Daily Archives: January 9, 2012

Jazzwrap review by Stephen Moore

Best Albums of 2011:
Hugo Carvalhais JazzWrap revisits a great year of discoveries in 2001.

Hugo Carvalhais (bass) Nebulosa (CF 201)
I have probably listened to this record at least 3 times a month since the beginning of year. That might not sound like a lot but I’ve got a lot of music so trust me–it’s a lot. Hugo Carvalhais created a record in Nebulosa that is so dense yet vivid with imagination that you really have to stop, sit down, and focus your mind around the instrumentation and sonic resonance his group are shaping.

Even now almost two months later I’m finding new sounds and classical elements from Tim Berne (“Impala”) and from Gabriel Pinto (“Nebulosa II” and “Nebulosa III”) that I hadn’t noticed originally. Even the more contemporary flavor of “North” I’d hadn’t noticed until a few months ago. Carvalhais’ writing is sparse and allows for improvising at just the right moments.

The sonic adventure alone is just one of the many reasons why Nebulosa is one of my favourites of 20011. Check out our thoughts from earlier this year: Hugo Carvalhais Nebulosa.

San Diego Reader’s Best of 2011 list by Robert Bush

The International Top Ten Jazz Releases 2011
These are the ten best CDs to cross my path in 2011, regardless of geography. Some of them were recorded in New York, LA, and Portugal. Even still, the San Diego connection remains strong. Bert Turetzky, Mark Dresser, Peter Sprague and Geoffrey Keezer all released discs of global importance. Additionally, two musicians on this top-ten list spent years in San Diego: trombonists George Lewis and Michael Dessen. The final SD connection belongs to Jeff Kaiser, whose record label pfMENTUM is also represented.

1. Vinny Golia Octet Music For Baritone Saxophone ( NineWinds) Woodwind virtuoso Golia put together an adventurous and accessible recording with his stellar octet. Terrific arrangements and compositions and excellent solos from everyone, especially Golia’s monstrous “Tubax,” a refinement of the contrabass saxophone.
2. Bert Turetzky, George Lewis, Vinny Golia Triangulation II (Kadima Collective) No charts, no tunes, no discussions, just three of the world’s heaviest players improvising in the moment. Free jazz at its finest.
3. Michael Dessen Trio Forget The Pixel (Clean Feed)
Trombone / electronics master Dessen forges 21st century jazz with very few precedents. NYC compatriots Christopher Tordini’s bass and the multidirectional drums of Dan Weiss nail the constantly shifting metric landscapes of Dessen’s formidable compositions.
4. Bobby Bradford, Mark Dresser, Glenn Ferris Live In LA (Clean Feed)
Bradford has been a beacon for the free-improvising community in LA since the 1960s. This free-bop date sizzles from start to finish with elliptical, swinging solos and rock solid rhythms.

5. Dennis Gonzalez / Joao Paulo So Soft Yet (Clean Feed)
Dallas, Texas based trumpeter Gonzalez turns in an exquisite duet with pianist / accordion player Paulo. Extremely lyrical, the two men communicate on a deep level. Some of the pieces with electric piano hearken back to Miles Davis’ groundbreaking 1970s work. Sublime and surprising. Portuguese label Clean Feed is on this list multiple times for good reason.
6. Dick Wood Not Far From Here (pfMENTUM)
Another excellent example of where jazz might be heading in the 21st century, Woods combines Mark Trayle’s live electronics seamlessly into his core group of Hal Onserud on bass, Marty Mansour on percussion and Dan Clucas on trumpet. Wood takes elements of Ornette Coleman and John Zorn into his writing and improvising, and kicks ass throughout.
7. Trio M The Guest House (Enja)
Bay Area pianist Myra Melford, NYC drummer Matt Wilson and San Diego bassist Mark Dresser explore multiple improvising scenarios with compositions from each member. This collection ranges from the pensive to the furious.
8. Geoffrey Keezer / Peter Sprague Band Mill Creek Road (SBE Records) This disc represents yet another idea of where jazz music might be leaning in the future. Synthesizing elements from the bebop, world-music and free aesthetics, the influences of Chick Corea and Pat Metheny shine through in this album of wide variation and virtuosic execution.
9. Daniel Rosenboom Septet Fallen Angeles (Nine Winds)
Rosenboom’s tart, precise, clarion-call trumpet is joyously combined with the astringent alto saxophone of Gavin Templeton and the startling bass clarinet maneuvers of Brian Walsh in a frontline ably supported by David Rosenboom’s piano, Sam Minaie’s bass and Caleb Dolister’s drumming.
10. Vinny Golia Quartet Take Your Time (Relative Pitch)
Golia’s quartet combines long-time associates Bobby Bradford’s trumpet, Alex Cline’s drums and Ken Filiano’s bass in an ecstatic program of compositions that reference the work of Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman. Every solo tells a story in this wildly swinging collection.

The New York City Jazz Record review by John Sharpe

Jim Black – Somatic (Winter & Winter)
Achim Kaufmann – Verivyr (Pirouet)
Carlos Bica & Azul – Things About (Clean Feed)
Walter Beltrami – Paroxysmal Postural Vertigo (Auand)
Drummer Jim Black is in constant action on both sidesof the Atlantic. Renowned for his assertive but often skewed rhythmic foundation, Black challenges assumptions on these four discs. Black’s new trio, debuting on Somatic, might surprise those familiar with his recent history, in that it forsakes electricity for his swinging take on the piano tradition. Black’s all original program retains his simple understated melodies, which here launch more lyrical jazzy improvisations. It sounds as if the threesome, featuring Austrian wunderkind Elias Stemeseder and in-demand bassist Thomas Morgan, has been together for years due to their accomplished and sensitive interactions. Black himself is supportive and undemonstrative – he doesn’t take a solo in the whole set, but rather his off-kilter rhythms and odd breaks form just one of three equally-voiced parts. Morgan is authoritative, whether delivering pulse orcommentary, all in a full rounded tone. Stemeseder proves a promising talent, extending from the themes, building tension through repetition. It’s telling though that the fragmented “Protection”, the standout track, adds a touch more bite to the proceedings.

Verivyr, the sophomore outing from the German pianist Achim Kaufmann’s trio, features Black in the same setting but with rather more edge. They signal their intent straight from the git-go, unconventional textures to the fore: Kaufmann rubbing the piano strings for an eerie oscillation surrounded by indeterminate percussive noises. Black’s lurchingbeats rejoice in his patented quirky combination of remarkable timbres and accents, though still largely restrained in terms of power. With Valdi Kolli handling bass duties, together they indulge in busy three-way conversations that diverge and reunite around the pianist’s knotty themes, often barely hinting at meter, tune or lead instrument in a probing, questioning group ethos that could be a primer for the modern piano trio. Each track boasts unexpected twists, best exemplified by the episodic “Berlin No Lights”. Black is at his most insistent on the awry funk of “LeQuadrimoteur” over which Kaufmann pontificates in abstract but sparkling starbursts of notes.

Black holds down the drum stool on Things About, the fourth release from the longstanding trio Azul, anassured vehicle for responsive interplay around Portuguese bassist Carlos Bica’s lovely tunes. Black epitomizes delicacy and judiciousness, largely keeping time on brushes for most of the session, with just intimations of his latent potential in his idiosyncratic fills and bustling rattles. Bica projects a deeply enveloping sound and gives every note just the right amount of weight, as heard in his tasteful solos on the relaxed title track and the mournfully nagging “Cancao Vazia”. Frank Möbus’ electric guitar never overpowers, as he takes a string of graceful chiming solos in a rich warm singing tone with horn-like single-note lines. Separated from schmaltz by the intelligence of the guitar lines and the delicate poise of the bass and drums, an elegant simplicity pervades the set.

However on Italian guitarist Walter Beltrami’s Paroxysmal Postural Vertigo, Black is in his element, belaying all manner of sources in an impudent clatter. Based around aurally portraying the effects of vertigo, which suddenly afflicted Beltrami out of the blue, the guitarist successfully hints at the disjuncts and instability such a condition imposes through ten tight, fast-changing, sometimes portentous, sometimes catchy arrangements. There’s no grandstanding and the allstar cast is readily subservient to Beltrami’stunes. Vincent Courtois’ cello wails like an additional horn alongside Francesco Bearzatti’s energetic tenor saxophone and clarinet while Stomu Takeishi’s pliant rubbery electric bass meshes well with Black to create a swirling maelstrom on “Lilienthal”. With his imaginative use of rock idioms, the leader has created an exciting set packed with visceral thrills.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

SFE Simon Fell Ensemble – Positions and Descriptions. Composition Nº75 (CF 230)
Positions and Descriptions de Simon H. Fell es una pequeña obra maestra para una formación de quince músicos más director, en la que participaron el propio Fell, Joe Morris (como guitarrista), Tim Berne, Mark Sanders y Steve Beresford. La música, fascinante de principio a fin, transita por el jazz, la clásica contemporánea (la grabación se realizó en directo en el Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival), la libre improvisación e incluso tiene unos ciertos toques de tango. La composición interpretada a lo largo de la grabación aparece estructurada en cinco movimientos (divididos a su vez en sus correspondientes partes), unidos por cuatro breves interludios. El gran mérito de toda la formación fue lograr dar un sentido de continuidad a la música, en la que se van alternando momentos concretos y abstractos, transitando de pasajes suaves a otros intensos. Es también muy interesante la instrumentación encargada de interpretarla. A los saxos, clarinetes, flautas y trompeta, se unen otros instrumentos como el arpa y el violín (Mifune Tsuji está magnífica), así como el theremin y la electrónica. A pesar del poco tiempo que el ensemble tuvo para ensayar y preparar esta obra, el resultado es soberbio.

All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

Dennis Gonzalez / Joao Paulo – So Soft Yet (CF 243)
Recorded in Portugal, Texas trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez and Portuguese keyboardist Joao Paulo offer a temperate pastoral setting, grounded on the duo’s intake of regional sensibilities, ethnocentricities and emotive responses to cultural and spiritual components. With the effective use of space acting as a third instrument, the duo strikes an ethereal balance, spanning open-air panoramas, lush phrasings and resonating micro-themes via a largely unhurried gait.

The musicians infuse variable moods amid Paulo’s edgy and darkly woven electric keys to counter the resonating exchanges and peppery upsurges in pitch. Paulo also performs on acoustic piano, and uses the accordion to shade the proceedings with a mild sense of Spanish bravado. The artists sublimely present a study in contrasts, with contrapuntal maneuvers and orbital choruses in concert with an aggregation of softly stated peaks and valleys.

Gonzalez’s concise expressionism on cornet features a myriad of gradually ascending choruses, subtle trills and gently grooving statements. These factors are driven home on “Taking Root,” where Paulo’s pumping accordion lines perpetuate a sequence of drifting melodies and stately inferences. However, the musicians firmly implant the jazz improvisation component into the big picture.

The duo’s deterministic approach and irrefutable synergy provide a baseline for this endearing effort. It’s a change of pace from the respective artists discographies, often centered on avant, semi-free or power-packed structural underpinnings. It’s a symmetrical presentation that casts shadowy environs to complement many luminescent passages and keenly executed improvisational etudes along with dips, spikes and soul-stirring enactments.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

Harris Eisenstadt – September Trio (CF 229)
El baterista Harris Eisenstadt ha irrumpido con fuerza en el jazz durante los últimos años, a pesar de que ni es precisamente un novato (nació en 1975), ni un recién llegado (cuenta en su haber con más de diez discos a su nombre, y ha participado en más de cuarenta grabaciones). September Trio es el debut homónimo de una formación en la que Eisenstadt se encarga de las siete composiciones (que van de “September 1” a “September 7”), de la batería y percusión. Le acompañan el saxofonista Ellery Eskelin y la pianista Angelica Sanchez. Las composiciones se benefician de la enorme capacidad improvisadora de los tres músicos, aunque salvo en los dos últimos temas, el disco transcurre por unas sendas de una gran tranquilidad, con una música llena de espacios y de una especial melancolía. September Trio es una magnífica muestra de jazz compuesto e improvisación en el difícil formato de trío sin el soporte rítmico de un contrabajo al que no se echa en falta.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

Side A – A New Margin (CF 235)
No es la primera vez que el saxofonista y clarinetista Ken Vandermark colabora con el pianista de Atomic Havard Wiik. Ambos, junto al baterista Chad Taylor, han puesto en marcha la formación Side A, que se estrena con A New Margin. Los tres músicos se reparten casi a partes iguales la composición de los diez temas. Esto influye en la variedad de una propuesta que entronca con el free-bop, pero que también se permite otros momentos de una mayor abstracción. No es habitual encontrar a pianistas en las formaciones de Vandermark, aunque Wiik demuestra nuevamente que es un magnífico compañero para el de Boston. Chad Taylor, imprescindible en la escena de Chicago, muestra aquí sus poderosas razones musicales. El resultado quizás no sea la obra cumbre de una discografía tan abundante como la de Ken Vandermark, aunque estamos una vez más ante un muy buen disco.