Daily Archives: September 12, 2011

JazzReview review by Glenn Astarita

European Movement Jazz Orchestra (EMJO) – Live in Coimbra CF 228 )
Rating: Five Stars
Profundity, variety and a multidimensional stance are a few striking attributes of the European Movement Jazz Orchestra’s portfolio. With young Slovenian musicians lending their wares, the large ensemble casts a symphonic overture amid small ensemble breakouts and Kenton-like brashness. They explore the free-zone at times during various interludes, yet the musicians’ collective imaginary powers intimate more than a few persuasive proposals.

With the agility of a smaller ensemble, the band forges various genres into the mix, including contemporary classical music and loose groove rock motifs. Uncannily cohesive, the orchestra throws the book at convention. With lucid theme-building exercises and blitzing horns arrangements, the music is also dappled with animated call and response mechanisms. In effect, the orchestra keeps the listener on the edge via the anticipation of subsequent developments.

Saxophonist Uwe Steinmetz is the primary soloist on “E.S.T.,” which is a warm, but largely upbeat ballad that ascends with swarming horns and a forceful buildup during the bridge. Otherwise, the program features witty twists and turns. They generate pathos and a complex cabaret vibe during “Koln Kuddelmuddel,” countered by the wah-wah horns and a jazz-rock vamp. And on “The Shagg’s Principle,” the artists open with a low-key storyline that segues into a twirling big band movement, counterbalanced by probing statements and feisty soloing jaunts. However, the orchestra diminishes into a piano trio setting for several bars, which is yet another component of the band’s distinct mode of operations. Indeed, the music iterated here moves forward with the impact and flair of a comprehensively devised action-packed thriller.

Time Out Lisboa review by José Carlos Fernandes

Harris Eisenstadt – September Trio (CF 229)
Ao 3º disco do baterista Harris Eisenstadt na Clean Feed instala-se a suspeita que tal nome possa servir de fachada a vários criadores diferentes – todos talentosos. Depois da febre africana de Guewel e do pós-bop elástico de Canada Day, eis um disco de jazz de câmara, elegíaco e contido.

O som caloroso e emotivo de Ellery Eskelin lembra que sob a modernidade da sua música se oculta devoção sincera a velhos mestres do sax tenor. O piano de Angelica Sanchez espalha aguadas impressionistas que, aqui e ali, coagulam em manchas densas e nervosas. Eisenstadt enriquece o colorido, em registo pontilhista.

A beleza enviesada deste jardim outonal pode não ser imeditamente apreensível, pelo que se recomenda a entrada por “September 5”, a porta mais acessível.

Time Out Lisboa review by José Carlos Fernandes

BassDrumBone – The Other Parade (CF 223)
Foi há  34 anos que estes três rapazes se juntaram pela primeira vez e o seu primeiro disco, Oahspe, foi gravado um ano depois. Apesar de os três se terem tornado numa referência no respectivo instrumento e terem enveredado por carreiras individuais muito bem preenchidas, não deixam de arranjar tempo para se encontrarem de quando em quando. Após um interregno de cinco anos (The Line Up, também na Clean Feed, é de 2006), chega The Other Parade.

Os longos anos de cumplicidade e o virtuosismo permitem a Ray Anderson, Mark Helias e Gerry Hemingway dar a impressão de que um trio de trombone, contrabaixo e bateria é a mais natural e confortável das formações. Não é, mas essa questão não aflora por um só instante ao longo dos nove temas, como sempre de autoria equitativamente repartida. Como também não se põe a questão que tantas vezes dilacera músicos, críticos e apreciadores de jazz – a da suposta oposição tradição/modernidade. Os BassDrumBone recorrem ao jazz Dixieland (e o CD até inclui uma vénia a Louis Armstrong, intitulada “King Louisian”), ao blues e ao bebop mas recombinam-nos e vazam-nos em novos moldes.

Para perceber o relacionamento telepático e não-hierárquico do trio escutem-se os jogos de pergunta e resposta em “Soft Shoe Mingle”. “King Louisian”, homenagem a Armstrong em toada festiva, deixa qualquer um pasmado com os malabarismos do trombone e “The Masque” assentaria a matar como abertura de um film noir – se o cinema não tivesse perdido a coragem de usar jazz na banda sonora.

The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

BassDrumBone – The Other Parade (CF 223)
The trio of bassist Mark Helias, drummer Gerry Hemingway and trombonist Ray Anderson -BassDrumBone – is among the longest running bands in jazz history. The three met in New Haven in 1977 and made their first record, Oahspe (Auricle), in 1978 at that city’s Educational Center for the Arts, when agroup of this instrumentation was far less likely than it is today. That first recording featured compositions by all three members of the group, a practice that continues in the present with The Other Parade, with three pieces by each of the musicians. In this context each of the composers is oddly reminiscent of Horace Silver and Bobby Timmons, endowed with the ability to marry strong folk elements- whether blues, gospel, ballad and march – with subtle complexities of harmony and rhythm that will feed extended improvisation. Those roots are even in the sounds of their instruments, including the parade snare rattle of Hemingway and the guitar-like textures that Helias sometimes explores and it’s paramount in the work of Anderson, a trombonist of almost unmatched breadth, developing the instrument’s vocal tradition that runs out from early New Orleans to the present: he can sputter and burp, giggle and wail, with or without a mute, shifting timbre on successive notes at high speed, not just an individual erupting or eructating, but a crowd issuing involuntary noises and responding with mirth. Those rapid flights into the upper register are matched by some miracles of articulation, whether it’s the bluster of his own “King Louisian”, the blues of Helias’ “Blue Light Down the Line” or the brilliantly executed multiple tonguing of Hemingway’s “Show Tuck”.It’s easy for a bassist and drummer to fade into the shadows with a presence as virtuosic as Anderson, but that doesn’t happen in this band, with Helias and Hemingway – masters of the deliberated gesture, the structural nuance, the new detail. The result is music of a consistently high level that investigates and reinvents the tradition at will.

The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

Afterfall – Afterfall (CF 208 )
Afterfall is an international quintet consisting of Portuguese (guitarist Luis Lopes and trumpeter Sei Miguel), American (tenor and soprano saxophonist Joe Giardullo and drummer Harvey Sorgen) and French (bassist Benjamin Duboc) musicians. Their first meeting in a Lisbon studio is documented here. The methodology is free improvisation, but as the instrumentation suggests, there are strong free jazz elements at work here in both the roles and the textures the band favors, from the Cool-era sound of Miguel’s pocket trumpet – always muted and played in the middle-register – to the vocalic wails of Giardullo’s saxophones. The band is both genuinely collective and spacious, with a shared willingness to let ideas develop in their own time. There’s a certain transparency in the band’s music, with one musician’s voice passing through another’s. Most interesting are microscopic, granular bits of sound that abound here, sometimes ultimately traceable to Sorgen’s subtle cymbal and snare work, but more often to Lopes’ thoroughly electronic conception of the guitar. His gritty waves of barely audible sound contribute much to shape the textures prevalent here and when he takes the lead he has a sense of sonic play that extends from the glassy quarter-tones of the opening “Shut Up Goddess” to the sustained feedback on “Return of the Shut Up Goddess”, his guitar almost shakuhachi-like. While Sorgen and Duboc can provide fields of scintillating detail, they’re also capable of tremendous drive, most notably in the powerful backing they provide Giardullo for his intense tenor exhortation on“American Open Road with a Frog”, a whimsical title likely inspired by the soulful multiphonic roar that the saxophonist develops. The extended “Triptych” is notable for the collective composition of which the group is capable, Duboc (a brilliant arco player) and Lopes developing spontaneous figures that become both insistent support and provocation to the horns. There are musical relationships developing here that bode well for the future.

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

PARKER / GUY / LYTTON + PETER EVANS – Scenes In The House Of Music (CF 196) 
This record – born in September 2009 at Casa Da Música (hence the title) – is permeated by a striking forthrightness parallelling the equally impressive dexterity and improvisational fantasy of each of the contributing musicians. Consisting of five “scenes” (plus an encore not indicated on the cover), it is initially a tough nut to crack – no concessions whatsoever, no winks to the audience – but once the essence of the interplay is finally visible, one almost gets a sense of invincibility, of being shielded by some kind of superior power. This feel is reinforced by the awareness of sounds generated by unbending characters who have no intention of giving up a strenuous fight against the “exhaustion by stereotype” syndrome. The way in which the augmented trio rotates extreme collective intensity and large spaces for the actions of single components is pure delight for these ears.

There is a deceptive prevalence in the mix by the duo of forwards. Parker on the left, tenor and soprano saxes achieving a perfect balance of bulkiness and bright-minded quarrelsomeness, Evans on the right, alternating solitary quacks and hysteric shrieks to the everlasting research for unusual combinations and successions of peculiar physical events. Yet an expert listener immediately realizes that without the remaining factors the music wouldn’t be at the same level of acoustic heftiness and unequivocal originality. Guy’s absolute domination of the low-frequency area through a wooden beast manipulated like a painter’s brush is a vision itself, his solo at the beginning of the fourth chapter a confirmation of a not enough sung magnitude. Lytton is precious and modest, never too much at the mix’s vanguard. Still, there’s no mistaking those incessant anti-rhythms and spastic fragments with negligence, an inalienable percussive creativity lying at the basis of an abnormal type of propulsion that benefits the entire group’s vibrancy.

All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

Harris Eisenstadt – September Trio (CF 229)
In the global jazz community, drummer Harris Eisenstadt has spiraled to prominence via his technical capacities and insightful compositional prowess via large and small ensembles. His musicality supersedes that of most drummers, where he takes a holistic approach to variable tangents and architectures. With his September trio, armed with an equally prominent support system, Eisenstadt charts the mood or biorhythms of September, 2010, capturing and propagating a broad plane of sentiment, executed at either slow or medium-tempo processions.

“September 1,” the album opener, elicits meditations of a late-night vibe, treated by a tepid breeze. Here, tenor sax titan Ellery Eskelin incorporates semi-free blues choruses atop the leader’s sensitive drumming, spiced with a motivational type force. Angelica Sanchez’ cyclical and sometimes fragmented piano phrasings offer a circular perimeter indented with jagged edges.

The trio generates a lightly buoyant plot that may emanate from an inspirational fact or idea, with Eisenstadt dancing and darting across the kit to accentuate Eskelin’s yearning notes amid a spirited discussion. “September 1” is an impressionistic piece, funneled through the looking glass of art.