Daily Archives: July 20, 2011

Revue & Corrigee review by Pierre Durr

Compilation – Free classical guitars (ff hhhff hhh)
Compilation – I Never Metaguitar (CFG 005)
A travers ces deux compilations dédiées à la guitare, chacune proposée par un praticien de l’instrument (le Belge Grégory Duby d’une part, Elliott Sharp d’autre part), l’auditeur côtoie diverses approches de l’instrument. Des approches complémentaires. La première peut sembler plus expérimentale, plus ouverte dans la mesure où elle s’inscrit moins dans un environnement identifiable, d’autant plus que ses praticiens (européens) sont moins connus, presque plus anonymes si l’on excepte Nicolas Desmarchelier, Olaf Rupp ou peut-être Roger Smith, alors que les invités de l’enregistrement portugais (européens, américains, voire asiatique avec Kazuhisa Uchihashi…) ont déjà une notoriété certaine, confirmée par plusieurs décennies de pratique, sous leur nom pour une majorité d’entre eux (Elliott Sharp, Jean-François Pauvros, Noël Akchoté, Scott Fields, Mike Cooper, Henry Kaiser…) ou en tant que partenaires d’autres instrumentistes liés au jazz improvisée (Mary Halvorson, Jeff Parker…). Par ailleurs les premiers usent d’une guitare classique dans leur pratique de l’improvisation, tandis que la guitare électrique reste l’instrument de prédilection pour les seconds, même si l’un ou l’autre des officiants use d’une viole de gambe électrifiée (le Suédois Raoul Björkenheim), d’effets divers (Jeff Parker), voire de plusieurs guitares jouées simultanément (Henry Kaiser)… Entre nappes sonores, approches à la power trio, pratique d’arpèges, jeux aux phrasés tantôt plus jazz, tantôt plus rock expérimental, parsemés de séquences improvisées déjantés, “I never metaguitar” reste assez familier tout en cultivant la diversité, alors que “Free Classical Guitars” offre majoritairement des pratiques assez proches les unes des autres dans la mesure où pour la plupart des officiants et au-delà de leur sensibilité personnelle, des détournements sonores qu’ils opèrent ou de la mise en situation de l’instrument , Derek Bailey semble être l’inspirateur principal.


JazzWrap review by Vern

Ralph Alessi and This Against That – Wiry Strong (CF 220)
Ralph Alessi’s music always has a well structured, complex and cinematic feel to it. He was raised and trained as a classical trumpeter, and it shows throughout all of his releases with a supreme mastery of his instrument. The combination of that classical technique and his love of modern jazz structures makes for exciting and diverse albums every time out.

His work with fellow trailblazing musicians such as Jason Moran, Don Byron, Uri Caine, Steve Coleman among others has put him in an almost indescribable category. Most jazz fans would describe his music as avant garde but his latest, Wiry Strong (Clean Feed Records) feels like his most accomplished and accessible album to date.

Wiry Strong magnificently weaves together diverse ideas, turning them into romantic adventures and in some cases fun excursions. “Station Wagon Trip” has a big orchestrated tone but it is also enveloped a sense of a group moving forward in sound. There are spiraling rhythms that are enhanced by Andy Milne on piano and Ravi Coltrane. Alessi’s performance carries the listener on what feels like a surreal journey but this all works as an enjoyable experience that can easily be grasped by even the newest fan to Alessi’s music.

“Halves And Wholes” is probably the most beautiful piece on the record. It definitely highlights Alessi’s contemporary/straight ahead abilities both in composition and performance. This is a ballad which the band is integral but Alessi carries the tune with a soft touch that is match wonderfully by Milne.

“A Dollar In Your Shoe” and “20% Of The 80%” are both fun pieces combining multi-layered structures with some crisp performances by Gress and Ferber (in the case of “Dollar”). Alessi’s muted trumpet of “20% Of The 80%” adds a level of mystery to the piece along with rolling, repeating patterns from Ferber that keep the avant garde and forward thinking spirit of this group alive. “Wiry Strong” closes out the session in a searching yet forward thinking mode. Alessi and Coltrane lead the group upward in both timing and adventure.

With Wiry Strong, Ralph Alessi has created an album of incredibly rich concepts and captivating melodies that will be rewarding for fans new and old. Ralph Alessi like his many collaborators is among the rare group of musicians who are continuing to push jazz forward and beyond its traditional definitions. Highly Recommended.

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

The weight of a gesture is enhanced by conciseness in relation to the muscular strength of who makes it. In that sense the material comprised by Old And Unwise – a full hour of duos for double bass and alto saxophone – frequently seems to relate to the substantial aspect of artistry rather than eliciting the idea of Pindaric flights and schismatic tendencies. Not that Chevillon and Berne are not able to act as sympathetic visionaries when they choose to; on the contrary, their ability of mingling skill and lyricism in a piece like “Quelque Chose Vacille” is inspiring, and in the following “Back Up The Truck” the art of manly defence is completely repudiated in favour of a visit to the melodic vaults. Yet the physical definition of the respective timbres is always what emerges as paramount over consecutive listens. Perspicacious dichotomies and self-imposed constraints characterize Berne’s phrasing in every circumstance; however, when he lets the sax yelp and howl it never comes as unexpected, more a logical development of previously explored options. Chevillon is a terrific instant composer, capable of altering the unchangeable features of an instrument with sharp decisions, significant technical grounding and the unaffectedness of a pluck-and-throb shrewdness which is typical of few master bassists, those who are equally good at sustaining a conversation and let individuality shine during solitary moments of exposure. There’s no finding a weak point throughout, time literally flying thanks to copious doses of outstanding music.