Daily Archives: December 26, 2012

emusic review by Britt Robson

CF 266Eric Revis 11:11, Parallax (CF 266)
It’s almost a shame Eric Revis is still best known as the longstanding bassist for the Branford Marsalis Quartet, because his own projects have been consistently meaty, masterful and stylistically multi-faceted. Parallax — his third disc as a leader, not counting the trio Tarbaby — is a bold, star-infused quartet date that deserves to be heard above all the year-end list-making hoopla surrounding its release.   Revis emerges as the guiding force among such dominant sidemen as pianist Jason Moran, Ken Vandermark on tenor and clarinet, and Nasheet Waits in the drummer’s chair. He stakes out the terrain with showcases that include a modulated blizzard of notes from his bow on the 80-second solo opener, “Prelusion”; agile plucking on the 102-second mid-disc solo, “Percival”; and the closing title track, an ominous and deliberate texture-contrast duet with Vandermark.

Revis challenges his supergroup in unique fashion by structuring “Celestial Hobo” around the individual musical reaction of each band member to a poem by Bob Kaufman. He and Waits build funhouse mirrors out of crazy-glue in their intrepid intros to two standards, raking and scratching for beats on Fats Waller’s “I’m Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter,” and lurching about like mimes pretending inebriation on Jelly Roll Morton’s “Winin’ Boy Blues.” And among Revis’s group compositions, “Edgar,” sports a marvelous stalk-swing groove that is by turns spooky and whimsical.

The sidemen deploy their enormous talents with bristling elegance, mixing brutish abandon with expertly honed restraint, so that the customary patterns of ensemble interplay are elevated and/or altered by extraordinary innovation. You hear it in the way Vandermark refuses to climax the tension of his high-wire clarinet solo on “MXR,” the way Waits swings the centrifugal force out to the periphery on the Waller tune, the two-handed gusto that Moran uses to both goad and waylay the groove on “IV,” and the distinct unison harmonies Moran and Vandermark wring out of their front-line tandem on many of the tracks. The two group improvisations are among the best of their kind that I’ve heard in recent years. “IV” is hard-bop rampaging through thorny rose bushes. “Hyperthral” lives up to its title, gradually escalating into shred-fest while Revis’s bass holds the ground with the ever-presence of an afternoon shadow. A “parallax” describes the displacement of an object viewed along two different lines of sight — an apt title for music with this many angles and ideas.

The New York Times review by Ben Ratliff

CF 266Eric Revis 11:11 – Parallax (CF 266)
The bassist Eric Revis likes to play strong and loud and is willing to cut across lines of style and tradition to satisfy his need. He’s done it in Branford Marsalis’s Quartet, one of this country’s top-billing jazz groups; in Tarbaby, a trio with the pianist Orrin Evans and the drummer Nasheet Waits; and in a trio led by the German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, with which he toured last year. That’s a pretty good range, from some baseline verities of the American jazz tradition to free improvising with art-brut appeal.

For his new album, “Parallax,” he’s found a new forum. Originally, for some 2009 New York club dates, he brought together a quartet with Ken Vandermark on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Jason Moran on piano, and Mr. Waits on drums.

This is good bridgework, particularly between Mr. Vandermark and Mr. Moran. Their worlds — in Chicago and New York — don’t overlap much. But they’re close enough. Both use compositional structures and organic group interplay and scholarship to experiment with jazz as a history and a process, revisiting old landmarks, shuffling tradition into new shapes. (They’re both MacArthur grant recipients, for those with scorecards.)

The music, rough and baleful, seems to have pretty old time-stamps on it, though. Much of “Parallax” sounds to me like the ’80s or early ’90s, reminiscent in passing of music by John Carter, Tim Berne, David S. Ware and many blended-together nights at the old Knitting Factory on Houston Street. It can sound like research into a variety of strategies: marches, groove, free rhythm; solo-bass features, sometimes double-tracked; blues language and collective improvisation; a Bob Kaufman poem interpreted variously in music by the band members; originals with small or jagged melodies and reworked old songs. (There are two pieces of old-time repertory: an emphatic, stomping version of Jelly Roll Morton’s “Winin’ Boy Blues” and a more indirect and wild paraphrasing of Fats Waller’s “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.”)

The record is searching for a partnership of sound, and so the action pulls toward Mr. Moran and Mr. Waits, who have one: they’ve played together for more than a decade and instinctively lock together through feel and dynamics. Some of the album’s thrills, like the tossing, tumbling passages in the middle of “Hyperthral,” “Split” and “IV,” are essentially theirs. Mr. Revis follows his own internal mandate to be stormy or forthright in his improvising, and so does Mr. Vandermark, but they can seem isolated within the project. The record’s a good idea, and a good start; the band needs more time to gestate.

Mark Corroto’s Best Releases of 2012 – All About Jazz

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the death of jazz have been greatly exaggerated. 2012 has been an outstanding year for jazz and improvised music. Here is a list of some of the best.

Stephen Gauci  Thunk! (Not Two Records)
Matt Wilson/Arts & Crafts Attitude For Gratitude (Palmetto)Rivers/Holland/Altschul Reunion: Live In New York (Pi Recordings)
Angles 5 By Way Of Deception (Clean Feed)
Steve Lehman Dialect Fluorescent (Pi Recordings)
New Zion Trio Fight Against Babylon (Veal Records)
Smith/Moholo-Moholo Ancestors (TUM Records)
Federico Ughi Songs For Four Cities (Skycap Records)
Elliott Sharp Aggregat (Clean Feed)
Rodrigo Amado Burning Live ( JACC)
Trio M The Guest House (Enja Records)
Aram Shelton Everything for Somebody ( Singlespeed)
Jason Stein Quartet The Story This Time ( Delmark)
Neneh Cherry/The Thing The Cherry Thing (Smalltown Superjazzz)
Rich Halley 4 Back From Beyond (Pine Eagle)
Zanussi 13 Live ( Moserobie)
Ivo Perelman The Foreign Legion (Leo Records)
Kullhammar/Aalberg Basement Sessions Vol.1 (Clean Feed)
Harris Eisenstadt Canada Day III ( Songlines)
Josh Berman/His Gang There Now (Delmark)

Troy Collins’ Best Releases of 2012 – All About Jazz

Considering the quantity of recordings released in a year’s time, attempting to compile an end of the year list mentioning every first-rate session would be difficult at best. The ten titles included below are among the most exceptional new jazz albums I’ve heard in 2012.

Jason Robinson – Tiresian Symmetry (Cuneiform Records)
Multi-instrumentalist Jason Robinson’s second Cuneiform release is once again inspired by Greek mythology. Despite the esoteric foundations of Robinson’s sophisticated writing, his nonet’s spectacularly creative interpretations evoke a far broader contemporary influence, ranging from thorny AACM-inspired creative orchestra music to evocative pre-war Ellingtonia.

Living By Lanterns – New Myth/Old Science (Cuneiform Records)
Working from practice tapes culled from Sun Ra’s El Saturn Audio Archive, drummer Mike Reed conceived new arrangements for an expanded version of his Loose Assembly quintet. This impressive summit meeting between Chicago and New York’s finest young improvisers transcends mere repertory, creating strikingly original new music from another artist’s unfinished material.

Mary Halvorson Quintet – Bending Bridges (Firehouse 12 Records)
The widely celebrated 2010 premier of Mary Halvorson’s Quintet confirmed the young guitarist’s growing reputation with a selection of urbane compositions as impressive as her idiosyncratic improvisations. This date offers further proof of Halvorson’s talent as leader of an eclectic ensemble whose efforts are as challenging as they are appealing.

Fred Lonberg-Holm’s Fast Citizens – Gather (Delmark Records)
Chicago’s current generation of creative improvising musicians draws pertinent parallels to the AACM’s polystylistic innovations, best exemplified by the collective Fast Citizens. Vanguard cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm serves as leader for their third album, ushering the group into brave new worlds that encapsulate the entire spectrum of the Windy City’s storied jazz history.

Darius Jones Quartet – The Book of Mae’bul (AUM Fidelity)
The third release from alto saxophonist Darius Jones to document his extraordinary growth as a bandleader delves into rarefied territory. Other than a few spirited numbers, languorous mid-tempo ballad fare dominates the session, providing another view of Jones’ expansive artistry in a more traditionally lyrical quartet setting.

Ross Hammond Quartet – Adored (Prescott Recordings)
The debut of Sacramento-based guitarist Ross Hammond’s Quartet is among the most impressive in his growing discography. Leading a stellar quartet of respected veterans, Hammond strikes a considered balance between the accessible and the avant-garde, making this a perfect introduction to the work of an artist deserving greater recognition.

Michael Formanek – Small Places (ECM Records)
Michael Formanek’s follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2009 ECM debut as a leader seamlessly blends the composed and improvised, effortlessly segueing from ethereal impressionism to earthy expressionism. His all-star quartet’s near clairvoyant interplay makes this one of the bassist’s finest albums.

Matthew Shipp Trio – Elastic Aspects (Thirsty Ear Recordings)
Pianist Matthew Shipp’s varied efforts over nearly three decades have increasingly focused attention on the venerable acoustic piano trio format. The second release by this particular lineup offers a bold reinterpretation of the tradition and a compelling reminder of Shipp’s singular mastery of the jazz idiom.

CF 259Angelica Sanchez Quintet – Wires & Moss (Clean Feed Records)
Despite her relatively low profile, pianist Angelica Sanchez’s sophomore Quintet effort expands upon its predecessor’s deft equipoise, gracefully shifting between open forms and taut written sections, conjuring vivid sonic panoramas that are among the most satisfying of her burgeoning career.

Ravi Coltrane – Spirit Fiction (ue Note Records)
Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane’s sixth record as a leader presents multiple facets of his diverse artistry in varied settings ranging from duo to quintet. Gracefully alternating between arcane post M-Base rhythmic experiments and more lyrical excursions, this is Coltrane’s most mature and engaging statement to date.