Daily Archives: July 31, 2012

JazzWrap review by Stephan Moore

Motif – Art Transplant Motif (CF 225)
Motif is a Norwegian quintet that is celebrating just over ten years on the scene. Each of the members has a stellar career on their own, but together they have produced four phenomenal albums that rely on modern thinking but root themselves in the traditional ethics of improvisation. Motif’s latest, Art Transplant is their first for Clean Feed Records after two acclaimed records for Jazzland and Aim.

Art Transplant feels like it was always going to be the right move for the band. It’s risky and combines elements of the ensemble’s modern thinking with more adventurous muscle than previous records. “Korean Barbeque Smokeout” starts with a bit of quiet investigation from Nymo before the rest of the band burst through with a collision of sound. The explosion rips the fabric of the harmonics and makes for a beautiful convergence of ideas; at times feeling like Ornette Coleman’s quartet circa Shape of Jazz To Come.

Dorner and Nymo provide an intense but also playful exchange at the beginning of “Alkiis” which later levels off to improvised dialogue between Dorner and Wiik. Gradually each member returns and the melody ebbs into exchanges for Wiik before the group finally comes full circle for a rousing conclusion.

The inquisitiveness of “Something For The Ladies” with Nymo on clarinet playing rich lines that reminded me of Don Byron. The piece is frenetic but with a soft tone just underneath the wind instruments. It’s sneaky like nice slice of spy-jazz from the 60s and great mid-section where Wiik gets to fly were some terrific improvised notes.

Motif has shown that each album is more diverse than the next. With a solid lineup that doesn’t seem to change, the ensemble is always in complete unison. And with Art Tansplant, they’ve shown that their unity breeds exciting creativity and fluidity.

Free Jazz review by Paolo Casertano

Filipe Felizardo – Guitar Soli For The Moa And The Frog (Shhpuma 001)
Shhpuma, the new Clean Feed sub-label, starts with a solo guitar album by Filipe Felizardo, a young Lisbon-based artist with already two self-released solo works to his credit. From the very first notes it is absolutely clear that he is far from being threatened by the several comparisons you may possibly detect. Choosing the field and the directions outlined in this work, Felizardo must in fact be perfectly aware of the heavy echoes of the late John Fahey’s style, and of the natural bond with a guitar composition approach à la Mazzacane Connors. And he’s right not to be, for he has delivered, in any case, an original album.

The opening track, called, “Against The Day” like the Pynchon novel, inherits from the author a taste of pre-catastrophic tension. Felizardo lets the listener drown in the buzz between a note and the following one, craving for a new reverb. He wisely takes his time, slowly inflating each single chord, leaning on trembling layers. Be available to apply to your life a bit of suspension of disbelief for once! Close your eyes and you will probably find yourself on a cliff edge admiring an endless river that runs across majestic canyons.

What surprises the most about the four chapters in the long “A Conference Of stones And Things” is the choice of eschewing the preeminent role of effects and external devices – from what I may discern – in the building of sound textures. Felizardo must be really confident of what the amplifiers will return to him. The guitar is unveiled and the composition discloses the physical relationship between the guitarist and his instrument. Sparse and diluted phrasings, sometimes left to die at length in the silence – so that is their memory more than their presence and sound to develop the listening experience – leave the scene to circular obsessive motifs and naked percussive arpeggios before newly fading in a far reverberation. Blues oriented utterances and rhythmic accompaniment patterns work as a coherent background for the fretwork of deep and cavernous touches. Interstices are filled with waiting.

The brief acoustic “Of The Excrement And The Frog” showcases the musician’s ability to build soundscapes through absences and shades. And now you could probably see in the above mentioned canyons even a far dust cloud. For sure it is the Wild Bunch.

To pre-emptively answer to an underlying and legitimate question in a Free Jazz Blog, it’s hard to say whether this is or this is not a jazz album. I find it thrilling anyway.

A promising step for the artist. A good start for the label.

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

Angles 8 – By Way Of Deception – Live In Ljubljana (CF 256)
I had the honor of writing the liner notes for this fantastic album by one of my favorite bands, recorded live in Ljubljana, Slovenia on July 1, 2011. The band is Martin Küchen on alto sax, Alexander Zethson on piano, Eirik Hegdal on baritone and sopranino saxophones, Goran Kajfes on trumpet, Johan Berthling on double bass, Kjell Nordeson on drums,  Mats Äleklint on trombone, Mattias Ståhl on vibes. Check out their other albums too.

Here are the liner notes :

“The music on this album is dedicated to creating a better world; a world without war and killing, without poverty and exploitation; a world where men of all governments realize the vital importance of life and strive to protect rather than destroy it. We hope to see a new society of enlightenment and wisdom where creative thought becomes the most dominant force in all people’s lives”, Charlie Haden writes in the liner notes to the debut album of the Liberation Music Orchestra in 1969.

And it could have been written for Angles, a band that draws from the same well, both politically and musically. In its two previous albums, as on this one, Angles has a clear message against war and violence, against the terror and horror in our Vietnams of today, now located in the Middle-East, tomorrow possibly – and unfortunately probably – elsewhere again.

The musical link is as strong, drawing from an even deeper well, a source of sounds evoking the collectively shared sadness and revolt of common people, building on traditions of village wedding and funeral bands, playing music that is the emanation of their sentiments, with phrases that bounce off cobbled streets and melodies that resonate in dusty market squares. The ancient folk traditions are palpable: you can hear the European fanfare or brass bands, mixed with Latin echoes in the soloing on “Afternoon/By Way Of Deception”, the long first track, or tribal African rhythms in the percussive parts, with wisps of Balkan brass. By analogy, listen back to the Liberation Music Orchestra, listen to the great compositions “Nkosi Sikelel’i Afrika”, “Song For Ché”, “Sandino” or “La Passionaria”.

The themes here are equally grand and elaborate, with melodies that touch you deep in your heart with a strong feeling of an indefinable truth, melodies that keep repeating in your brain, with the cinematic power of a Nino Rota soundtrack, tunes and sounds that all of us have deeply ingrained in our unconscious, the universal feelings that we all share, with rhythms that come from life itself, fast at times, full of drama, full of anger, or slow, to commemorate the ones who came before, equally dramatic, full of sadness, and with improvisations that articulate the distress but also the jubilation of the individuals in that community, glorious, spiraling, serpentine, like the trance-like intertwining phrases of reed instruments in Berber bands, the unpolished raw yet mesmerizing interplay of African wedding music. This is not jazz, but a synthesis of real authentic music throughout the ages and cultures, rendered all the more powerful because of its modern format and virtuosic playing.

The idea to make the Angles sextet into an octet was a good one, making the sound fuller, giving more volume, offering more opportunities for contrast and depth, and making the grand themes even more sweeping and majestic. This is music for everyone to join in.

It is not a surprise that the band’s third album is also the third live recording, since the closeness to an audience seems critical, as a sounding board, as a prerequisite like the bands in the street, it is their feelings that are evoked and expressed. It is all about the audience. This is not the music for abstractions, individual artistic expressions or for esoteric elitism, this is music that resonates with immediate effect, hopefully also with lasting effect, contrasting the joy and the sadness, the laments and outcries. Yet don’t be mistaken, the music is carefully crafted and orchestrated, including sudden and unexpected rhythm changes, subtle and sensitive calmer moments, high speed unison lines, that unravel and reconstitute, with soaring improvisations, but it is the overall sound, the combined power that is the real hero here. It is agitating, gripping, irresistible, enchanting, enthralling, hypnotic, spellbinding, compelling, inciting you to join in, to be swept away by the collective feelings and aspirations.

The idea of communal music is to express the sentiments of those present, to give a voice to collective emotions that are too complex to articulate, except by music, except by great music. Liberating music.”

Improjazz review by Luc Bouquet

Improjazz review by Luc Bouquet

Improjazz review by Luc Bouquet

Improjazz review by Luc Bouquet

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Jonas Kullhammar/Torbjorn Zetterberg/Espen Aalberg – Basement Sessions Volume 1  (CF 246)
Creative modern improvised music has become a world phenomena. Anyone who listens to the total output in the genre in the last 20 years will be impressed, surely, with the development of players young and old who call the United States home, but the rest of the world is producing very good to excellent players in increasing numbers.   It’s of course been true of Europe for a long time. Today we look at a sax trio from Northern Europe, and what they did in a set titled Basement Sessions Volume 1 (Clean Feed 246). It’s Jonas Kullhammar, tenor and baritone, Torbjorn Zetterberg, double bass, and Espen Aalberg on drums.   Kullhammer has been making a name for himself in a series of recordings. He sounds especially primed on this one. He has sound and he does vertical invention with fluidity and soul. Perhaps the very lively collaboration of his rhythm team-mates inspired him to take things further. Zetterberg is a richly toned, very together player; Aalberg has drive and push on the drums.   It’s bluesy, modal, well-heated fare. The blowing vehicles are just right for the blowing that’s going on. It’s a very good showing from three very promising and together improvisers. It has roots but it blows over them with immediacy. So there you are!

Time Out Lisboa review by José Carlos Fernandes

Elliott Sharp Trio – Aggregat (CF 250)
Quem associa Elliott Sharp às franjas radicais e experimentais do jazz e em particular a esse coio de hereges que é a downtown nova-iorquina terá uma revelação: Sharp é capaz de swingar.

Este CD, em trio com Brad Jones (contrabaixo) e Ches Smith (bateria) e onde, em muitos temas, Sharp troca as guitarras pelos saxofones, é dos mais mainstream da sua discografia – o que não quer dizer que Sharp esteja na iminência de integrar a orquestra do Lincoln Center. O walking bass de “Allelia” é francamente sinistro, “Positronics” é música para as pistas de dança pós-cataclismo nuclear, “Refractory” soa como a caixinha-de-música de Belzebu, e em “The Grip” a secção rítmica swingante coexiste com uma guitarra vitriólica, que corroi tudo em seu redor.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Ballister is the confluence of Chicago alto-tenor-baritonist Dave Rempis and the Europeans Fred Lonberg-Holm and Paal Nilssen-Love, the former on cello and electronics and the latter of course on drums.

Mechanisms (Clean Feed 245) puts the three together live at the Hideout, Chicago, in late 2010.

Fred Lonberg-Holm’s cello in place of the expected double bass lightens up the texture of the music and gives more general frequency presence to what Fred is doing.

It’s a three-way freeway with three lengthy group-conceived extemporaneous workouts presented.

The group builds up energy that explodes in alto-cello-drums mayhem for the opening “Release Levers.” “Claplock” tones it down and gives some space for Rempis’s inspired saxophony, a phraser of stature, sound color master, post-Ayler, post-AACM wizard. Nilssen-Love reminds us why he is one of Europe’s premier free-drummers while Lonberg-Holm gets some interesting lines going in his own right. Rempis returns for some lucid wailing. He doesn’t always go where you expect and where he goes is something to hear. They get into another froth and Dave is in fine fettle. The final “Roller Nuts” kicks it up a couple notches with blow-out extroversions that will wake anybody up who has ears.

There is some very fine free sax trio music to be heard on Mechanisms. It says much about what sort of connection the three made that day–a synchronicity of a definite high order.