenting the free-time ballads “Death Rattle” and “Hibiscus” with a sensitive touch, but never playing anything clumsy or forced. This is the kind of set — four long tracks, some quite forceful and others earnestly murmuring — one can hear in New York on almost any night of the week. It’s the quality of the performances, which are empathetic and collective in the best possible way, that jumps this CD out of the pack and makes it well worth hearing.

Best of 2010 List by François Dunlop (CISM – University of Montreal’s Radio Station)

François Dunlop // 12’’ dans l’jazz
(en ordre alphabétique)
– Angles – Epileptical West : Live in Coimbra (Clean Feed)
– Aki Takase – A Week Went By (Psi)
– Billy Fox’s Blackbird and Bullets – Dulces (Clean Feed)
– Chicago Underground Duo – Boca Negra (Thrill Jockey) + Exploding Star Orchestra – Stars Have Shapes (Delmark)
– The Exposed Blues Duo – Bare (Greene Avenue Music)
– Jason Adasiewicz – Sun Rooms (Delmark)
– Mario Pavone Orange Double Tenor – Arc Suite t/pi t/po (Playscape)
– Mary Halvorson Quintet – Saturn Sings (Firehouse 12)
– Nicole Mitchell’s Sonic Projections – Emerald Hills (Rogue Art)
– Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook-Up – Actionspeak (482 Music)

Le Son du Grisli review by Pierre Cécile

Hugo Antunes – Roll Call (CF 197)
Jusqu’à la semaine dernière, je ne savais rien d’Hugo Antunes, ce contrebassiste portugais fier comme un rock qui en appelle au roll (le jeu de mots est tout trouvé parce que Roll Call est un disque de jazz musculeux !).

Pas de romantisme en vogue et jamais d’exagération chez Antunes. Plutôt des rondeurs généreuses qui vont bien au jazz qu’il joue avec Daniele Martini et Toine Thys aux saxophones & Joao Lobo et Marek Patrman aux batteries. Le secret est-il dans la présence de ces deux batteurs ? Peut-être, le tout est que cette musique coule de source, est agréable à entendre et si l’on veut intéressante à décortiquer. Antunes met sa jeunesse et sa fougue au service du jazz et le résultat est surprenant…