Monthly Archives: February 2012

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Tony Malaby’s Novela: Interesting Larger Band Arrangements of Malaby Pieces by Kris Davis

Tony Malaby’s Novela (CF 232)
Tony Malaby’s recent release with his nine-member Novela group (Clean Feed 232) gives us a broader view of Malaby’s music than might be typical of his recordings. The four-reed, three brass (including baritone sax and tuba) front line-up provides a rich mini-big-band sonance. Kris Davis arranges the Malaby pieces and plays piano. John Hollenbeck’s drums add percussive drive.

All the Malaby compositions have been recorded previously on other albums. The new Kris Davis arrangements allow latitude, freedom and collective/individual solo time. And they present Malaby’s musical ideas in very full sound.

The results are quite impressive. Malaby, Attias, Badenhorst, Hadro, Alessi, Gerstein and Peck make the horn section sing and effectively straddle the free limberness with the compositional structures invoked for each particular piece. Ms. Davis’s arrangements give lattitude but also flesh out the critical melodic-rhythmic-harmonic scaffolding that supports and founds each piece.

It is excellent work, ambitious and exciting, well wrought and spontaneous at the same time. Very much recommended.

El Intruso 4th Annual Critics Poll – 2011

Musician of the Year Newcomer Musician
Wadada Leo Smith 28 Ambrose Akinmusire 33
Peter Evans 19 Joana Sa 13
Anthony Braxton 17 Travis LaPlante 12
Craig Taborn 17 Ingrid Laubrock 11
Rob Mazurek 17 Susana Santos Silva 11
Group of the Year Newcomer Group
Mostly Other People do the Killing 42 BB&C 18
The Claudia Quintet 12 Inzinzac 15
Farmers by Nature 11 Lama 15
Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet 11 Cylinder 12
The Thing 10 Fourth Page 12
Album of the Year
Peter Evans Quintet Ghosts More is More 18
Bill Dixon Envoi Victo 17
Craig Taborn Avenging Angels ECM 15
Wadada Leo Smith’ Organic Heart’s Reflections Cuneiform 15
Mostly Other People do the Killing Live in Coimbra Clean Feed 14
Composer Drums
Wadada Leo Smith 22 Gerald Cleaver 40
Anthony Braxton 18 Tyshawn Sorey 29
John Hollenbeck 18 Paal Nilssen Love 17
John Zorn 17 Jim Black 16
Peter Evans 17 Ches Smith 14
Bass Guitar
William Parker 56 Mary Halvorson 73
Barry Guy 16 Nels Ciine 37
Mark Dresser 16 Bill Frisell 35
Pascal Niggenkemper 15 Rez Abbasi 16
John Edwards 14 Marc Ribot 15
Piano Keyboards/Synthesizer/Organ
Craig Taborn 46 John Medeski 24
Matthew Shipp 37 Craig Taborn 22
Agusti Fernández 25 Gary Versace 15
Vijay Iyer 18 Alexander Hawkins 14
Kris Davis 17 Toby McLaren 12
Saxophone Trumpet / Cornet
Darius Jones 31 Nate Wooley 50
Mats Gustaffson 22 Peter Evans 44
Rudresh Mahanthappa 21 Taylor Ho Bynum 31
Ken Vandermark 14 Wadada Leo Smith 24
Peter Brotzmann 14 Ambrose Akinmusire 23
Clarinet Trombone
Joachim Badenhorst 30 Samuel Blaser 57
James Falzone 27 Steve Swell 45
Anat Cohen 25 Roswell Rudd 24
Jason Stein 21 Jeb Bishop 16
Waclaw Zimpel 20 Michael Dessen 15
Violín / Viola Cello
Jason Kao Hwang 40 Fred Lonberg-Holm 47
Jessica Pavone 26 Daniel Levin 39
Carlos Zingaro 22 Erik Friedlander 35
Jenny Scheinman 21 Okkyung Lee 31
Carla Kilhstedt 18 Ernst Reijseger 13
Vibraphone Others Instruments
Jason Adasiewicz 109 Nicole Mitchell (Flauta) 35
Chris Dingman 22 Brandon Seabrook (Banjo) 26
Matt Moran 21 Jason Stein (Clarinete bajo) 11
Gary Burton 15 Andrea Parkins (Acordeón) 9
Bill Ware 9 Matthew Wright (Electrónicos) 8
Female Singer Male Singer
Fay Victor 19 Theo Bleckmann 55
Jen Shyu 11 Kurt Elling 33
Ute Wasserman 10 Phil Minton 16
Carla Kihlstedt 9 Charlie Beresford 14
Sheila Jordan 8 Mose Allison 8
Best Live Band Record Label
The Thing 19 Clean Feed 72
Mostly Other People do the Killing 15 Cuneiform 33
John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble 12 No Business 32
Peter Evans (Quartet/Quintet) 8 ECM 13
Peter Brotzmann (Tentet/Hairy Bones) 7 Leo Records 13

In the El Intruso 4th Annual Critics Poll the following critics participated:

Alain Drouot, Andrea Canter, Andrey Henkin, Antonio Branco, Bartek Adamczak, Cayetano López, Clifford Allen, Dan Bilawsky, David Adler, Esteban Arizpe Castañeda, Eyal Hareuveni, Francis Davis, Gordon Marshall, Guillaume Belhomme, Hrayr Attarian, John Eyles, John Sharpe, Karl Ackerman, Laurence Donohue-Greene, Lyn Horton, Marcelo Morales, Marcin Kicinski, Mark Corroto, Matthew Marshall, Mike Borella, Pachi Tapiz, Paul Acquaro, Paul Banks, Raul da Gama, Roberto Barahona, Rui Eduardo Paes, Sean Patrick Fitzel, Sergio Piccirilli, Simon Jay Harper, Stef Gijssels, Stuart Broomer, Tim Niland, Tom Hull, Troy Collins.

View Complete Results El Intruso 4th Annual Critics Poll -2011

Music and More review by Tim Niland

The Ames Room – Bird Dies (CF 231)
The Ames Room is a collective improvising jazz group consisting of Clayton Thomas on bass, Jean-Luc Guionnet on alto saxophone and Will Guthrie on drums. On this album they craft a wildly exciting 42 minute continuous live improvisation that morphs, evolves, dreams and cries like a living creature. The liner notes name-check Sonny Rollins trio recordings and classic AACM experiments, and while those influences are certainly there, what I hear most from the single improvisational blowout “Bird Dies” is the monstrous lung power of Rahsaan Roland Kirk from his ‘Saxophone Contcerto” on the album Prepare Thyself to Deal With a Miracle and the epic trio improvisation that saxophonist Jon Irabagon recorded last year on the album Foxy. Recorded at the end of a two week tour, the band launches into “Bird Dies” with reckless abandon, worrying less about solo statements than collective improvisation: creating music that warps the very fabric of space and time itself. The trio is consistently excellent and plays with an empathic grace bordering on the paranormal. Whether you choose to read this album as a commentary on modern jazz since the death of Charlie Parker or as up to the moment modern jazz, anyone interested in exciting high powered music will certainly want to check this out.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Scott Fields & Multiple Joyce Orchestra: Moersbow/OZZO (CF 236)
According to the Clean Feed website, Scott Fields wrote Moersbow/OZZO (Clean Feed 236) as two works that could be performed by at least 19 musicians, all of whom could improvise and read music. He recorded both works with a large outfit he calls the Multiple Joyce Orchestra. The CD at hand presents the fruits of that labor.

This is challenging music of an avant sort. It combines textured soundscapes, collective soloing and worked-out sequences that have a post-Braxtonian edginess at times.

No single instrumentalist is meant to dominate the proceedings. Instead a great variety of instrumental combinations come in and out of play more or less continuously.

It’s a fascinating, successful, large-scale new music recital where the jazz and open elements combine and create a sonically rich result. It may not be a masterpiece of the new music, but it most certainly makes for a welcome addition to the scattering of existing works of its kind. Well worth a hearing if you follow the latest developments in the improv/new music nexus.

JazzWord review by Ken Waxman

Tony Malaby’s Novela (CF 232)
Olaf Rupp/Joe Williamson/Tony Buck – Weird Weapons 2 (Creative Sources)  Splice – LAB (Loop Records)
Bioni-Solberg-Brow – Hopscotch (ILK)

Something In The Air: Expat Canadians Create High-Class Improv

Almost from the time the professional music business was established in this country, the expected route for success has been for artists to head off to the larger market down south and set up shop there. Canadians from Percy Faith and Maynard Ferguson to Joni Mitchell and Teresa Stratas effectively followed that formula. But today, as American musical hegemony lessens and modern communications almost literally shrink the world, musicians, especially those who play improvised music, can demonstrate that a permanent home in Europe is as beneficial as becoming an American resident.

Take Vancouver-born Joe Williamson for instance. On Weird Weapons 2

Creative Sources CS197 CD the bassist who now lives in Stockholm after stints in London, Berlin and Montreal, is matched with German guitarist Olaf Rupp and drummer Tony Buck, an Australian turned Berliner, for two extended selections of intuitive improv. No lounge guitar trio, this band creates sonic sparks that almost visibly fly every which way. Rupp’s constant, intense strumming often elasticizes into slurred fingering as Buck buzzes drumstick on cymbals, pops his toms, door-knocks his snares and rattles and reverberates any number of bells, chains and wood blocks for additional textures. Keeping the improvisations grounded is Williamson, who splays, stretches or saws upon his instrument’s strings, scroll and body wood when he’s not creating added continuum by slapping out pedal point resonation. On the nearly 30-minute “Buckram”, the three reach such a level of polyphonic coherence that the cumulative textures seem to ooze into every sonic space. Moving to the forefront then fading back into the ensemble, Rupp pinpoints jagged licks that eventually accelerate to stentorian multi-string runs, as Buck concentrates pitter-pattering and agitatedly clanking into tremolo whacks. Finally, a climax is reached, as Williamson’s multi-string variations, consisting of col legno strokes vibrating with a near-electronic pulse, push the three to a decisive conclusion.

Moving less than 300 kilometres southwest to Copenhagen, lives drummer Kevin Brow, an Orangeville native and part of the trio on Hopscotch ILK 179 CD completed by Italian-born tenor saxophonist Francesco Bigoni, another Copenhagen resident, plus local guitarist Mark Solborg. Paced and cooperative, Brow’s rhythmic sensibility here is like Williamson’s on the other CD. Brow’s backbeat advances or bonds the others’ extended techniques during 10 notable improvisations. With Solberg’s solos including distorted power chords with rock music antecedents plus organ-like echoes, and Bigoni’s bitten-off reed strategies accelerating to intense, repetitive phraseology, the drummer’s playing creates thematic definition. Case in point is Almost, Before Brow’s hard thwacks define a conclusive tipping point where unison harmonies from the guitarist and saxist advance to similar legato patterning, the variegated strategy from each differs markedly. Solberg’s licks are trebly and echoing, while Bigoni’s behind-the-beat tones split and squeak. The percussionist can also express himself more forcefully as he does with carefully positioned press rolls and flanges on “Brainwashing”. Meantime the saxophonist appears to be exploring the limits of his instrument with intense vibrato, lip bubbling sprays and pressurized staccato tones, as serpentine guitar strokes harden into splayed fingering plus crunching, echoing twangs, leavened by a bit of amp buzz. Bigoni’s tone alternating among magisterial reed quivers, speech-like inflection and legato lines, which helps define the remaining tracks’ scope(s).

Over in the United Kingdom, the band Splice consists of two British players – trumpeter Alex Bonney and drummer Dave Smith – plus French reedist Robin Fincker, who has lived in London for a dozen years and Montreal-born Pierre Alexandre Tremblay. Tremblay, who plays bass guitar and electronics, has taught at England’s University of Huddersfield since 2005 and oversees its electronic music studio. Perhaps that’s why this disc is entitled LAB, Loop Records 1013. It certainly has a more extensive electronic palate than the others. Although slippery and shuddering bass guitar runs are heard infrequently throughout, Tremblay’s electronics maintain the sometimes opaque methodical pulsations which pervade the disc. A track such as “The Wanderer” is smooth and bouncy, built on Fincker’s chromatic clarinet runs, Bonney’s trumpet obbligatos, a shuffle drum beat and electro-acoustic coloring that could be Arabic music played on an accordion. The blurry wave forms which elsewhere quiver alongside, process, or complement instrumental textures such as alphorn-like vibration from Fincker’s tenor saxophone, Bonney’s brassy or muted asides and drum pops and backbeat, are more upfront on “Luna Verde”. Stacked horn lines, sliding bass guitar licks and percussion rebounds are accompanied by processed textures that come in-and-out of aural focus. This crackling interface concretely outlines the theme statement from the harmonized horns.

Not surprisingly of course, the stateside lure still exists and is beneficial for some musicians. Vancouver-born, Toronto-educated Pianist Kris Davis, has, after a decade in New York, become one of the go-to musicians there. While the Canadians on the other CDs may provide the backdrop for improvisations, Davis not only plays on Novela Clean Feed CF 232 CD by Tony Malaby’s nine-piece band, but wrote all the arrangements and conducts. A career retrospective for Malaby, Davis recasts six of his original compositions to show off his tenor and soprano saxophone prowess. The extended “Remolino” for example is given a Mexicali flavor by intertwined horn lines broadened with Dan Peck’s harsh tuba snorts and drummer John Hollenbeck’s press rolls. Dramatic chording from the pianist introduces a Malaby soprano saxophone solo which reaches an elevated level of pressurized multiphonics before downshifting to moderato timbres in unison with the other horns. Before a climax of piano key plinks and a brass fanfare, the saxophonist winds his way among clanks and scrapes from the percussionist and trombonist Ben Gerstein’s brays as close harmonies are produced by alto saxophonist Michael Attias, baritone saxophonist Andrew Hadro and Joachim Badenhorst’s bass clarinet. Carefully shaping arrangements to expose distinct sound tinctures like xylophone rhythms or plunger trombone friction, Davis makes “Floral and Herbaceous” another highpoint. Following trumpeter Ralph Alessi’s lead and ending with a crescendo of staccato noises, the tune plays out as a dual between Malaby’s distinctive soprano reed bites and a sequence of more muted tones from the baritone saxophonist.

Whether it’s as co-leader, arranger, teacher or improviser, each of these Canadians appears to have found the proper foreign context for his or her musical development.

JazzWord review by Ken Waxman

Scott Fields/Multiple Joyce Orchestra – Moersbow OZZO (CF 236)
Having upped the number of musicians involved as well as the scope of his creative strategies, the newest orchestral work by American guitarist Scott Fields involves 23 players – plus him conducting – interpreting one, nearly-14-minute, and another four-part, hour-long composition. The result, recorded live in the guitarist’s adopted hometown of Köln, is satisfyingly striking, with the proviso that subsequent performances likely sounded different, considering that that the unique physical gestures used by Fields and the musicians to communicate are drawn from the American Manual Alphabet.

Chicago-born Fields, who has recorded extensively over the past three decades in configurations ranging from duets with fellow guitarists Elliott Sharp and Jeff Parker to any number of combos, has gathered some of Köln’s most-accomplished players here, many as whom are as experienced in contemporary notated music as Jazz. Among the best-known improv-wise are saxophonists Frank Gratkowski and Matthias Schubert, tubaist Carl Ludwig Hübsch, pianist Philip Zoubek and Thomas Lehn who manipulates electronics. At the same time, players from the word of composition interpretation such as flautist Angelica Sheridan bring their unique talents to the interface.

Lehn’s clicking and clanking oscillations, amplified by the computer work of Marion Wörle and Eva Pöpplein create the wavering cross tones which combine with acoustic instruments’ legato tones on “Moersbow”. Played as quietly as possible, in sharp contrast to the excessive fortissimo crunches produced by Merzbow, the Japanese noise musician after whom the piece is named, widened flute obbligatos, muted and discursive trumpet solos from Udo Moll or Matthias Mainz plus high-frequency chording from the pianist keep the salute bubbling at the mid-point between inchoate and invention.

“OZZO 1-4” is even more polyphonic and multi-tonal, with the variations encompassing every manner of pastoral and abrasive leitmotif, especially in the over-30 minute first section. With processed squeaks and voltage pops from the electronics frequently underscoring the narrative, the contrapuntal evolution includes exchanges among sul ponticello strings, a brassy lead trumpet, split tones and irregular vibrations from the reeds, and stop-time yet stentorian thumps from percussionist Christian Thomé. Meanwhile Florian Standler’s accordion flutters flit among the solid textures. Twittering and stuttering alto saxophone squeaks are framed by chromatic brass harmonies, while the flute work of Sheridan and Michael Heupel ranges from gentle to staccato. More than pedal-point time-markers, the tubas of Hübsch and Melvyn Poore are put to more extensive use with contrapuntal displays of brass beats as well as elaborating sequences divided among the two, the accordion and Tang’s walking bass. Before the first section’s climax is defined by embellished linear string motion, vibist Tom Lorenz and tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert duet on one theme variant which oozes “OZZO” closest to the standard Jazz form.

Alternating tutti and individual theme elaborations, the last section weaves strings, brass, saxophone splutters, pitch-sliding flute lines, clip-clop drumming and some computer pulsations to reach an almost tonic finale. With multiphonic contributions from a nearly all the players appear sequentially, the finale is almost pseudo-romantic.

While the particular circumstances under which the Multiple Joyce Orchestra interpreted Fields’ compositions may alter next time around, this CD is proof that the American’s skills as a composer as well as a guitarist continue to mature imaginatively.

Publico review by Nuno Catarino

Ich Bin Ein Berliner
Trio luso-alemão unido pela improvisação.

Luís Lopes – Lisbon Berlin Trio (CF 234)
O guitarrista Luís Lopes tem percorrido um percurso vasto, espraiando-se entre múltiplos projectos. Liderando o “Humanizariam 4tet” (com Rodrigo Amado e os irmãos Stefan e Aaron Gonzalez), editou dois discos e foi responsável por um vibrante concerto na edição deste ano do Jazz em Agosto; editou um disco em trio com Adam Lane e Igal Foni (“What is When”); formou o quinteto Afterfall, grupo “allstar” com Sei Miguel, Joe Giardullo, Benjamim Duboc e Harvey Sorgen (com disco homónimo na clean Feed). E entretanto já se apresentou ao vivo com um novo grupo, exclusivamente nacional: “No Changes Quartet”, com Rodrigo Amado, Hernâni Faustino e Gabriel Ferrandini – secção rítmica “emprestada” pelo Red Trio.

A editora Clean Feed, que celebra este ano o seu 10º aniversário acaba de lançar um novo projecto do guitarrista. Lopes regressa ao formato trio, desta vez com a colaboração de dois alemães: Robert Landfermann (contrabaixo) e Christian Lilinger (bateria). O álbum arranca com os três músicos que parecem perdidos, sem referências, procurando um caminho comum, sem GPS. A música avança, vão surgindo ideias, territórios comuns, e cada músico – sem ceder à tentação de um caminho único, óbvio – vai articulando em tempo real soluções de compromisso. É esta a magia da improvisação, que os três instrumentistas confirmam dominar com mestria. A tranquilidade chega ao terceiro tema “Song for M”, composição de Lopes, com o contrabaixo a alinhar numa dança subtil com a linha da guitarra. Já na quinta faixa, “Trip to”,chegamos a outro território: a guitarra abandona-se ao “noise”, deixando o feedback definir a viagem (Lopes tem aprimorado este formato ao vivo, apresentando-se em exclusivo formato “noise” em alguns pequenos concertos solo).

Independentemente da estética assumida, o guitarrista confirma que mais do que seguidor de uma determinada linha, possui uma grande diversidade de recursos e soluções, adaptando-se às necessidades das circunstâncias. Ora exibindo o seu habitual fraseado inteligente, ora trocando-o por uma intensa energia rock, Lopes confirma ser um dos mais interessantes e versáteis improvisadores da nossa praça.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet – Frog Leg Logic (CF 242)
En estos tiempos de crisis, en que lo que lo único que no está en recesión es el uso de las tijeras en temas como la educación, discos como Frog Leg Logic dan sentido a la utilidad de las becas o ayudas académicas. En el caso de Marty Ehrlich, una beca del Hampshire College en Amherst sirvió en parte para reunir a cuatro músicos que no son precisamente nuevos en esto del jazz (Ehrlich, el baterista Michael Sarin, el chelista Hank Roberts y el trompetista -el más joven de todos ellos- James Zollar) y que pudiesen plasmar en CD las composiciones del saxofonista. El disco está lleno de buenas melodías, buenos arreglos, buenos solos, y con la versatilidad (e incluso las sorpresas) en todos esos ámbitos que hacen que un disco pase de ser bueno a excelente.

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

Clean Feed   The history behind the names of these two pieces for improvising chamber group is too difficult to synthesize here; check the liners or google around, also to learn about the various evolutions of the very orchestra’s appellative. What’s transparent is that the opening period is dedicated to Masami Akita (aka Merzbow), though Fields and his companions decided to approach the task with the sagacious expertise of a qualified ensemble paying homage to a time-honored composer rather than a Japanese noise merchant. The outcome is a superb paradigm of how to carry out a joint improvisation, the timbres so consistently interconnected in different permutations and dynamics that giving privileges to “lead” designs and distinct ideas becomes a pointless exercise. Our friendly advice is to relinquish a bit of focus and abandoning yourselves to a compelling stream of beautifully emitted music, nurturing one’s yearning for density in a collective statement without losing grip on the poetic aspects of the diverse instrumental idioms.   The first, and a sizeable chunk of the fourth movement of “Ozzo” are plain wonders, replete with fine games of call and response, tactful probing of quietness and recurring parallelisms between assorted groups (sax, accordion and strings in particular evidence, with Thomas Lehn’s synthesizer adding pinches of analogue salt and the flutists inserting small enigmas throughout). The rest is more directly reminiscent of the conductor’s style both in terms of composition and as a guitarist: minuscule cells and dissonant quirks succeed and involve, the interest maintained by the extreme unsettledness generated by the palette’s variety. With musicians of the caliber of Frank Gratkowski, Carl Ludwig Hübsch, Melvyn Poore, Angelika Sheridan and Georg Wissel among the many – everybody deserving a “well done” – this live recording (Cologne’s Loft, January 2009) is as impeccable as a pre-planned studio session.