Daily Archives: December 20, 2011

Scrivere di Jazz review by Giuseppe Mavilla

Baloni – Fremdenzimmer (CF 237)
Sarebbe riduttivo collocare esclusivamente in ambito jazz il trio formato da Joachim Badenhorst, bass clarinet, clarinet e tenor sax, Frantz Loriot, viola e Pascal Niggenkemper, contrabbasso, perché si tratta di musicisti che pur esprimendosi  attraverso una dialettica prettamente jazzistica  caratterizzano il loro linguaggio  con sonorità molto vicine alla musica da camera e con una costante enfasi creativa d’avanguardia. Badenhorst, belga,  è  membro del trio del celebre batterista Han Bennink e attualmente fa anche parte dell’ensemble “Novela” del sassofonista Tony Malaby di cui è appena uscito l’omonimo album. Loriot, franco-giapponese, ha militato nei gruppi di musicisti come Joelle Léandre, Barre Philips, David S.Ware e Anthony Braxton. Niggenkemper, franco-tedesco, è uno dei membri del trio HNH  che ha dato alle stampe l’omonimo cd; è componente del quartetto che ha inciso il pregevole Polylemma ed è  titolare dello splendido Upcoming Hurricane dove è affiancato da due esponenti della downtown newyorkese:  il pianista Simon Nabatov e il batterista Gerard Cleaver.  Questo  recente Fremdenzimmer, inciso per la intraprendente etichetta portoghese Clean Feed, è firmato “Baloni” nome assunto dal trio unendo le prime due lettere  dei  loro cognomi. Si tratta di una produzione di grande valore: un misto di  originalità e  azzardo che premia la ferma volontà del trio di uscire da canoni espressivi già conosciuti. L’iniziale “Lokomotive” è il biglietto da visita del trio, un brano fluido, in continua metamorfosi con i tre musicisti in piena simbiosi interattiva: i tre strumenti sembrano muoversi in assoluta assonanza sonora. Niggenkemper, come fa spesso, usa in prevalenza l’archetto, i suoni si mescolano, si sovrappongono e poi ancora si evidenziano con analiticità. In “Searching” traccia n.3 delle 11 contenute nel cd c’è un dialogo elaborato anche sul versante delle sonorità tra i fiati e la viola con il contrappunto del contrabbasso; frazioni di studio si alternano ad altre imbevute di leggera tensione in un crescendo vibrante di sottile armonia e ritmo. I toni gravi che sopraggiungono spengono i timidi raggi di luminosità poco prima avvistati e l’atmosfera si fa rarefatta con il sopraggiungere di “Torsado” che vede in primo piano la viola di Loriot. Il solo del franco-giapponese è impregnato di grande partecipazione emotiva, l’archetto preme con violenza sulle corde mentre contrabbasso (con l’archetto) e fiati si affiancano con un ciclico giro armonico. Il clima dell’intera produzione si realizza in questa dimensione di ricercata attività improvvisativa e lo si scopre andando avanti nell’ascolto: Badenhorst, Loriot e Niggenkemper ricercano l’assoluto orizzonte di un’ideale commistione tra le varie essenze della musica contemporanea e riuscire a percepirne i contrasti, le affinità e le possibili sintesi per poi riproporle nella dimensione temporale e definita di una produzione discografica è sicuramente di grande merito. Stridulo, delicato, tempestoso ma straordinariamente unico e affascinante: questo è Fremdenzimmer.

Tory Collins Best of 2011 List at All About Jazz

Compiling end of the year lists is never easy. Considering the quantity of recordings issued during a year, attempting to mention every noteworthy session would result in a list of epic proportions. These few albums are a cross-section of some of the best modern jazz released in 2011, highlighting sophisticated new developments in composition and improvisation—from coast to coast.

New Releases

Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet – Apparent Distance (Firehouse 12)
Kermit Driscoll – Reveille (Leo)
FAB Trio – History of Jazz in Reverse (TUM)
Vinny Golia Octet – Music for Baritone Saxophone (Nine Winds)
Rich Halley Quartet – Requiem For A Pit Viper (Pine Eagle)
Joel Harrison String Choir – The Music of Paul Motian (Sunnyside)
Gerry Hemingway Quintet – Riptide (Clean Feed)
Jason Kao Hwang Edge – Crossroads Unseen (Euonymus)
Darius Jones Trio – Big Gurl (Smell My Dream) (AUM Fidelity)
Nicole Mitchell – Awakening (Delmark)
Ivo Perelman Quartet – The Hour of the Star (Leo)
David S. Ware, et al. – Planetary Unknown (AUM Fidelity)

Time Out Chicago Best of 2011 list by Areif Sless-Kitain

My aim with this year’s roundup was to assemble a list without regard to geography, so I’m either terribly biased or it was just a happy coincidence that Chicago players (past and present) appear on at least half of these albums. Then again, given the collaborative nature of the jazz world, there’s really only a degree or two of separation at most between any of these improvisers. Many (Dawkins, King, Malaby, Mazurek, Taborn) have performed here within the past year, and it’s safe to say the rest have passed through town in the year or so before that. Except Ambrose Akinmusire. Perhaps we can persuade Joe Segal, Michael Orlove or the Umbrella fellas to bring that guy out here in 2012.

1. Amir El Saffar Inana (Pi Recordings)
Chicago native El Saffar folds meditative improvisations into Middle Eastern modes, wedding Western music and Iraqi maqam in a cross-cultural exchange that’s hypnotic and utterly unique.

2. Ambrose Akinmusire When the Heart Emerges Glistening (Blue Note) The title suggests romance, but the breakout trumpeter aims instead for the stars on his Blue Note debut with heat-seaking chromatic flights.

3. Matana Roberts COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres Constellation) Former Velvet Lounge regular Roberts captures her concept-rooted narrative in a concert that’s more performance art than postbop, a powerful and provocative monument both to her ancestry and the jazz tradition.

4. Craig Taborn Avenging Angel (ECM)
The pianist turns in a delicate solo date for ECM that has him searching for answers under each of the 88 keys.

5. Peter Evans Quintet Ghosts (More Is More Records)
A joyous bop skewering that lives up to its name, filtered through an electronic prism. Sam Pluta’s real-time refractions haunt an album that would otherwise be surprisingly straight-ahead.

6. Matt Bauder Day in Pictures (Clean Feed)
Elegant originals from a former Chicagoan, whose dynamic quintet features some of NYC’s most daring players including pianist Angelica Sanchez and erstwhile rodan/Heaven Gallery fixture Jason Ajemian on bass.

7. Ernest Dawkins’ New Horizons Ensemble The Prairie Prophet (Delmark) A fond farewell to Fred Anderson that swings as fiercely and fearlessly as you’d expect of any group operating under the AACM credo.

8. Tony Malaby Novela (Clean Feed)
Rising pianist Kris Davis handles the ominous arrangements for this ambitious nonet, rooting through Malaby’s back catalogue and re-imagining it for multiple reeds and brass.

9. São Paulo Underground Tres Cabeças Loucuras (Cuneiform)
Rob Mazurek returns to Brazil and floats his cool blue cornet over a spellbinding collage of saturated textures, syncopated rhythms and sundry electronics.

10. Dave King Trucking Company Good Old Light (Sunnyside)
The name suggests weigh stations rather than woodshedding, but the Bad Plus drummer’s latest vehicle is a lot more nuanced than you might expect, thanks in part to an impressive twin sax front line.

Tileskopio review by Nicolas Malevitsis

The Ames Room – Bird Dies (CF 231)
οι ames room είναι ένα τρίο που λατρεύω. τρίο που απαρτίζεται απο τους clayton thomas κοντραμπάσσο, jean luc guionnet άλτο σαξόφωνο και will guthrie ντραμς. κλασσικό τζάζ / φρη τζαζ τρίο κυριολεκτικά. η πρώτη τους κυκλοφορία το περσινό in στη monotype ήταν (και παραμένει) δίσκος που με είχε ξετρελλάνει όχι μόνο για τη μουσική του αλλά και για την αισθητική του μια που μου έβγαζε μια ολοκληρωμένη αισθητική του τρίο αλλά και ένα αίσθημα που μου θύμιζε 70ς τζαζ όπως περίπου και ο ήχος τους.

εύλογα θα πεί κάποιος, καλά μεγάλε δεν ακούμε καλύτερα αντίστοιχα 70ς σύνολα παρά αυτούς; η πλάκα με τους ames room είναι ότι μπορεί απο τη μία μεριά να μου βγάζουν αυτό το συναίσθημα απο την άλλη ο ήχος τους είναι κυριολεκτικά ‘σημερινός’ (θα μπορούσα να τον πώ ‘φρέσκο’) γιατί είναι τρείς μουσικοί που χάρι στην πορεία τους στη μουσική βγάζουν ότι καλύτερο έχουν να δώσουν απο τον εαυτό τους σε αυτό το τρίο. αυτό γίνεται και στο bird dies, τελευταία ηχογράφηση τους απο περιοδεία δύο εβδομάδων στο κορύφωμα της οποίας το τρίο βγάζει τον πιο δεμένο και δημιουργικό εαυτό του με μια μουσική που σε παρασέρνει με τις προοπτικές της και την ευθύτητα της. περισσότερο free απο το in και πιο ‘στη μάπα σου’ παίξιμο που μ’ έχει κάνει απο χθές που ρθε να τον έχω ακούσει ήδη τρείς φορές. απίστευτο τρίο, απίστευτη δυναμική, απο τα γκρούπ που θα γούσταρα να δώ ζωντανά (πόσο μάλλον να εκδώσω…). για όσους ψάχνουν πραγματικά ’ελεύθερη’ μουσική…

Dans Journal d’écoute review by Maxime Bouchard

Joe Hertenstein – HNH (CF 205)
Un autre bon album du vaste catalogue de Clean Feed. Dans un style très épuré et relâché, les trois musiciens improvisent autour de quelques thèmes parfois bluesy et souvent entrainants. Ça le son Clean Feed, c’est pas trop free, juste assez avant-jazz avec repères mélodiques. Des musiciens top niveau explorant les nombreuses facettes qu’offrent leurs instruments tout en gardant la dominante dans une certaine tradition. La trompette de Heberer libère un son tortueux et languissant, plaintif et rond. Encore une fois, rien ne presse ici. La rythmique est très free et variable, parfois ça swing fort, parfois c’est plus doux, à peine l’on frotte les peaux de la batterie, le souffle se fait discret. Le batteur Hertenstein (le leader du trio) sait bien doser son énergie tout en nuance, apportant la petite touche de fun là où il le faut. Il ne joue pas trop fort. Au final, nous avons un album relativement “mid-tempo” où la qualité sonore et d’ensemble se retrouve dans la délicatesse et le bon dosage de l’expression.

Ben Ratliff’s Best of 2011 list at The New York Times

1. PISTOL ANNIES “Hell on Heels” (Columbia Nashville) The country singer Miranda Lambert’s side project with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley turned out to be loose, wise, tough, well written, well sung and more in tune with the debt-stricken American moment than her own record this year.

2. JASON MORAN/ROBERT GLASPER DOUBLE TRIO (Live, 1/15/11, streamableat wbgo.org/thecheckout/houstonians-in-nyc-live-at-92y-tribeca/) A 54-minute set of two free-form, convulsive, style-shifting songs, performed during the Houston-centric festival at the 92nd Street Y TriBeCa, programmed by the pianist Mr. Moran, and recorded for broadcast by WBGO (88.3 FM). (Mr. Moran on electric keyboard and Mr. Glasper on piano; Mark Kelley on electric bass and Alan Hampton on acoustic; Chris Dave and Eric Harland on drums.) When it ended, I felt that it said so much about where jazz is now — inasmuch as it is black music, popular music, regional music, improvised music and a philosophy of play — that I didn’t need to hear any more for a while. (If we can call it an album, it’s a better extended statement than most I heard this year; hence the inclusion of so many jazz album tracks in my singles list.)

3. TIM HECKER “Ravedeath, 1972” (Kranky) A beautiful and often brilliant dark-ambient record, a 12-part poem of immensity. There’s a real pipe organ at the heart of this album, recorded in a church in Iceland; loops and layers, distortions and fragmentations do the rest.

4. PAUL SIMON “So Beautiful or So What” (Hear Music/Concord) Not just his best record in a couple of decades but also a reminder of how resourceful he is as a composer — and a singer! — and how worthwhile his big thoughts (in this case, on faith and mortality) can be.

5. YOB “Atma” (Profound Lore) Doom metal at its most refined, gnashing and obsessive, with songs that take long stretches to climb their mountains, paying close attention to guitar touch and tone.

6. KRIS DAVIS “Aeriol Piano” (Clean Feed) Not the most representative album for Ms. Davis as a jazz pianist per se, but a solo-piano record of serious organization and thrift, around ideals of jazz and minimalism. (There is an “All the Things You Are” here for the ages.)
7. DEAF CENTER “Owl Splinters” (Type) I guess it was my dark-ambient year. Deaf Center is a Norwegian duo who play piano and cello with long tones, far-reaching sustain, carefully overlapping dissonances and wizardly use of audio space.

8. CRAIG TABORN “Avenging Angel” (ECM) Guess it was my solo-piano year too. Craig Taborn has played in so many contexts around jazz over the last 20 years that he seemed due for a solo record; that it would be this wide and thoughtful still came as a small surprise.

9. KENDRICK LAMAR “Section.80” (Top Dawg Entertainment) Mr. Lamar, a prolix young rapper from Compton, Calif., is neither much of a link to the ’80s Compton rappers before him nor the tricksterish Internet hip-hop around him. Musically, morally and otherwise his first album is all over the road, messing with Southern rap, R&B, spacey funk and fusion jazz, telling cautionary tales and generational observations, extolling natural beauty and keeping his own counsel.

10. MIA DOI TODD “Cosmic Ocean Ship” (City Zen) Redolent of Brazilian bossa nova, South American Nueva Canción and ’70s Los Angeles pop, Mia Doi Todd’s calm voice and simple songwriting illumine a meditative eco-beach record, perfectly poised and out of step.

Stash Dauber reviews

Some good jazz records, mostly on Clean Feed
I said I wasn’t going to write a lot this month, but then in the middle of a John Fahey binge (Georgia Stomps, Atlanta Struts and Other Contemporary Dance Favorites and Womblife), an envelope arrived from Lisbon bearing the latest from Clean Feed, the Portuguese label that’s established itself as the Blue Note of the ‘teens, including a couple that I just had to hear right away.

Live in L.A. (CF 241) documents a performance from a trio consisting of trumpeter Bobby Bradford, bassist Mark Dresser, and trombonist Glenn Ferris. Bradford’s a Mississippi-born, Texas-bred Californian and familiar of Fort Worth eminences Ornette Coleman (he’s all over Science Fiction) and John Carter who’s led his own Mo’tet since the early ’90s. Dresser’s worked with Anthony Braxton, among others, while Ferris is an Angeleno who’s lived and taught in France since the ’80s. Together they play a cerebral brand of chamber jazz, with Bradford — heard here on cornet — and Ferris intertwining contrapuntal lines and Dresser moving seamlessly between arco and pizzicato attacks. On “Bamboo Shoots,” all three instruments play vocally-inflected lines, to which one of the musicians adds a sung response. An intimately alive and organic set.

So Soft Yet (CF 243) is the latest encounter between redoubtable Dallas trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez and Portuguese pianist Joao Paulo Esteves da Silva, with whom he shared a previous Clean Feed release, 2009’s Scapegrace. On this 2010 reunion, Gonzalez employs the electronics (mainly an octave splitter) that he eschewed on their first meeting, and Joao Paulo divides his time between acoustic and electric pianos and accordion. On the electric instrument, he sometimes plays percussive and modal figures that give the music the feel of a two-man Bitches Brew. His accordion gives the sound a lyrical lilt. On “El Destierro,” both men play unusually sparsely, using silence and space to heighten the impact of the notes that are played. Impressive artistry, beautifully registered.

Frog Leg Logic (CF 242) is the latest outing from reedman Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet. The ebullient title track explodes out of the gate, showcasing the group’s orchestral heft — impressive for such a small unit — and improvisational aplomb. Cellist Hank Roberts can function as a timekeeper or a third melodic voice, as needed. “Ballade” is a lovely lament that breaks down into a blues following the initial thematic statement. Trumpeter James Zollar plays a solo that shifts seamlessly between muted growls and post-bop angularity. When the theme returns in a wash of lyrical beauty, it gives the track a nicely complete feel. “You Can Beat the Slanted Cards” features a seductively circuitous melody, with nicely spare trap-kicking from drummer Michael Sarin. Ehrlich’s an ace improviser on alto, soprano, and flute, but his true strength is as a composer and bandleader.

In that regard, he’s a direct descendent of his mentor, Fort Worth native Julius Hemphill, who made his initial impact in St. Louis in the early ’70s before heading to New York to found and lead the World Saxophone Quartet, as well as his own sextet and big band. Hemphill’s masterwork, Dogon A.D. — which he originally self-released in 1972 and Arista Freedom subsequently reissued in 1977 — made its first appearance on CD this year via International Phonograph, Inc., in a beautifully-packaged edition (heavy cardboard gatefold sleeve) that includes all four tracks from the original session (“The Hard Blues” wouldn’t fit on the original LP and so had to wait for 1975’s Coon Bid’ness to see the light of day). There are many elements and aspects of Dogon A.D. — the complex themes, Abdul Wadud’s cello, drummer Philip Wilson’s minimalist backbeat — that are echoed on Frog Leg Logic, but that’s no slight to Ehrlich. The Hemphill album’s influence on the last 30 years of creative jazz has been as inescapable as, say, Out To Lunch’s, making its reappearance the most welcome jazz reissue of 2011.