Daily Archives: September 18, 2012

All About Jazz Italy review by Maurizio Comandini

Elliott Sharp – Aggregat (CF 250)
Valutazione: 4 stelle
Il chitarrista Elliott Sharp ci ricorda in questo ottimo Aggregat (Clean Feed Records) che è anche un interessante saxofonista, oltre che un paladino del jazz sperimentale e d’avanguardia. I suoi tre strumenti (chitarra elettrica, sax tenore e sax soprano) sono ripartiti abbastanza equamente nei dodici brani che lo vedono in trio accompagnato dal bassista Brad Jones e il giovane batterista Ches Smith. Aggregat vede Sharp lontano dalle esasperazioni che spesso caratterizzavano il suo approccio radicale. Siamo dalle parti di Sonny Sharrock e di Ellery Eskelin, per capirci. L’iniziale “Nucular” è addirittura dedicata a Sonny Rollins. Ma con Sonny non ci sono confini generazionali o di genere che tengano… “Satan Sandwich,” di converso ci ricorda la musica dei film di Sergio Leone. Ovviamente filtrata dalla sensibilità di Elliott Sharp.

Quello che ascoltiamo è un free jazz con brandelli di struttura ancora bene individuabili che non sono semplicemente pure astrazioni sonore. Le composizioni sono tutte di Elliott Sharp, musicista sempre attento anche alla forma, oltre che alla sostanza. Si potrebbe dire che in questa occasione abbia pescato in maniera uniforme dalle sue varie esperienze, inclusa la fase blues che esplora col gruppo Terraplane. Il tutto avviene senza annacquare neppure per un istante le doti di grande creatività e coraggio che lo caratterizzano da sempre e senza mai perdere di vista il cuore della musica.

Free Jazz review by Philip Coombs

Pão – Pão (Shhpuma 002)
I really like the foreboding intro to this album, the latest release from the new Portuguese label Shhpuma. It straight away sets an ambiance and a suspense, a feeling that you are in for something really good. It’s like there is something in the mud just ahead. You can’t see it yet, but it can see you. It is waiting until you get too involved to turn around and run. It waits until it can make a clean strike. Cymbals crash like dead branches beneath your feet, the saxophone is blowing wind through the trees all around you. Where is it?

Track 2, ‘Dyson Tree’, picks up where track 1 ‘Gods wait do delight in you’ leaves off, with a continuous drone being churned out by Tiago Sousa (keyboards, organ, harmonium and percussion) with a very restrained saxophone implying a melody in the background. Before long, however, your ear is drawn away from the tones and is forced to pay closer attention to the sax solo. Pedro Sousa (tenor saxophone) weaves a wonderfully slow, distraught display of subtlety and places it perfectly into the aural atmosphere constantly being set by Tiago Sousa and Travassos (tapes, amplified objects, circuit bending, voice). Because of this mood and tempo, the solo, thoughtfully, takes its own sweet time to fully develop but throughout its journey, it continues to change, search and explore multiple ideas until it finishes on fire. As track 2 was fading to its conclusion, I was already looking forward to the final and longest track on the recording.

Could what was hiding in the mud be something beautiful after all?

‘It was all downhill after the swing’, starts with Pedro Sousa displaying an orchestras worth of extended technique, chirps, and throaty effects before giving way to the electronics that were building momentum behind him all along. There are moments when the saxophone and the harmonium blend together so well that it becomes difficult to tell them apart. Around the 9 minute mark, the suspense starts to build again as percussion elements take a larger role and big powerful key changes in the tone wall signify a shift in control of the melodic elements of the track. There is a real sense of urgency at play here but no rush, a very important difference indeed. It is an unknown destination with no maps and no time limit but just the feeling that they absolutely have to get there.

Eventually, whatever was in the mud, turns around and heads back very pleased with itself.

Considering that this is only the second release from Shhpuma, they are already proving to have a great set of collective ears which will hopefully translate into longevity and many continued intriguing releases.

Music and More review by Tim Niland

Elliott Sharp Trio – Aggregat (CF 250)
While many musicians “double” on multiple musical instruments, they are usually on instruments that are similar in range and texture, like saxophonists playing both tenor and soprano. So it was particularly interesting for Elliott Smith, a well known guitarist, to also add tenor and soprano saxophone to his repertoire on this trio album where he is accompanied by Brad Jones on bass and Ches Smith on drums. Sharp’s approach to saxophone is similar to his approach to guitar, aggressive and exciting, developing spirals and knots of sound with a raw and brawny tone. It’s rousing and somewhat jarring to hear the him switch back and forth between the instruments, but the music is well equipped for it and Jones and Smith are excellent developing a free tumbling rhythmic scheme. The opening track “Nucular” (a Sonny Rollins nod) and “Allelia” are focused on the saxophone, with Sharp developing squeals and long waves of pure sound and emotional exclamations over cool bass and drum support. “Hard Landing” is a stellar guitar based performance with Sharp blasting out angular shards of electricity and weaving them into an outrageously intense collective improvisation. The trio tumbles like acrobats on the guitar centered performance “The Grip” playing off deep textured snarling electric guitar against loping drums and bass to excellent effect. This was a very successful recording, Sharp proves himself a very powerful improviser on both guitar and saxophones, devising improvisations that make the most of his considerable skill as well as that of his bandmates, making for a substantial statement.