Daily Archives: February 6, 2012

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.
http://gapplegatemusicreview.blogspot.com/

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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.
http://www.jazzword.com/review/127708

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.
http://www.jazzword.com/review/127700