Daily Archives: July 12, 2012

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Boris Hauf Sextet, Next Delirium, with Keefe Jackson and Jason Stein
Some music takes time to absorb. I don’t always get it right away. The Boris Hauf Sextet and their Next Delusion (Clean Feed 238) was one of those. I suppose that is because it is a sextet of an unusual sort, doing things one doesn’t expect.   It’s three reeds–Boris Hauf (tenor, soprano), Keefe Jackson (tenor, contrabass clarinet) and Jason Stein (bass clarinet), the latter two especially known as important improvisers. And it’s three drummers–Frank Rosaly, Steven Hess and Michael Hartman.   Improvisation is there throughout, and especially on the last track, but the overarching push is toward open compositional structures: long tones and chordal voicings, clicks and pops, multiple velocity jabs, and drums as color, and when they get going, as irresistibly anarchic barrages.   There’s not a great deal of wind improvising in the traditional new jazz sense until the final section, where you get a cascade of three-horn energy blasts.   Once you understand the structural arch and compositional trajectory, you cease to expect something else and just sit back and let the sounds envelop you. And that for me was when I starting liking what I was hearing a good deal. It’s an exercise in disciplined freedom. And it’s very good!

Free Jazz review by Philip Coombs

Ballister -Mechanisms (CF 245)
Two weeks ago I was rushed to our onsite medical facility with an extremely elevated heart rate. The attending nurse asked some of the expected questions; ‘Are you taking any different medications?’, and, ‘Are you under any unusual stress?’ She strapped me to an ECG machine and and it read 174 bbm. Then it occurred to me. I was listening to the latest Ballister release ‘Mechanisms’ on the way in on the bus. I explained this to her. She decided to call an ambulance immediately.

This is Ballister. Handle with care. Named after the origins of the crossbow, Paal Nilssen-Love (Drums), Fred Lonberg-Holm (Cello, Electronics), and Dave Rempis (Saxophones), collectively pull back the arrow with all their might and pull the trigger with no regard for innocent bystanders.

Recorded live during the last show of their first tour, track one, Release Levers, is a track full of ideas. It is a vital core concept of an album like this that either makes it work or it fails miserably. Without a constant influx of these new fresh ideas, it could become very boring quickly.

Nilssen-Love is all over his drum kit on this one. He starts with brushes, then turns to bells and cymbals and eventually getting to his sticks to end with a pounding rock beat that proves once again that a drummer of his originality and prolific output can only be compared to himself. This recording may in fact be one of his best or at least one of his most concise. Rempis is right there with him in terms of ideas, concepts and density, and certainly deserving of more respect as a purveyor of improv. Lonberg-Holm is the glue that keeps them together adding his cello in some very unique ways. Somehow the three of them never seem to repeat themselves.

Track two, Claplock, is in itself a rare thing of beauty. It completely transcends three guys improvising on stage. This track sounds like a direct result of three musicians, beaming with mutual respect at the end of a tour after driving long hours, eating together, talking about music and scrolling through each others MP3 players late at night. It is the culmination of each player’s history and vision wrapped up in 17 minutes.

The final mechanism of the crossbow, Roller Nuts, sees everyone out of the gate at the same time. Okay, check pulse. Relatively normal, good. All three musicians are giving it everything they have left. It is their swan song as it were, their last time to play together. This is no theoretical improv moment, this is the real deal, combining years of playing and even more years of listening. Either of them can simply hint at a structural or rhythmical change and the other two dive right in. You can feel the energy from the room and no moment is left to waste. Lonberg-Holm’s cello processing and electronics are at their most prevalent on this track and there are points where you can almost hear Rempis’ saxophone crying out for a break before it explodes.

This is why my cardiologist and I give it 4½ stars.

Free Jazz reviews by Andreas Wildenhain and Paolo Casertano

Platform 1 – Takes Off (CF 255)
We’re pleased to present a double review of this new Clean Feed album from Platform 1 (Ken Vandermark, Joe Willamson, Michael Vatcher, Magnus Broo, and Steve Swell). What’s interesting is how our two reviewers came away with differing impressions of the album. What can we say except, give it spin, see what you think.

Platform 1 – Takes Off (Clean Feed, 2012) ****

By Andreas Wildenhain

Lets say: A friend of yours asked you a few days ago, if you knew some cool music, maybe Creative Music or even Free Jazz, because lately he explained, he could´t stand those radio mainstream Songs anymore, always using four chords the whole song through, some autotune, to pitch the singer to the right note, etc, etc. You left him standing with a grin on your face, telling him, that you will have look. So you went back home thinking what might be appropriate for his dude. Maybe some Sun Ra? Squarepusher? Son House?

Looking through your CD Library you catch a glimpse of the latest Ken Vandermark Platform 1 Release, entitled Takes Off. While hearing through this latest release, you realize that this CD offers some Free Bop with a lot of positive musical aspects like: beautiful melodies, some remarkable communication between instrumentalists, high energy interaction, but the whole release is balanced and never completely off the wall.

So lets look at the first song Tempest/2A>2B which starts with a blast of a theme, then turning into a rather energetic duet between Steve Swell, trombone and Michael Vatcher, drums & perc, switching to a well balanced group conversation that leads to an astonishing end of the track. A nice track that made me smile while taking its twists.

Overall, I really liked this recording with its composed and improvised sections and would recommend it to every open eared music fan.

If you are in a hurry at your local CD Store, I recommend listening to Tracks 1,3 and 7 to get an idea of the recording. Furthermore the recording is well recorded and mixed by Bob Weston and Chicago Mastering Service in April 2012.

You can pick a copy at Clean Feed Records a Portuguese Record Company by Pedro Costa.

The musician of this session are: Ken Vandermark, Joe Willamson, Michael Vatcher, Magnus Broo, Steve Swell

Platform 1 – Takes Off (Clean Feed, 2012) **½
By Paolo Casertano
It is unusual to receive a negative review on this blog. This is for sure not due to the reviewers tenderness (the team numbers among its ranks several well-known serial killers), while more possibly it is because our respect and care for jazz led us to the attempt of deeply decrypting musicians work, occasionally until we find something good even in some – let’s call them – unimpressive releases. At least this is what sometimes I find myself doing (and probably I shouldn’t have spoken in the name of the team, and more over not about the serial killers issue, you know…). And again, this maybe should say something about my critical approach.

I didn’t know much about this album. A single sentence from the short introduction to it on the label’s website – “their music is the burning free bop you would expect from the people gathered here” – had unnecessarily strengthened my curiosity. It seemed an easy bet indeed. Clean Feed has recently released such an impressive amount of great albums, many of them among my favorite listenings, and the group’s personnel is so bright – I thought.

It’s beyond any reasonable doubt that the musicians featured in it have gained a really well deserved reputation all over the world. And that’s why it is, in my opinion, equally honest to say that this is not what I expected from them.

The seven tracks are well arranged and masterfully played. Nothing less. What it lacks is inspiration. Sometimes echoing a 30’s big band a la Glenn Miller, some others recreating an Yma Sumac’s mambo atmosphere. There is nothing bad about it, we could agree. But again, the result is that all these great musicians are less convincing as an ensemble than as individual performers. I mean, at least as this ensemble, considering they all have a countless amount of other compelling projects in any conceivable line-up.

The album, in its 65 minutes, streams without any possibility of attachment and stronger involvement. I have always been a faithful supporter of Magnus Broo, both in his avantgardish outputs and in his more traditional releases. I’ve always found something really appropriate in his sound, as if it could not be in any case offsite. I’m still persuaded of it. But the interventions showing the real potential of the players are too few and dispersive here. Some successful interplay may be heard between trumpet and bass in the closing part of the second track.

Bassist Joe Williamson seems to be the only one aiming to a more coherent development of the band’s structures and if you wait until the “Deep beige/For Derek’s kids” episode and the following and closing “In between chairs”, you may hear a remarkable bass drone file rouge giving for once the feeling that players are enjoying the jam session and the benefit of a composition in a large ensemble.

Vandermark has obviously his sound. His screeches and dives in the low scales chasing the trombone. But I’m not sure he needed this experiment.

A single word from the Clean Feed’s introduction comes back to my mind: “gathered”. The musicians are gathered in the group.  Gathered and not joined together, or united in. Semantic is a slippery territory. Especially when you’re not analyzing your mother tongue. But this is what it seems. Or mathematically speaking, for once the whole is smaller than the sum of its parts. And more explicitly, would you let them play as background music at your wedding party? I believe they’re all a little bit too gifted for such a waste.

To stay on topic the album just does not take off.

Dig Jazz review by Peter Bornemar

Nytänkande i gamla banor. . Kolossalt effektivt och smittande. Kullhammar/Aalberg/Zetterberg-  The Basement Sessions vol.1 (CF 246)
Mest imposant har Jonas Kullhammar alltid varit när han klivit fram med de tyngre medlemmarna i saxofonfamiljen. Som när han spelat bassax med exempelvis The Torbjörn Zetterberg Hot Five, eller när han fått fläska på med sin barytonsax.   På albumet The Basement Sessions Vol.1 varvar han mellan just barytonsax och tenorsax i musik som har sina rötter i den hårdaste av hard bop, men där samtliga sex låtar är originalkompositioner av honom själv, basisten Torbjörn Zetterberg eller trumslagaren Espen Aalberg. Den sistnämnde ett ankare i den norska jazzgruppen The Core, samtidigt som alla tre musikerna känner och har spelat med varandra i en rad olika sammanhang.   Musiken på The Basement Sessions Vol.1 handlar om autenticitet, men är milslångt från att på något sätt vara museal. I inledande As Tajm Goes By borrar sig Kullhammars barytonsax rakt ned i traditionen, men bara för att med full kraft svänga den runt i ett flöde av toner som tillåter sig både grymta och kvida på ett sätt som snarare hör samtiden till. Det är kolossalt effektivt, och smittande.   Barytonsaxen kommer fram även i den återhållsamt smygande Den Stora Väntan, där Aalbergs trummor och Zetterbergs bas har lika bärande roller. I 7th Father, Pontiac och Shadow åkallar Kullhammars spel på tenorsax en fritänkande Sonny Rollins, samtidigt som Zetterberg och Aalberg ger musiken en suverän stuns med sitt följsamma spel.

The Basement Sessions Vol. 1 är ett strålande exempel på hur nytänkande i gamla banor går till.