Monthly Archives: May 2013

Soundsgreen review by Marek Lubner

CF 265Christian Lillinger’s GRUND – Second Reason (CF 265)
Second Reason gives many reasons to write about it. One of them and also for me the most important is the drummer and composer – Christian Lillinger.

Some time ago, referring to his presentation, I’ve pointed out that he uses avant-garde drumming developments in the tradition of Han Bennink, Paul Lovens, Tony Oxley, Raymond Strid, Dylan Van Der Schyff, Günter “Baby” Sommer, Gino Robair and many others. With his intellectual speculation, unique body mechanics, articulation, sensitivity to the tone used by the instruments, his drums/percussion/megaphone appears rather not like conventional drum kit but like an platform, which includes not only the rhythm, tempo and dynamics, but also considers intonation of the whole band. Musician in a coherent and highly creative way adapts unprecedented stylistic diversity . In his playing and compositions artists such as Mos Def and MF Doom & MF Grimm, sometimes breakbeat or metrically broken hardcore, jazz harmonies and syncopations, interfere with twentieth-century contemporary music. The effect of this is remarkable, like when hard bop sounding themes (Perspektiven, Für Pfranz) as in the Charles Mingus’ compositions, just a few bars later due to reharmonization and metric changes began to sound as if Pierre Schaeffer or contemporarily Christian Marclay might have started working on them in a real time.

Combining expression and freedom over the form , presented here by all of the musicians, seems to be the most symptomatic for Lillinger. This balance actually constitutes his art, such as in Schnecke, when about third minute of the piece’s duration he starts playing, constantly offering conceptual variation figures, while being symbiotically fused with a course. Compositions (improvisations) signed by all of the sextet’s members, appear accurately and complementary to the whole album as played ad libitum Grund VI, in which band can maintain consistency and build ad hoc musical projection.

Undoubtedly leader’s vision could not be so successfully realized, if not the phenomenal artists co-working with him on this recording. Achim Kaufmann not only comfortably feels in jazz improvisation but in contemporary music as well, in Schnecke lyrically builds an introduction as György Ligeti in piano etudes or Giacinto Scelsi in his sonatas. Saxophonist Tobias Delius can make the tenor began to sound like a clarinet. Both with an alto player Pierre Borel are experienced in the field of contemporary music, presenting broad range of extended techniques, growls, roars, hisses, whispers, creaking, squeaking. In those treatments there is some anarchic force of the musique concrète. This stream of responses, contrasts, unflagging activity is given in an ideal proportions Bassists Jonas Westergaard and Robert Landfermann, in addition to working in the expanded rhythm section, also building rhythmic and harmonic emancipation of this music, bringing glissandos, volcanic arco sound. Vibraphonist Christopher Dell with his instrument’s tinge delivers melody and brightens the Grund’s mood.

Listening to the Grund’s second album, ensures me that I should rather say that the contemporary improvised music might begin to use the achievements in the Lillinger’s tradition. The music of tomorrow for today it is.

eMusic review by Dave Sumner

CF 276Harris Eisenstadt September Trio – The Destructive Element (cf 276)
A skeletal system formed of the blues, but like many Eisenstadt recordings, bones tend to warp and bend and dematerialize in ways not exactly human. But though this does possess many of the avant-garde characteristics of a typical Eisenstadt recording, it permeates a down home ambiance that’s tough not to fall for. Many tracks take the form of ballads, and held in combination with the blues, those were raw materials that Eisenstadt’s trio seemed to relish taking their time shaping, and that’s what gives the album much of its down-home demeanor. Highly Recommended.

Gaplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

CF 268Kris Davis – Capricorn Climber (CF 268)
Kris Davis is seemingly content to follow a direction that brings her music to a place all hers. And why not? Perhaps that music is not one typically played in the smoky, funky jazz clubs of yesteryear, with their modicum of tourists, drunks and traditionalists cheering and clamoring for endless choruses of bebop. Those places are nowadays harder and harder to fill up one’s dance card with anyway, and what her music is deserves hearing in whatever places welcome the new, the avant, the smart. There are (potentially) plenty of them and her music should be welcomed there, I would think.  All this hits me as I listen again to her album Capricorn Climber (Clean Feed 268). It’s a marvelous ensemble (quintet) effort with new music and improv at the forefront. Kris is on piano and contributes the compositions, all except one collective improvisation. She has an important place in the ensemble, often in the role of fellow front-line melodist and good-ideas improviser, but also as harmonic speller-out. Matt Maneri appears in his very inimitable viola style, a singular force. Ingrid Laubrock brings her tenor and gets a chance to wake us up to her own singularity. Then there is the very first-rate rhythm team of Trevor Dunn, bass, and Tom Rainey, drums, who interpret Kris’s charts beautifully and take full advantage of the spontaneous freedom they get in imaginative, personal ways.   Those are the parts at work on this disk. The sum is quite engaging. There are very sublime moments of group counterpoint, and there are all kinds of shades of other music making happening too. Davis and ensemble give us the avant music of the present, of the “right now,” and it is music that should be widely heard. Thank you Kris. Thank you quintet!!

All About Jazz Italy review by Andrea Calió

CF 262Paradoxical Frog – Union (CF 262)
Album prettamente free-jazz, Union è la seconda e ultima (per ora) fatica del trio Paradoxical Frog, che annovera Ingrid Laubrock al sax, Kris Davis al piano e Tyshawn Sorey alla batteria. Data l’implicita natura del genere suonato, non è facile decifrare in pochi ascolti un opera composta in maggioranza da brani lunghi il cui svolgimento è tutt’altro che lineare (o – per contro – a volte lo è inaspettatamente) ma che presenta momenti di sicuro interesse musicale. L’intento artistico è esemplificato dalla title-track, una elaborata composizione fra le più riuscite dell’album, che da un incipit timido e sbilenco si sviluppa sino ad un luminoso climax, acceso da un ancia incendiaria che fa da contraltare alle dolcissime armonie tessute dal piano.

La band sembra dare il meglio di sè laddove esista una parvenza di struttura formale a supportare l’andamento del brano. Così è nella complessa e sincopata “Fear the Fairy Dust” o in “Figment,” con la sua circolarità ipnotica, o ancora in “Masterisk,” una sognante narrazione in cui Sorey si cimenta per breve tempo al trombone.

Altrove nel disco quelle tensioni generate dall’improvvisazione collettiva si stemperano in parentesi sonore che restano appese e si concludono senza emozionare. Forse è questo il limite di un approccio “democratico” all’improvvisazione free che, pur garantendo l’equilibrio fra le voci in campo frustra a volte gli spunti solistici e impedisce a brani pur ben eseguiti di apparire più che meri esercizi stilistici: il tempo dirà se Paradoxical Frog, audace nell’intraprendere un percorso artistico lontano dalle tendenze di mercato, saprà dissipare queste poche ombre che lo separano da un definitivo salto di qualità.

Le Son du Grisli review by Guillaume Belhomme

CF 260Paul Lytton/Nate Wooley + Ikue Mori and Ken Vandermark (CF 260)
Deux enregistrements de concerts ont permis à Paul Lytton et Nate Wooley de peaufiner leur entente et d’enrichir leur discographie commune – d’un disque double, qui plus est : The Nows.

Le concert donné au Stone de New York date du 2 mars 2011. Le batteur charge en impatient, le trompettiste lui répond en frénétique : le repli viendra ensuite, au son de recherches percussives impertinentes et de notes de trompette qui y résistent ou se laissent par elles subtilement modifiées. Alors, Ikue Mori rejoint le duo : l’électronique éloigne un temps Wooley, qui reparaîtra pour parfaire l’ouvrage électroacoustique à coups d’exclamations franches. L’association aura brillé.

Le concert donné au Hideout de Chicago date du 16 mars 2011. Lytton et Wooley sur deux plages d’abord : notes longues de trompette contre claques redoublées, les secondes réussissant bientôt à faire danser les premières ; dialogue intergénérationnelle qui s’amuse de ses différences sur une même pratique de l’improvisation alerte. Alors, Ken Vandermark rejoint le duo : une fois que la clarinette basse aura charmé Wooley, ce sera au ténor que le trompettiste devra s’opposer avec force. L’un comme l’autre amateur de déroute, les deux souffleurs construiront un interlude comme privés soudain de leurs nerfs, avant de reprendre les hostilités : baryton répétitif que la trompette pourra citer pour mieux l’agacer encore. L’association aura autrement brillé.

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

CF 267Lotte Anker, Rodrigo Pinheiro, Hernâni Faustino – Birthmark (CF 267)

Here is my rating overview of Lotte Anker albums on this blog :

– Live At The Loft (2009) : ***** – Floating Islands (2009) : ***** – Alien Huddle (2008) : ****

Here is my rating overview of RED trio albums on this blog : – RED Trio + Nate Wooley – Stem (2012) ; ***** – RED Trio + John Butcher – Empire (2011) : ****½ – RED Trio (2010) : ****

That’s a lot of five stars for a few albums. So, when Danish saxophonist Lotte Anker teams up with Portuguese pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro and bassist Hernani Faustino from RED Trio, you can bet that magic is the air. And yes, they deliver the goods. What more can I say, that yes, I am a little bit biased because I had the honor of writing the liner notes, which I reproduce below, which saves me the effort of writing a review. Intensity, lyricism, sensitivity and character guaranteed.

“Intensity, you cannot put your finger on it … though you know it when you hear it. Nervous tension, the creation of anticipation, the quick-turn changes, the effect of being in the moment, all three, at the same time, then adding a flowing continuity, building expectations, building tension, new expectations, new tension. What you hear surprises you, it captivates you, every note, every sound a story by itself. Listen to the slow shimmering tones of Lotte Anker, and the precise and cautious sparse piano notes that Rodrigo Pinheiro adds, accurate, without abundance, just the right few notes that make it work, the dark tones of Hernani Faustino’s bass, one accent here, another foundational color there. What is happening? You wonder … you wonder about the beauty you hear, the worlds that unfold behind your ears the images behind your eyes … enveloped in shimmering light, subtle yet dense, ephemeral yet solid … the space between substance … the nature of contrast. Intensity may be the result of paradoxes, a feeling of alienation combined with the comfort of recognition, the alienation of form with the recognition of emotion, the feeling that these light textures and joint instant lyricism reveal something known, a fleeting familiar feeling, implied but never stated phrases, melodies that evaporate before they become, images out of long-gone memories or images spontaneously arising, you don’t know, it is beauty offered. Intensity is about giving value to each note as part of a broader canvas, created together, with each little note valuable like glittering diamonds in a necklace, with silence acting as emptiness to emphasise the quality of the tone, the shade of the sound, their combined effect. Intense calm, controlled passion. Stretching tones on alto on arco with piano like raindrops piercing through fog. Skittering like bird song, fresh naïve and real, with somehow a menace in the background, something that might disturb, that might alter and it does, the mood changes, but somehow the structure doesn’t, still the skittering bird song, the piano the bass menacing, the bird song in distress. Ongoing surprise, unpredictability, deep experience. Don’t think while listening. Go with the sounds. Let go. Let yourself be surprised. You will be taken to strange places … intense and rich and authentic places”.

Written in Music review by Henning Bolte

CF 275Lama – Lamaçal (CF 275)
Rating: 4.5
Lama, trompet, contrabass, drums, is een jong Portugees-Canadees trio met een stevige poot in Rotterdam en in Porto. Lama, dat zijn Susana Santos Silva, Gonçalo Almeida en Greg Smith. Op Lamaçal, hun tweede album op Clean Feed, live tijdens het Portalegre Jazzfest opgenomen, is het trio uitgebreid met klarinettist/saxofonist Chris Speed als gast. Lama bestaat uit drie jonge musici die er boven uit steken, op een bijzondere manier te werk gaan, iets boeiends te vertellen hebben en een sterke groepsidentiteit uitstralen. Op een souvereine wijze hanteren ze een breed arsenaal aan goed geabsorbeerde technieken en benaderingen uit de jazztraditie, weten deze volledig in dienst van hun eigen verbeelding te stellen en creëren – net als op hun eerste album Oneiros – een fascinerend geluid. De samenwerking met Chris Speed ligt in het voor de hand liggende verlengte daarvan.   Of het nou een Ornettish stuk is als Pair Of Dice of een stuk in treurmars-sfeer als Manta, het opgewekte voortwalsen van het titelstuk Lamaçal, de walviszang van Moby Dick, de schone melodie over een Bolero-achtig repeterend bas-motief van Anémona of de fraaie handrumming van Cachalote (potvis) – het overtuigt allemaal en vormt een kleurrijk oceanisch geheel. De zee als leefwereld speelt een prominente rol in alle stukken en de geest van Ornette waait door alle stukken. Het sterkst zoals al eerder gezegd in Pair Of Dice dat alle kwaliteiten van Ornettes Una Muy Bonita (1960, Change Of The Century) in zich heeft. En Santos Silva heeft in haar frasering onmiskenbaar iets van het onbevreesde momentum van Don Cherry. Haar samenspel met Chris Speed is rijk, sophisticated en vol productieve spanning.   De bijzondere kwaliteit van Lamas muziek zit hem vooral in de overgangen tussen de stukken en binnen de stukken: fantasievol, verleidelijk en spannend. Een belangrijk onderdeel daarvan zijn de passages waarin één instrument het alleen voor zijn rekening neemt, het stuk uitdiept of een ander terrein in voert. Anders dan klassieke jazz-solos dus. Lama’s kern: een innemende combinatie van rauwheid, melodie en koen trekken van uitdagende lijnen, de manier waarop speelplezier en concentratie samenkomen.   Santos Silva speelt alles waar een trompet voor gemaakt is, Almeida heeft een gaaf vibrerende basklank en breidt zijn geluid op een bijzondere manier met subtiel inwerkende electronica uit. Smith, steeds firm, flexibel en snel agerend, heeft alles op het juiste moment letterlijk bij de hand zonder ook maar een moment te showen. Alles wat deze vier musici hier spelen, blijft aldoor verbazingwekkend grounded terwijl ze tegelijk alle vier constant nieuwe perspectieven openen, doorzetten en aan het verschuiven zijn. De fascinatie van het luisteren blijft. Hun lukt blijkbaar wat veel anderen slechts proberen: het creëren van fantasiewerelden die mensen aanspreken, fantasiewerelden die tot onze verbeelding spreken en onze redding in de zee van de werkelijkheid kan worden. Doet o.a. aan Josef Nadj, Wassili Kandinsky, Manoel de Oliveira en Robert Wilson denken. De fraaie album-cover – voor mij de mooiste die ik tot nu toe dit jaar ben tegengekomen – verbeeld dit sprekend.   En dan beseffen dat dit alles zich uit modder vormt. Lama, dat is ‘modder’ in het Portugees. Je moet enige lef en het nodige zelfbewustzijn hebben om dat als groep als uitgangspunt te nemen en je zelfs zo te noemen! De albumtitel Lamaçal, slib, gaat zelfs nog een stuk verder. Zee, getijden, deining, slib, creatie …. Santos Silva, Goncales en Smith hebben er iets boeiends uitgehaald en het prikkelend vorm gegeven!

All About Jazz Italy Vittorio Albani

CF 263Ingebrigt Håker Flaten – Now Is (CF 263)
Potremmo essere velocissimi. Il bassista norvegese che oggi abbraccia gli orizzonti texani è davvero uno dei musicisti che sono entrati da qualche anno nel gotha del free più creativo e propositivo. La portoghese Clean Feed, che lo sa da qualche tempo, lo santifica nuovamente con questo Now Is che potrebbe davvero essere la definitiva consacrazione di Håker Flaten, crema eccelsa del movimento più intelligente legato alla musica contemporanea. E lui, per non deludere nessuna attesa, benedice il nuovo lavoro lasciando a casa ogni scelta ritmica per eccellenza, scegliendo un inaspettato e sorprendente quartetto con il fido Joe McPhee al tenore, il chitarrista Joe Morris e il trombettista Nate Wooley. Niente batteria, niente pianoforte. Le poche basi interpretative toccano il blues e atomi di bop; il resto è pura improvvisazione in senso davvero nuovo e lontano sia dalle “classiche” accezioni europee o nordiche, sia da quelle del fin qui conosciuto mondo chicagoano o che comunque gravita attorno a quelle aree. Il risultato è una tela sonora di vastità rara; materiale musicale da analizzare per ore che piacerebbe sicuramente a Pollock, per niente assimilabile a qualcosa di similare affrontato da formazioni imparentate ma, forse, più concettualmente vicino alle filosofie di Malachi Favors con un pizzico del Charlie Haden più ricercato. Now Is è un gioco di affinità elettive, spazio destrutturato, quaranta minuti di precisione, dove nulla sembra lasciato al caso. Empatia spontanea e frammenti di lucida avantgarde cross-generazionale. Wooley ci piace moltissimo in “Rangers,” Morris in “As If,” McPhee in “Knicks,” Håker Flaten, giustamente, dovunque.

Che cosa vuol dire? Vuol dire che la tendenza è quella di una pittura sonora dove ogni tassello santifica le varie personalità e l’energia di ogni attore del lavoro. Qualcosa di metallico che avvicina il tutto al punk-jazz e poi il piccolo mare luminoso dei due minuti e rotti finali di “Post,” ballad che chiude il cerchio aperto con il “Port” iniziale.

Astratto ma mai tagliente, sensuale in modo certamente peculiare e personale, selvaggio e controllato quanto basta. Di certo non un capolavoro imperdibile, ma trentanove minuti da studiare a fondo per comprendere le nuove costellazioni del cielo di una modern music fatta di accenti, spazio, colore, cacofonia, naturalezza e momenti di autentica tensione. Grandiosa sintesi di ciò che oggi potrebbe essere per molti eccitazione, per altri (i più distratti) noia. L’originalità è però davvero unica ed è questa, innanzitutto, da portare sull’altare.

Squid’s Ear review by Phil Zampino

CF 267Anker / Pinheiro / Faustino – Birthmark (CF 267)
The trio of Anker, Pinheiro and Faustino is a reunion of sorts, as all three are part of the Variable Geometry Orchestra, as heard in the 2007 Creative Sources release Still. As a smaller working group the three find common ground in abstract free improvisation, recording this exemplary album of distinctive playing. The Copenhagen-born, New York-based saxophonist Lotte Anker enjoys a diversity of settings, which includes the trio of Anker, Taborn, Cleaver, and the Mokuto Trio with Peter Friis Nielsen and Peter Ole Jorgens. Pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro and bassist Hernani Faustino are both members of Lisbon’s Red Trio, who bring a variety of tactics to contemporary improvisation, using abstract density and tangential lines that bring an interesting equilibrium to their work.

Bassist Faustino’s roots are as an electric rock bassist; in this trio setting his playing on the double bass, plucked and bowed, keeps a steady yet never frantic pulse while maintaing a healthy distance from obvious choices. Pianist Pinheiro works in clusters and long lines, creating circular structures that lead into interesting and unexpected avenues, often through complex and meticulous runs. Where Red Trio tends to plays quickly and percussively, here Pinheiros and Faustino are more subdued and introspective. The recordings appear on the surface to present more melodic interplay than is typically associated with these players, probably attributable to the influence of Lotte Anker’s playing. Anker is an expressive player, with a relaxed tone that reminds of Lee Konitz or Paul Desmond, though her strategies are much different. Her effortless playing belies the fierce technique and creative strength of her mind, heard in both short figures and extended runs, with beautiful melodic glimpses that resolve in elegant ways. Her playing takes this trio into territory that sounds restrained, yet on inspection is filled with intricate and expansive approaches to improvisation.

On the seven tracks of Birthmark all three players are intently listening, constraining wilder flights in favor of educated and confident discourse. “Golden Spiral” is the perfect example of this trio’s dialog, an extended work that gives ample time to each player. The work unfolds slowly, led by Faustino’s bowing work, while Anker slowly adds harmonic utterances and short crying tones that extend as Pinheiro introduces single tones, short rhythmic steps that push Anker forward; Pinheiro’s lower register playing is offset by Anker’s high tones, while Faustino maintains a low circular foundation, all three building tension. The playing increases in intensity without gaining speed, an interesting illusion that gains momentum with increased activity: Anker extending her lines, Faustino’s bowing becoming more forceful, and Pinheiro’s playing adding more complexity and range. The music becomes a subtle whirlpool, adding harmonic strength, and then unexpectedly dropping out for a solo section from Pinheiros, from which the piece builds again. This kind of exchange characterizes the trio, who provide space and support for each other without allowing the improvisations to become excessive or agitated. The music has a sort of delicacy, keen and astute, but never overbearing; it is a model of control and discipline while fascinating the listener with each player’s voice, and with their compelling conversation.

Squid’s Ear review Florence Wetzel

CF256Angles 8 – By Way of Deception, Live in Ljubjana (CF 256)
This powerful live recording from the Swedish group Angles is a welcome addition to the fine tradition of protest music. The “deception” in the title can be interpreted many ways, but surely it refers in part to the Western leaders who live at an emotional distance from the wars they wage abroad. Yet despite the machinations of the leaders, the people of the world can always find mutual ground, particularly through the common denominator of music. With Angles’ latest release, they face the deception head-on: this is music by the people for the people, with the hope of waking up the people.

Angles normally has six members, but for their 2011 performance at the 52nd Ljubljana Jazz Festival they added a second saxophonist and a pianist. The extra sax lends vigor to their already potent front line of trombone, trumpet, and sax, and the piano finds a cousin in the group’s vibraphone, that beautifully resonant instrument so woefully underrepresented in avant-free groups. The audience is also a member of the group, energizing the band through their receptivity and appreciation, and adding a lift to the music that can be felt even via a recording.

The CD starts off with the twenty-minute “By Way of Deception,” an urgent song that sweeps up the listener with its vitality and jubilant energy. The song is full of shifting interludes with threads of folk music, displaying the group’s mighty front line as well as exquisite interplay between different instrumental combinations. “Dactyloscopy” is a wild and woolly dance, a mighty burst of chaos that highlights the musicians’ mobility and great freedom of expression. “Today Is Better than Tomorrow” is a tuneful, stately piece that’s deeply heartfelt, and “Let’s Speak about the Weather (and Not about the War)” is full of playful rhythms, including some shining vibraphone work. The performance closes with the thirty-minute tour de force “Don’t Ruin Me / Let’s Tear the Threads of Trust,” a grand exploration that includes full-on cacophony with all hands on deck, plus sparer interludes with splendid bass and piano solos.

This music is on fire — it’s full of passion and purpose, and it brings to the fore the talents of these eight excellent musicians as they speak their truth through sound. A world without deception is surely possible, but for true change to occur, everyone will need to summon up their highest abilities and deepest aspirations. By creating music that is simultaneously a call to arms and a joyful celebration, Angles 8 is certainly doing their part.