Daily Archives: June 11, 2013

All About Jazz review by Mark Corroto

clean feed made to break layout TEXTO DIFERENTE - ROJOMade To Break – Provoke (CF 273)
The evolution of Ken Vandermark continues with his new quartet Made To Break, an electric/acoustic ensemble that bridges his musical strengths of composition, organization, and improvisation. Founded in 2011, the saxophonist drew together bassist Devin Hoff  (The Resonance Ensemble), drummer Timothy Daisy (Vandermark 5, The Frame Quartet, Sound In Action Trio, Bridge 61), and a new contributor, Christof Kurzmann  (electronics).

In the early 2000s, Vandermark’s interest in non-jazz elements like funk and reggae developed with his Spaceways Inc. trio and electronics with Frame Quartet and Powerhouse Sound, the latter featured Scandinavian noise artist Lasse Marhaug . His improvising, both solo and in duo (with Daisy) also became an important path for him. As he retired these young projects (including the most successful V5), the seeds for Made To Break were planted.

Provoke and the LP (only) Lacerba (Clean Feed, 2013) are the fruits of his latest transformation. Conceived as compositional modules, each lengthy piece is built of blocks or modules of sound in which players improvise within. The music is a more methodical version of John Zorn’s Cobra and resolves itself as a democratic version of a Butch Morris

Conduction. Opening “Further (for John Cage)” with a simple tenor/drums duet, the piece builds into a heavy funk with the shock of electronics sizzling. The music morphs several times, here and with all tracks, into meditative passages, lyrical (dare I say songlike hymns?) and heavy rock elements. Each module, opens up possibilities of soloing, duos and group interactions. “Presentation (for Buckminster Fuller)” opens with Kurzmann’s electronic circuits firing, fizzling and smoldering as an invitation for some strikingly exquisite clarinet that segues into heavy electric bass destruction.

Each module is a cause for spontaneous structures, improvisation on jazz and non-jazz elements, and like all emerging music, some surprises.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=44685

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All About Jazz review by C. Michael Bailey

At the Corner: Ran Blake / Sara Serpa / Christine Correa
The common element between Sara Serpa’s Aurora and Christine Correa’s Down Here Below is obviously pianist Ran Blake. Enigmatic to a fault, Blake has made a potent name for himself among improvised music enthusiasts. Blake is an intellectual amalgam of pianists Thelonious Monk and Martial Solal distilled to a dissonant essence.

A long time professor at the New England Conservatory, Blake has taken many under his tutelage, specifically singers, beginning with Jeanne Lee on The Newest Sound Around (BMG, 1962) . Two contemporary singers claiming Blake as a mentor are Sara Serpa and Christine Correa, who each has recorded with Blake previously. These two recordings illustrate art made by like minds sharing the same intellectual space

CF 264Sara Serpa and Ran Blake – Aurora Clean Feed (CF 264)
Camera Obscura (Inner Circle Music, 2010) was the first recorded collaboration between vocalist Sara Serpa and her mentor, pianist Ran Blake. That recording was a moody assault on the fringes of the American Songbook, culminating in an “April In Paris” recorded at the Bates Motel after the word got out about Norman’s mother. Aurora continues where Camera Obscura left off. If anything, Aurora is darker and more nuanced. A bouncy “Moonride” smolders into a stark and terrifying “Strange Fruit,” full of vocal gymnastics and vocalese.

Blake contributes a lengthy original to the mix in “Mahler Noir,” eight minutes that could serve as a soundtrack of any of Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther stories. Imagine Wagner, mad with Beethoven, pounding out a suffering late-Romantic recital piece. Disconcerting and off- putting, this strange music has a gravitational pull that disallows any quick dismissal, reeling the listener in to hear “just what is going to happen next.”

“The Band Played On” is where everything fully clicks. The late-19th Century popular tune is delivered as a crippled calliope song with Serpa taking her liberties with the material, making it suited for the remake of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. While this sounds negative, it is anything but. A certain genius on Serpa and Blake’s part governs the interpretation of these songs, something beyond the postmodern…something well beyond.

Ran Blake and Christine Correa – Down Here Below: Tribute to Abbey Lincoln Volume One (Self Produced)
Vocalist Christine Correa has had a twenty-year musical relationship with Ran Blake that has resulted in Roundabout (Music and Arts, 1994), Out of the Shadows (Self Produced, 2010) and the present Down Here Below: Tribute to Abbey Lincoln Volume One. Neither artist show the least bit of interest in the status quo, instead opting to push the perimeter of existing repertoire well beyond the bounds of traditional performance.

As with the Serpa disc, Blake remains taciturn introspective, allowing notes to collide almost randomly while Correa provides just enough aural memory that a theme to the performances indeed does exist and that theme is based on another iconoclastic artist, Abbey Lincoln. The title piece is offered in two half—a cappella renderings, delivered full-throated by Correa, dissolving into Blake’s most introspective playing on the disc. The pianist turns inward in search of the necessary pathos to spill upon the keys.

The pair also doubles Oscar Brown Jr.’s “Freedom Day,” delivering an almost desperately anxious performance in the first take, while the second take comes off more rhythmically sound with Correa no less extroverted than the first take. “Brother, Can You Spare Me A Dime” is completely transformed from a saloon tune to a post-modern blues hymn. Where Serpa is finesse and irony, Correa is sheer power and fractured momentum.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=44581

All About Jazz review by Mark Corroto

CF 272Sophie Agnel/ John Edwards/ Steve Noble: Meteo (CF 272)
The liner notes said it best, …”listening is a form of improvisation.” To be sure, no two listeners come away from Meteo with the same experience. This single track (38:25) live recording from the 2012 Festival Météo in Mulhouse France is a first time meeting of the French pianist Sophie Agnel and the British rhythm section of John Edwards (bass) and Steve Noble (drums).

While rhythm is often an intramural device, here it is a highly personal interchange between masterly improvisers. Agnel, a classically trained pianist, has focused her energies on free improvisation, prepared piano, and music beyond category like fellow musicians Stéphane Rives, Michel Doneda, and Jean-Luc Guionnet. Edwards and Noble are two-thirds of the band Decoy with pianist Alexander Hawkins, members of the London Improvisers Orchestra, and have backed the jazz giants Joe McPhee, Lol Coxhill, Alan Wilkinson, and Peter Brotzmann.

The disc begins with a crash and rattle of drum and cymbal and the simultaneous manipulation of both inside and outside of the piano. The trio sets a pulse that they return to, but not until they have traced a line from tonal to atonal music and silence to noise. Agnel works with a palette of new piano sounds, like a saxophonist’s extended technique, dealing with the physicality of her instrument. Likewise Edwards and Noble are often scraping an exorcism of sound from their instruments. With barely a pause for ideas, the applied cymbal strike, the woodiness of the bass and the harp-like qualities of the piano’s insides yield an energy that climaxes somewhere at 31 minutes. Exhaustion follows, and the shortish (by digital standards) piece requires no more time to qualify as a nonpareil.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=44684