Daily Archives: April 2, 2012

Bodyspace review by Nuno Catarino

Boris Hauf Sextet – Next Delusion (CF 238)
No compasso da ilusão.
A primeira característica a reter deste grupo é a sua estranha e, acima de tudo, raríssima formação. Trata-se de um sexteto constituído por três sopros (madeiras) e outras tantas percussões. O líder Boris Hauf fica-se nos saxofones (tenor e soprano), Keefe Jackson atira-se ao sax tenor e clarinete contrabaixo e Jason Stein (líder do projecto Locksmith Isidore) trata do seu habitual clarinete baixo. Nas baterias estão Frank Rosaly, Michael Hartman e Steven Hess – este último acumulando ainda responsabilidades nas electrónicas.   Originários de campos de actuação distintos (a maior parte vem da jazz de Chicago, mas há gente oriunda das cenas noise e da improvisação “near-silence”), os músicos encontram neste projecto uma plataforma de união e expansão. Surpreendentemente, a música não fica limitada pelas características dos instrumentos; antes pelo contrário, cada músico trata de explorar as possibilidades de cada instrumento, exibindo uma larga variedade de recursos.   A responsabilidade maior cabe a Boris Hauf, músico da cena berlinense (nascido em Londres), que nos últimos anos tem desenvolvido uma intensa actividade em projectos musicais diversos – procurem por efzeg, Owl & Mack, The Understated Brown (ou só TUB), Severe Moral Purity e Proxemics. Curiosidade extra: já fez música para uma peça de Vera Mantero.   Ao longo de quatro peças (com mais de dez minutos, cada um delas) o sexteto explora diferentes ambientes, trabalhando uma música requintada que fomenta a comunicação instrumental, sublimando eventuais redundâncias. Com este disco, uma das suas mais recentes edições, a Clean Feed volta a confirmar que o jazz actual é uma matéria mutável, que não tem receio em beber nos mais diversos afluentes para conseguir como resultado um fluxo profundamente original.

Paris Transatlantic review by Jason Bivins

Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet – FROG LEG LOGIC (CF 242)
As a longtime Ehrlich freak, I was knocked out by the debut recording from this fine, Hemphill-inspired group. On Frog Leg Logic, Ehrlich is back along with trumpeter James Zollar, both in slashing form here. But there’s a change in the cello and drum chair, from Erik Friedlander and Pheeroan akLaff to Hank Roberts and Michael Sarin. The bustle and swagger of the title track opens this disc in righteous fashion, with cracking percussion the fuel to the multiple lines that whip around. Ehrlich’s always got a heart-rending lyrical tale to tell, as with the superb reading of “Ballade” here (kudos to Zollar for nailing the harmonic / emotional interface so brightly and vividly). And when it opens up into a bubbly, mid-tempo funk it kills. Atop the supple groove, there are tasty bent notes from both horns, digging into the space between the beats in ways both raunchy and elegant. Roberts is key to these grooving sections, by the way, and to the whole disc. His deep, soulful melancholy combines with a percolating funk and occasional flurries of noise, and he can totally carry an unaccompanied spot. His countrified sound opens “Solace”, a longtime Ehrlich fave here given a spare arrangement that emphasizes the brass and the rattling timbre Sarin contributes (with Ehrlich contrasting gracefully on flute). At a tight 50 minutes, this disc has the logic and pacing of a live set. And the band has even more range here than on their debut, taking in styles as far-flung as the tart, slightly keening alto / cello duet “My Song” and the vaguely ominous “Walk Along the Way”, with low tuned drums, grunting bridgework from Roberts, and all manner of growls and animal sounds. But at the end of the day, it’s the groove pieces that get me, like the bright bounce of “You Can Beat the Slanted Cards” and the funky “The Gravedigger’s Respite”. More, please.

Paris Transatlantic review by Dan Warburton

The Ames Room – BIRD DIES (CF 231)
As I think I mentioned when I reviewed The Ames Room’s debut LP on Monotype a couple of years ago, Jean-Luc Guionnet’s website sorts his considerable discography into various categories – Acousmatique, Dispositifs, Improvisations, Compilations and “jazz”. Yes, that’s “jazz”, lowercase, in inverted commas. Those quotation marks might indicate his reluctance to be labelled as just another jazz saxophonist (though he knows his jazz history as well as anyone I’ve ever met, and I’d argue that Shepp, Lacy and Coleman – two Colemans, in fact, Ornette and Steve – have had a great influence on his playing), but they are certainly appropriate when it comes to discussing his work with Clayton Thomas and Will Guthrie in The Ames Room. For, despite its appearance on a jazz label, Clean Feed, the 46 minutes of Bird Dies (more on the title later) have more in common with noise. It’s worth remembering that one of Guionnet’s first albums under his own name, Axène, inaugurated the Californian noise label Ground Fault, and on a personal note, I recall his near boundless enthusiasm for the Sickness album I Have Become The Disease That Made Me on that late, lamented imprint. Noise, even Wall Noise, is always the same (noisy) and never the same, and there’s the same relentless death drive in the music of The Ames Room. Sure, there’s no shortage of “material”, ideas chewed up and spat out with unbridled intensity, and there are moments where the texture thins slightly, but there’s nothing resembling jazz’s head-solos-head structure, nor the climactic ebb and flow of “traditional” free improv. It’s the aural equivalent of a Pollock action painting or the excremental jouissance of Céline. Is the Bird of the title is a sly reference to Charlie Parker? Maybe. But, if so, more interesting is the tense of the verb that follows: this is no “Bird Is Dead” punky middle finger to Jazz Tradition, but a simple present tense. And despite its hyperactivity, Bird Dies is brutally simple. And present. And tense.

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

Cologne’s Loft is a venue where very good things usually happen when improvising musicians perform. This stellar duet between sax maestros is no exception: recorded in 2007, it features Parker on soprano and Leimgruber on tenor, exchanging darts of creative thinking with a mixture of snappy commitment and no-nonsense technical facility, prowess made explicit in every minute of this CD. Three extended segments revealing a whole cosmos of nuances that will make the students of the instrument aware of a depressing perspective: in fact, they might never arrive to certain heights decades of practice notwithstanding, in a classic case of “some folks got it, some folks don’t”. However, the sheer act of listening – both for them and non-reedist audiences – remains a challenge that brings numerous moments of pure excitement. In 66 minutes I didn’t hear a phrase even distantly related with someone else’s style, despite the couple’s occasional resorting to quicksilver spurts of reciprocally echoic/imitative shapes in various parts of the set. Another attractive trait is given by the general comprehensibility of the contrapuntal components, regardless of a frequent trespassing of the overacute range. Articulate connectedness kept at full throttle, pushing the boundaries of fast-paced ability well beyond the average. As always, one would say, but still quite exhilaratingly for us, the lucky receivers of those swirling parallelisms.

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

It’s not merely a matter of expertise. When artistic entities such as Dennis González and João Paulo meet, there’s a third factor in the equation, specifically an instinctive capacity of establishing with deadly accuracy how many pitches should get played, and how long or short they should be. Not to mention how certain silences weigh amidst these muted conversations. So Soft Yet, which follows Scapegrace (same label) is a 59-minute collection of dejected moods, evocative pastels and calm experimentations depicted by trumpet, cornet, acoustic and electric piano. It’s a fine testimonial – better than the previous one, if you ask me – of two musicians attempting to shine by evoking the ghost of an understated beauty instead of hiding behind technical brilliance (an element that, in case of doubt, lies at the basis of both beings). In pieces such as “El Destierro” a clairvoyance of sorts permits a reciprocal anticipation of the respective moves, the resulting music appearing superbly designed in its gradual development. The soulful sedimentation generated by these fragments of higher sceneries is something that a reviewer can’t stuff into a pot: just let the notes flow, realizing that implications are everywhere. Unspoken or less.

Free Jazz review by Paul Acquaro

Lama – Oneiros (CF 240)
Lama is an electronically enhanced acoustic drum, bass and trumpet trio that has delivered an excellent album with “Oneiros”. The pieces fit together so tightly that there’s hardly room for a wasted note, beat or breath as the musicians move gracefully through the set of songs, nimbly riding the contours between structure and freedom.

For the most part, the instruments are used fairly conventionally, though the musicans are not prone to hold back from extended technique when the moment calls, or use electronic processing and real-time loops to create new possibilities. Trumpeter and group leader Susana Santos Silva plays mostly with a clean and dynamic tone. Bassist Goncalo Almeida’s upright sound is perfect support for Silva, as he produces a rich sound that contracts nicely with the more subtle use of electronics. Greg Smith’s drumming and percussion is an important connection between the other instruments, whether creating texture or coming up with a smart groove.

The first tune, ‘Alguidar’ contains a little of everything, from a static-laden start that seques into an nonabrasive noise jam and then into a complex groove between Almeida and Smith. Silva delivers, over the elastic time, some possibly Ayler-inspired martial themes but goes far beyond them into a spirited improvisation.

‘Overture for Penguins’ begins with a simple but effective theme bowed on the bass. Electronics crackle and spit, and soon comes in Smith’s colorful percussion and Silva’s crystal clear and driving trumpet. A playful juxtaposition of light and dark rhythms help conjure a delightful tension, and as the tune unfolds, it takes on an almost rock-ish dimension.

A tune whose title speaks to me, ‘My Fucking Thesis’, circles around in an echo filled chamber of angular ideas and passionate argument. The electronics are used here for texture and fill, like cross hatching in a sketch. The brittle fizzle and digital spittle adds depth to the acoustic lines. Moments towards the end of the song, and especially in the next tune ‘The Chimpanzee Who Told Man How To Cry’ remind me of Miles Davis, somewhere between the minimalist funk of Miles in the Sky and the sheer power of Bitches Brew. Quieter moments, like in the title track, display a sensitive and melodic fragility that exudes a certain melancholy.

Overall ‘Oneiros’ is a dynamic album with a lot to offer the listener. It defies the conventional but is also quite accessible. Highly enjoyable and grows better and better with each listen.