Daily Archives: September 12, 2011

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Julio Resende’s Piano and Trio Shine Warmly On “You Taste Like A Song”

Portuguese pianist Julio Resende has a kind of poetic touch. His trio date You Taste Like A Song (CF 216) waxes that way. A reflective Silencio–For the Fado opens the album with a beautifully glowing balladic-free piece that seems full of saudade longing.

The trio has alternating bassists and drummers and they all do good yeoman’s service accompanying and abetting Julio’s improvisations, getting space of their own as well. The original pieces have something musical to grab onto virtually all the time and Resende plays like he means it.

There’s a hint of mid-period Jarrett in terms of brightness, but not enough to say that he is a disciple. It’s Julio’s own way that comes to the fore on the CD. The title cut is especially attractive, with a fairly up bossa-rock feel and a kind of luminescent chordal melodic progression that enchants the senses.

There are some effective acoustic funk-rock trio forays, more helpings of balladic charm, moments of Bley-like freedom and use of trio space, a little of the Guaraldi-Jarrett gospel chordings, and plenty of different feels to keep the soul in a zone that rubs on one’s musical concentration like Alladin on the magic lamp. And the CD closes with Monk’s “Straight No Chaser” in a very personal sort of version.

It’s another good one from Cleen Feed. It’s a very good one for Julio Resende. Modern piano trio nuts should find plenty to crack here.

Ni Kantu review by Clifford Allen

NATE WOOLEY QUINTET – (Put Your) Hands Together (CF 218)
Trumpeter and improvising composer Nate Wooley is a tough person to keep a bead on, mainly because with each passing year, his discography gets ever lengthier and his work broadens in scope. Able to bridge the worlds of modern creative (jazz) and noise/experimental music with seeming little effort, the intrepid listener/collector has a lot to keep track of. Another challenge is the fact that he approaches each end of that spectrum with honesty, curiosity, and believability – in other words, he sounds utterly convincing as a noise musician as he does a jazz player, which is far from an easy feat. On (Put Your) Hands Together, Wooley leads a quintet that follows in the framework of modal post-bop that his work in drummer Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day evinces, but with a decidedly hard-edged spin. He’s joined by Eisenstadt and Canada Day bassist Eivind Opsvik, vibraphonist Matt Moran and Josh Sinton on bass clarinet for a program of ten originals, three of which are different versions of the piece “Shanda Lea,” named for Wooley’s wife. In fact, all of the compositions here are named for important women in the trumpeter’s life.

The first iteration of “Shanda Lea” opens the disc, heartfelt and lilting cadenzas with little turns and swallows that bridge harrowing flurries. There would be a tendency to hear this as a starting coda, or even a run-through of approaches to the trumpet, but it is in fact a self-contained and poetic solo composition that more than holds its own. The title track follows and is strikingly reminiscent of Andrew Hill’s “Ghetto Lights” in its laconic slink; Wooley’s solo takes on the hardbop lexicon and toys with it, building out from Woody Shaw-like arpeggios into bold, screaming peals and subtonal chatter. Sinton follows in trio with free-time squawk that gets into the low-down dirty side of Dolphy to an almost grotesque degree. It’s hard not to think of Bobby Hutcherson in Moran’s glassy swing, ricocheting off the push of Eisenstadt’s drums before Wooley and Sinton return with the head. “Erna” is a different sort of piece, bowed vibes and soft patter leading before the quintet moves cautiously into a march, unifying iterations of the stair-stepped theme. From a short Sinton-Wooley duo on “Shanda Lea,” moving from stateliness to daring pierce, the quintet returns for “Ethyl” and its hanging, cyclical minimalism. While the bar lines reflect roundly suspended areas and quiet control, the improvised sections allow Sinton stretching room over a tugging rhythm. The degree to which Wooley has orchestrated this ensemble allows one to hear beyond his voicings in duo with Opsvik, or in a cracking trio with Eisenstadt, and feel the entirety of the group without necessarily anticipating its direction. Sure, this is a strong “jazz quintet” record, but Hands Together is so well organized and diverse that it is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

Ni Kantu review by Clifford Allen

ARRIVE – There Was (CF 217)
CYLINDER – Cylinder (CF 219)
Composer-reedman Aram Shelton is a very unassuming character, which is partly why his trajectory is so interesting to watch. Based in Oakland, California for the past several years while studying at Mills College, he’s still found time to maintain his Chicago roots, playing with cooperative ensembles like Fast Citizens and Rolldown as well as various West Coast aggregations. As an improviser, he’s probably one of the most consistently exciting altoists on the contemporary scene, having studied intently the music of historic messengers like Jackie McLean, Gary Bartz, Roscoe Mitchell and Anthony Braxton and wrapping it all into his own conception. Two recent discs on the Clean Feed label put an excellent spotlight on some of Shelton’s activities – namely, the quartets Arrive (which began in Chicago) and the decidedly Bay Area band Cylinder.

Arrive features fellow Rolldown members Jason Adasiewicz (vibes) and Jason Roebke (bass) along with drummer Tim Daisy, and There Was is their second disc to date. The opening title piece gradually shifts from spare tonal exploration to sharp alto pirouettes atop a taut, active thrum, Roebke’s fistfuls making this groove edgily pliant and brightly accented. The vibist’s solo shows just how much he’s progressed over the last few years, bright pools and fragmentary sub-tunes making themselves clear in one of the most strikingly (no pun intended) individual statements on the instrument in recent memory. “Frosted” exhibits a shredded view of a nocturnal half-ballad as Shelton takes a caressing tone and eviscerates it with gutsy near squall, at other times making coagulated blues. Adasciewicz matches delicacy with crisp, snaking movement in a mirror to the saxophonist’s devilish turns before Daisy inflects the tune with calypso-like rhythms. From the lilting melody of “Lost,” it’s a quick transition into Roebke’s woody muscle, using hands, bow and forearms to craft tensile opposition. Reprising the theme, its resonance is catchy and Shelton’s blistering statements rekindle the fiery gobs of AACM sound as much as they do an aggressively-tinged hardbop push. He’s clearly a player who knows two divergent traditions well, but his own work as an instrumentalist-composer is to find ways to bring them together.

Cylinder is the cooperative quartet of Shelton, trumpeter Darren Johnston, bassist Lisa Mezzacappa and drummer Kjell Nordeson (who splits his time between California and Stockholm). The trumpeter composed the opening “The Ear That Was Sold to a Fish,” which recalls the John Carter-Bobby Bradford Quartet in its uneasy funereal unison before splaying out into curling alto, as meaty pizzicato bass and Nordeson’s light rattle build a rhythm environment. “The Deep Disciplines” pits short, darting segments against sawing insistence, alto and trumpet in loose commentary atop a swaying hull and obsessive patter. A drummer who builds his language from small rimshots, highly-tuned taps and deadened thuds, Nordeson is one of the most engaging parts of this quartet, especially as he counters Mezzacappa’s robust and steadfast bass playing. The pair tugs at one another on the brief “Shells,” written by the drummer as a chunky rhythmic exploration that soon steps out of bounds while horns pile on with cutting interplay. Mezzacappa’s closing “Earthworm” is a spacious roil with bass clarinet and drums played off of rude harmonic scrawl in varying degrees of density. Cylinder presents a solid program of piano-less quartet music and, while not all of it is entirely distinctive, the contrasts between the group’s four personalities should make for excellent future results. Both discs are a fine place to introduce oneself to Aram Shelton’s music.

Time Out Lisboa review by José Carlos Fernandes

Gerry Hemingway – Riptide (CF 227)
Riptide é aquilo que em português chamamos “agueiro”, uma corrente superficial de refluxo que se dirige da praia para o largo. Nas notas de capa, Brian Morton, editor do The Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings, traça uma analogia iluminadora: tal como o nadador incauto tende a entrar em pânico quando é apanhado num agueiro, acabando por esgotar-se a nadar contra a corrente, também o ouvinte que sente “ansiedade na presença de música contemporânea, não consegue compreender o que subjaz ao caos aparente”. E, no entanto, sob a superfície “há ordem. Há pontos imóveis no meio do que parece ser movimento incessante”.

O quinteto do baterista Gerry Hemingway tem 26 anos, conheceu instrumentações diversas e tem acolhido nomes grados do jazz moderno. A sua discografia – quase toda indisponível, desgraçadamente – tem sempre propostas frescas, o que pode atribuir-se à permanente renovação da equipa, mas também decorrre do minucioso labor de composição e arranjo do líder. Após dois CDs (muito recomendáveis) do quarteto de Hemingway, a Clean Feed traz novas do quinteto, com Oscar Noriega (sax alto e clarinetes), Ellery Eskelin (sax tenor), Terrence MacManus (guitarra) e Kermit Driscoll (baixo eléctrico e contrabaixo), sendo o último o único a transitar da anterior formação.

A música flutua entre o jazz de câmara, a pop africana e subtis grooves funk e vai do ambiente tenso pontuado pelos grasnidos frenéticos dos sopros em “Riptide” à descontracção festiva e soalheira de “Backabacka” e “At Anytime”. Não há swing clássico (excepto num breve trecho de “Holler Up”), mas não há que ter receio, mesmo quando os solos obsessivos-convulsivos de guitarra (“Gitar” e “Meddle Music”) puxam para o largo. Não lute contra a corrente. Deixe-se ir.

Time Out Lisboa review by José Carlos Fernandes

Big bands: Passado, presente & futuro

Chegam simultaneamente ao mercado reedições de duas big bands clássicas e a estreia de uma big band multinacional que tem o futuro todo à sua frente.

Em 1964, Quincy Jones tinha apenas 31 anos mas o seu melhor já ficara para trás (está coligido na caixa ABC/Mercury Big Band Jazz Sessions, elogiada nestas páginas quando saiu em 2008) e revelava uma crescente submissão a imperativos comerciais que acabariam por afastá-lo do jazz. Em QJ Explores the Music Of Henry Mancini (Verve/Universal, **) o elenco é de luxo – Zoot Sims, Phil Woods, Roland Kirk, Clark Terry, Snooky Young, Ernie Royal, Quentin Jackson, Gary Burton – mas é impotente para salvar um repertório de bandas sonoras de TV e cinema (não faltam à chamada a Pantera Cor-de-Rosa e Peter Gunn) servido em orquestrações brilhantes e frívolas.

Igual brilho e mais consistência caracterizam Basie Land (Verve/Universal, ***), um registo do mesmo ano pela orquestra de Count Basie com composições e arranjos de Billy Byers (que também participa no disco de Quincy Jones). A orquestra de Basie era uma máquina poderosa e bem oleada mas com excepção de “Gymnastics” e “Doodle-Oodle” (com bons solos de sax cruzados de Eric Dixon e Frank Foster), em que ganha ímpeto de comboio-expresso, limita-se a circular pacatamente, com paragem em todas as estações.

Ambos os discos, o de Basie e o de Jones, exibem excelente som para a idade, mas a informação, como é apanágio da série Originals, é omissa, fragmentária ou ilegível.

Mudança de agulha e de século, para a estreia em disco, com Live in Coimbra (Clean Feed/Trem Azul, ****), da EMJO (European Movement Jazz Orchestra). A EMJO alinha jovens músicos da Alemanha, Portugal e a Eslovénia e foi concebida para ter actividade apenas em 2007, ano em que aqueles três países partilharam a presidência da UE, mas acabou por ganhar vida própria – e uma vida bem excitante, a crer neste concerto no Salão Brazil, no festival Jazz ao Centro de 2010. O nome mais sonante das fileiras da EMJO é o sobredotado trompetista alemão Matthias Schriefl e não é por acaso que o tema de sua lavra, “Köln Kuddelmuddel”, é o momento alto do CD: abertura em toada monkiana, a que se sucede uma charanga circense, algum jazz-funk e, após um solo de bateria, uma fanfarra obsessiva que entra numa imparável espiral de loucura. A peça mais convencional é “Impresija”, da Kaja Draksler, que só é arrancada à modorra por um solo endemoninhado de sax soprano (Uwe Steinmetz). O trombonista Paulo Perfeito assina “E.S.T.”, uma peça que evoca o trio homónimo, com as suas melodias singelas e arrebatadoras.

O futuro da UE seria certamente mais radioso se os seus líderes exibissem a coesão, ousadia e criatividade desta vintena de alemães, portugueses e eslovenos.