Monthly Archives: December 2011

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

Kris Davis Aeriol Piano (CF 233)
Tony Malaby Novela (CF 232)

Entre las grabaciones publicadas por el sello portugués Clean Feed durante los últimos meses destaca Aeriol Piano, primera grabación en solitario de la joven pianista canadiense Kris Davis. Una artista con una discografía no muy abundante, pero que ya se había hecho notar con CD como Paradoxical Frog (en Clean Feed) o con Anti-House (Intakt) de la saxofonista Ingrid Laubrock. El disco es uno de los más interesantes en este formato de los publicados en los últimos meses. Quizás como una declaración de principios, el disco comienza con una versión del clásico “All The Things You Are” que Davis va construyendo desde fuera (lo improvisado), hacia dentro (la reconocible melodía del tema). Le siguen unas creaciones que aparecen sumamente trabajadas y muestran un universo fascinante. Aunque en algún momento su música puede parecer cercana a las creaciones para artilugios mecánicos de creadores como Conlon Nancarrow (aunque sin el virtuosismo humanamente imposible de ese compositor), en otros recuerda en su lentitud y melancolía a la música de Federico Mompou. En una situación opuesta, hay temas en los que se muestra sumamente intensa en su virtuosismo.

La pianista también aparece en el CD Novela del saxofonista Tony Malaby. Además de tocar su instrumento, se encarga de los arreglos de las seis composiciones. Tony Malaby es uno de esos saxofonistas que suelen pasar desapercibidos ante el gran público, y que sin embargo tiene tras de sí una discografía muy consistente. En esta ocasión graba en directo una colección de temas que ya había publicado anteriormente, aunque la principal novedad es el gran grupo que le acompaña. Por allí están el trompetista Ralph Alessi, el baterista y percusionista John Hollenbeck (de Claudia Quintet entre otros grupos, o acompañante de Meredith Monk). Llama también la atención una formación con una potente sección de vientos integrada por tres saxofones (soprano y tenor, alto, y barítono), clarinete bajo, trombón, trompeta y tuba, más piano y batería – percusión. Los temas son un placer auditivo de principio a fin. Si en uno sobresalen el trombón y la tuba (por poner un ejemplo), en el siguiente lo hacen los arreglos. Si en otro momento los solos son la parte importante, a continuación la música nos atrapa distribuida en distintas secciones. También es destacable los diferentes caracteres que toman las piezas, yendo de lo más directo y animado, a lo más abstracto y aparentemente árido. Kris Davis demuestra con estos dos discos que es otra de esas grandes nuevas pianistas que están irrumpiendo en la escena, alguien a quien habrá que seguir con mucha atención.
http://bun.tomajazz.com/2011/12/kris-davis-aeriol-tony-malaby-novela.html

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New York Times review for Novela´s CD launch by Nate Chinen

Roiling Through an Undertow

Tony Malaby  (tenor and soprano saxophone), Ben Gerstein (trombone), Joachim Badenhorst (bass clarinet), Dan Peck (tuba), Michaël Attias (alto saxophone), Andrew Hadro (baritone saxophone) and Ralph Alessi (trumpet) at Jazz Gallery.

The tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby has a burly but beseeching tone, and in his own bands he often pushes toward an amiable ruckus. Novela, the nine-piece band he presented at the Jazz Gallery on Sunday night, takes this predilection to its logical extreme. Drawing from “Novela” (Clean Feed), an album released in September, the group played a sprawling set of faintly episodic, heavily textured music, pausing only a couple of times to re-establish a center of gravity. The distinctive color of Mr. Malaby’s voice, on soprano as well as tenor, was often lost on a crowded canvas. He seemed totally fine with that.

To some extent “Novela” is a retrospective for him: its repertory consists of reworked compositions from albums going back almost 20 years. What gives this album its own identity is the lineup of timbres, with three saxophones, along with bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone, tuba, piano and drums. All the arrangements are by the pianist and composer Kris Davis, a longtime associate of Mr. Malaby.

Periodically during the first set Ms. Davis left her piano bench to conduct the ensemble, usually during a slow-dawning, expectant ballad. Her voicings tended to suggest a troubled serenity, with chords full of close intervals for the horn-and-reeds brigade. “Floating Head,” the set opener, had a strong, brackish undertow, with tuba, baritone saxophone and bass clarinet puffing a vamp in triple meter; the rest of the ensemble played a sprightly polyrhythm, moving against the grain. The ideal seemed to be a classic Charles Mingus roil, knockabout but self-assured. It didn’t quite get there.

The uncertain feeling in the set’s first half probably had something to do with all the free improvisation that cropped up within the tunes. Which isn’t a knock on the playing. One potent scramble near the end of “Floating Head” involved just Dan Peck, on tuba, and Ben Gerstein, on trombone. A full-ensemble blast, near the end of “Floral and Herbaceous,” delivered some sharp disorientation, a cacophony of whinnies and squeals. And a duet between Ms. Davis and the alto-saxophonist Michaël Attias was full of reflective tension and sly allusions to the chord changes of “All the Things You Are.”

What really worked, on a full-band basis, was the twinkling delirium of “Warblepeck,” with the drummer John Hollenbeck hammering toylike mallet-percussion instruments, and the trumpeter Ralph Alessi soloing above the fray. Something even more compellingly feverish came at the set’s close: “Remolino,” an incantation in the spirit of Albert Ayler, with everyone in the band intoning the melodic line as one.

Soon after that collective fanfare had passed, the band moved on to a sinuous groove in 5/4 meter, and Mr. Malaby took an impassioned soprano-saxophone solo, building his argument around the shape of the melody. It was woolly but coherent: his most unambiguous showcase of the set, and the one that threw the whole picture into focus.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/20/arts/music/tony-malabys-novela-at-jazz-gallery-review.html?_r=2

All About Jazz Italy review by Gigi Sabelli

Tony Malaby – Novela (CF 232)
Valutazione: 4 stelle
Il nuovo lavoro del talentuoso Malaby – che si conferma anche qui una delle voci più notevoli del nuovo panorama jazz americano – è un affresco dai numerosi colori opachi in cui spiccano le belle idee della pianista Kris Davis, che ha firmato tutti gli arrangiamenti. La vasta strumentazione (sette fiati, piano e batteria) viene usata secondo diverse soluzioni e abbinamenti timbrici, che finiscono per creare con straordinaria originalità paesaggi sonori del tutto inusuali e diversificati o brani in cui l’improvvisazione e le diverse costruzioni timbriche sfociano in più temi lungo la stessa traccia.

Difficile fare una disamina precisa del disco, talmente sono i registri in gioco, gli strumenti e per il grado di osmosi tra temi e improvvisazioni, ma si possono fare comunque degli esempi parziali ma eloquenti: nell’iniziale “Floating Head” un chorus in sei ottavi si sfalda in una libertà granulosa lasciando spazio a numerosi innesti di fiati; in “Cosas” il pindarico solo di sax alto sfocia in un dialogo libero con tutti gli altri strumenti che poi si compattano in un’orchestra architettata tra geometrie tradizionali su un tempo latineggiante; in “Remolino” i due mood che si incontrano sono una sgangherata fanfara e un inquietante temino noir costruito su note minori di pianoforte.

Anche sul piano strumentale Malaby sembra aver poco da invidiare a chiunque: il suo tenore è corposo, doloroso e vitale allo stesso tempo, mentre al soprano ha un fraseggio ritmicamente inesauribile e in perenne contrasto col tessuto su cui si innesta.

Come è sempre successo sin dai tempi del free (di cui gran parte dei dischi della Clean Feed sembrano proporre alcune tra le più credibili evoluzioni), l’impegno richiesto all’ascoltatore è notevole, ma in questo caso lo è anche il grado di intelligenza e di profondità per decibel con cui si è ripagati.
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=7303

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

The Ames Room – Bird Dies (CF 231)
****
“The Ames Room is French altoist Jean-Luc Guionnet with Austrialians Clayton Thomas on bass and Will Guthrie on drums. This album is without a doubt one of the most intense you will hear, with Guionnet setting up the pace and sound from the start and then not letting go at all, despite the numerous variations within the very strict boundaries in which their cry of freedom erupts. This album is indeed one long shout, all in the same spirit : voluminous, expansive, full of drive and energy, relentless and raw, with a take-no-prisoners approach. The accompanying press kit speaks of “terror jazz”, and the descriptor is not too far fetched.”

This is how I described the band’s album “In” released last year. I cannot add much more for this album : it is as ferocious, energetic and relentless, even further pushed to the limit because the album contains one single fourty-eight minute track, as recorded live in Lille, France in March 2010. Both Thomas and Guthrie have the approach of a rock band, bringing them closer to The Thing than to Brötzmann, while Guionnet keeps on hitting the same mid-range sonic attack with a limited choice of notes, no lyricism to speak of, but all repetitive assault of the senses, hypnotic, mad, as if something’s got to give way, like an endless cry …

For those of you who like to spice up their meals with dynamite, don’t hesitate to buy this one.
http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/

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.
http://scriveredijazz.blogspot.com/

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)
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=41017

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.
http://timeoutchicago.com/music-nightlife/music/15054295/top-10-jazz-albums-of-the-year-2011-in-review