Daily Archives: January 20, 2011

Cadence Magazine review by Grego Applegate Edwards

Will Holshouser + Bernardo Sassetti – Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hyms (CF 160)
Clean Feed will turn around and surprise you once in a while with a release that virtually nobody expects. In this case it is a piano-accordian-trumpet-acoustic bass lineup in an unusual Eurofolk-Jazz meld. Now that might give you some misgivings before even hearing it, but hold on. This may be an unusual configuration but the music has appeal. Ron Horton’s trumpet has the requisite obligatto touch, almost like a Wild Bill Davidson transplanted to a village somewhere. Sassetti plays deceptively simple accompaniment sometimes, other times he is an integral voice in the song-structure. Then he’ll step out for a solo that combines the Folk charm with Improv-Jazz inflection. Holshouser plays a folksy accordion that will surprise you with something out of character for such a role, and so will the Phillip’s bass in doing its underpinning. Holshouser’s “Dance of the Dead” in seven is fetching; he pens many (most) of the songs on this set, all of which have interest. “Irreverent” is by Sassetti and it too is in the folksy-meets-progres-sive vein. It’s a disk I thought I wouldn’t like. But it’s so good at what it does, and what it does has so many delightfully unexpected moments, I did.
©Cadence Magazine 2011 www.cadencebuilding.com

Jazzreview review by Glenn Astarita

Eric Boeren 4tet – Song For Tracy – Live at Jazz Brugge 2004 (CF 186)
Cornetist Eric Boeren leads his Dutch quartet with a crisp, compact and expressive sound through a program that toggles between inventive bop, free-bop and avant expressionism on this live date recorded in 2004. With legendary British drummer Paul Lovens garnering the most out of his sparse kit and generating a sparky underpinning, the program is underscored by contrasting tones and a vibrant stance.  Lovens and superfine bassist Wilbert de Joode literally have the beat on dynamics throughout the oscillating ebbs and flows.

Boeren steers an exploration mission, yet the differentiator is that the musicians align and take full control along the way with a stylistic flair that yields the winning formula.  The quartet works through unorthodox time signatures and elicits imagery of a bustling metropolis on Coleman’s “Moon Inhabitants.”  And Moore tempers the flow via his buttery sax parts.  Yet on other pieces such as Boeren’s spicy bop gala “Fuzzaphony,” the musicians render a jubilant mid-tempo groove, tinged with a touch of Coleman’s harmolodic sensibilities. Therefore, Boeren leads a world-class ensemble as the end results prove to be quite rewarding.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

Tony Malaby’s Tamarindo Live (CF 200) 
Clean Feed llega a la referencia número 200 de su catálogo. Del mismo modo que en la número 100 se daba el lujo de publicar el cuádruple CD de improvisaciones de Joe Morris con Anthony Braxton, la de la segunda centena es un directo de hace apenas medio año (junio de 2010) por un grupo de lujo: el cuarteto consistente en el trío Tamarindo del saxofonista Tony Malaby (con William Parker al contrabajo y Nasheet Waits a la batería) más el añadido del trompetista Wadada Leo Smith. Su contenido incluye grandes nombres, pocas sorpresas formales y (sobre todo) música de primer nivel.

Poco hay que hablar sobre William Parker o sobre un histórico como Wadada Leo Smith. Tampoco demasiado sobre Nasheet Waits (que aquí está especialmente brillante), y quizás un poco más sobre Tony Malaby, aunque tampoco mucho más. Las cuatro son figuras ya consagradas, más conocidos unos músicos que otros, pero todos ellos con unas carreras a sus espaldas que avalan su calidad.

Tal y como comentaba esta grabación presenta pocas sorpresas, ya que el directo es el hábitat por antonomasia de estos cuatro músicos. Tony Malaby es el autor de las cinco composiciones (en la última pista a la composición “Jack The Hat” se le añade como coda el tema “Caged Man”). Éstas presentan unas formas bien definidas que los cuatro músicos se encargan de moldear a su gusto y ampliar hasta unas duraciones generosas (el tema más corto dura doce minutos, el más largo diecisite). De ese modo la música se puede desarrollar sin prisas y sin unos límites auto impuestos por los músicos.

Tampoco hay demasiadas sorpresas en cuanto a las formas con unas exposiciones de la melodía en conjunto a las que le siguen los correspondientes solos, o con esas regiones musicales aparentemente indefinidas y neblinosas en la que los músicos van intercambiando sus ideas y compartiendo su inspiración para ir construyendo la música. Tampoco hay sorpresas en los ambientes, que van cambiando tema a tema. Mientras en algunos momentos tienen un carácter más incisivo (aunque tampoco demasiado), en otros la música se vuelve más enigmática o incluso contemplativa. Todos estos ingredientes, sabiamente combinados y cocinados por la maestría de los cuatro músicos sirven para estructurar un pequeño festín para los oídos.

Posiblemente Pedro Costa y compañía podrían haber celebrado este aniversario con alguna de las otras muchas buenas obras que abundan en el catálogo de Clean Feed. Sin embargo y tras la escucha parece que la decisión de que fuese precisamente este título resulta más que acertada, ya que entronca perfectamente con la filosofía del resto de referencias. Sólo queda darles la enhorabuena por llegar al número 200 en el catálogo. Ahora les toca ir a por el 300.

JazzWord review by Kan Waxman

Urs Leimgruber/Evan Parker – Twine (CF 194)
The International Nothing – Less Action, Less Excitement, Less Everything (Ftarri 219)
Setting up some of the most difficult interface imaginable here – two unaccompanied reed duos – are two veteran improvisers and two younger players all of whom manage to extract panoramic timbres from their respective instruments. One common strategy is to avoid harmonic unison in favor of broken octaves or double counterpoint tropes. The side-by-side variants revealed are particularly fascinating when both musicians are play saxophones in one case, or clarinets in the other.

Nonetheless sonic supremacy shouldn’t surprise in the case of British saxophonist Evan Parker and his Swiss counterpart Urs Leimgruber on Twine. Present at the birth of Euro Improv in the mid-1960s, Parker has maintained impeccable standards since then, working with other first generation players such as bassist Barry Guy and pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach as well as a clutch of increasingly younger experimenters. A little short of a decade younger, Leimgruber was initially a members of the Fusion band OM, graduating in the 1980s to more abstract improvisations which he now specializes in, working with confreres ranging from French bassist Joëlle Léandre to German synthesizer player Thomas Lehn.

A generation removed from the saxophonists, the members of The International Nothing, German clarinetists Kai Fagaschinski and Michael Thieke, are committed to pure abstraction, as well as more melody-based projects. Thieke, for instance, is a member of Dok Wallach, a Charles Mingus tribute band, and both play with singer Margareth Kammerer and electronic manipulator/vocalist Christof Kurzmann. Fagaschinski’s flirtation with restrained lap-top sounds also ally him with reductionist sounds. In fact while the Twine duo appears preoccupied with the energetic output of high-pitched, fortissimo and staccato timbres, the improvising on Less Action, Less Excitement, Less Everything – true to its title – slides and sluices around enervated tones, with the doubled tessitura sometimes masked by extended silences.

Occasionally reflecting the clarinets’ wooden properties, most of Fagaschinski’s and Thieke’s layered reed tones are solid and almost unbreakable. While chromatic and undulating, the double counterpoint is more moderato than agitato and except for bursts of forte shrilling, deftly expressed in mid-range tones. Polytonality abounds, with pitch vibrations occasionally taking on pipe-organ-like cohesion, and on every track, diminishing into near-inaudibility for a short period before a final variant bubbles to the sonic surface. Only rarely as well do the two lines separate either, with one becoming nearly mellow and the other sharply staccato.

“Crystal Clear Fog” is a fine example of this approach. Not only do the initial lines undulate in unison as they move infinitesimally up the scale, but one clarinetist manages to sound a grace note with almost trumpet-like in construction and another as if woodwind trills are refracting back from a piano’s innards. Eventually it appears as if the pressurized tones are constantly spilling outwards until they reach an almost lighter-than-air stasis. Following a short interlude of air being forced through two body tubes, harmonized reed chirping is mutated into strident chromaticism as the finale.

Despite this instance, the vast majority of the dual clarinetists’ timbres are gentle undulations compared to the extruded shrieks, peeps and jagged false-register runs that characterize the Parker-Leimgruber interface. Over the course of three lengthy selections, the two shift effortlessly from tenor to soprano saxophones, although it’s never clear which alternative is in use at any one time. Occasionally operating in lockstep, but more frequently like yelping dogs chasing one another, their circling timbres encompass an army of extended techniques. There are staccatissimo cries and reed bites, verbalized squeaks, lip smacks, flutter tones and tongue slaps, splayed textures and vector movements. If one player strays towards lyricism, the other’s response is splintered and staccato. And circular breathing is used to mark timbral shifts.

The two stretch their tessitura as early as “Twine”, and continue spluttering and squeaking with advanced circular tones and partially illuminated tinctures all the way to the final “Twist”. Sluicing and side-slipping into double counterpoint, with spaced puffs, honks and bell-muting tones definitely attributable to one nor the other, neither overshadows the other. Jagged reed bites taken fortissimo sometimes expose metal friction, while linear rows of ghost notes, key percussion and spetrofluctuation mirror, without copying, each other’s lines. Exhibiting the rhythmic power available from two reeds blowing at full force on “Twine”, the dissonance created by this furious overtone interplay implies additional lines then those from two sound sources. Eventually the vocalized and vibrating reed tones reach a peak of strangled cries and tongue slaps before slipping away to silence.

Meeting the doubled reed challenge in their own fashion, appreciation for each – or both – of these CDs depends only on the listeners’ preferences for pacing and dissonance.