Monthly Archives: June 2013

emusic review by Dave Sumner

CF 271Ellery Eskelin – Mirage (CF 271)
Eskelin has been having a strong 2013, having contributed to some of the better releases this year (albums by Ben Goldberg and Harris Eisenstadt immediately spring to mind). Now, back with an album as session leader, the veteran saxophonist displays his perpetually intriguing sound of experimental music with a deep lyricism. For this recording, it’s a trio of Ellery Eskelin (tenor sax), Michael Formanek (double bass) and Susan Alcorin (pedal steel guitar), and the resulting music is an intoxicating, moody type of avant-garde… music for the quiet moments of the day, but which engages the ear with no little passion. Highly Recommended.
http://www.emusic.com/17dots/2013/06/19/new-jazz-this-week-with-jim-black-ellery-eskelin-bill-frisell-more/

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All About Jazz Italy review by Angelo Leonardi

CF 276Harris Eisenstadt September Trio – The Destructive Element (CF 276)
Valutazione: 4.5 stelle
Nato nel 2010 il September Trio è una delle formazioni più emozionanti del jazz attuale. Ha inciso il primo disco omonimo l’anno successivo per la Clean Feed ed ora presenta questo nuovo lavoro, registrato ancora per l’etichetta portoghese il 29 e 30 settembre 2012 a Portalegre. Alla fine di giugno compirà un mini tour europeo con una data a Poznan in Polonia e due in Italia, invitato dal Sudtirol Festival: il 30 a Bolzano e il 1° luglio a Merano. Inutile evidenziare l’importanza degli appuntamenti. Harris Eisenstadt è un nome ancora poco noto nel nostro Paese, nonostante abbia inciso 14 dischi da leader e molti altri in progetti e collaborazioni di rilievo. Batterista e compositore, s’è distinto in particolar modo per l’originalità di scrittura, che si esplica in temi eclettici e ricercati, in una sintesi suggestiva con le avanguardie storiche degli anni sessanta. In questa formazione la sua estetica trova ampia concordanza con quella dei suoi partner. Eskelin in particolare ha recentemente accentuato (si veda il trio con l’organista Gary Versace e il batterista Gerald Cleaver) l’adesione ai valori “classici” del sax tenore, valorizzando maggiormente il suo magnifico timbro che rivela suggestive assonanze con Gene Ammons, Sonny Rollins e persino John Coltrane.

Se il disco d’esordio September Trio, privilegiava anomale ballad dai colori crepuscolari e sottili equilibri timbrico/melodici, qui troviamo ampia varietà di forme e riferimenti espressivi. Già il brano d’apertura “Swimming, Then Rained Out” si distanzia rapidamente dall’intimo lirismo iniziale per svilupparsi con veemenza e passione nel lungo intervento di Eskelin. Dopo un ulteriore passo in questa direzione, con riferimenti a Coltrane e alla stagione del free storico, la prospettiva muta con il primo dei due omaggi a Schoenberg. I temi s’ispirano al “Concerto per violino e orchestra” del compositore viennese con soluzioni avvincenti (soprattutto la seconda parte) e momenti d’intenso interplay. Il prosieguo del disco è ispirato e vario: Angelica Sanchez evidenzia tutto il suo valore nei ricercati e intensi sviluppi di “Cascadia” – una delle gemme del disco – , Eisenstadt sembra raccogliere la lezione di Paul Motian anche nel sostegno prezioso e antispettacolare. Anche se questi è nominalmente il leader, risulta piuttosto evidente la natura paritaria della formazione che interagisce con i percorsi tematici trovando inventive soluzioni. Un chiaro esempio è “Here Are the Samurai”.

Un percorso in equilibrio tra lirismo, passione e lucide soluzioni formali, dove la distinzione tra improvvisazione e composizione non ha più ragione d’esistere. Vivamente raccomandato.
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=9207

Le Son du grisli review by Guillaume Belhomme

clean feed made to break layout TEXTO DIFERENTE - ROJOMade to Break – Provoke (CF 273)
Dans le texte imprimé à l’intérieur de Provoke, Ken Vandermark explique les origines de son nouveau (2011) projet, Made To Break : méthodes de composition développées au sein de FME et The Frame Quartet – pour plus de précision : influence de Nate McBride, est-il écrit – associé à un goût pour le funk qu’avait déjà révélé le souffleur en Spaceways Inc. ou Powerhouse Sound.

Enregistré à l’occasion des concerts organisés à Lisbonne pour le dixième anniversaire de la maison Clean Feed, Provoke expose des patchworks aux pièces disparates : la présence de Devin Hoff n’étant pas celle de McBride, il arrive au groupe de pâtir d’une rusticité contre laquelle l’électronique de Christof Kurrzmann, pourtant astucieuse, ne peut rien. Alors, le saxophone se contente, à sa façon, de rebondir sous les coups que Tim Daisy porte à sa batterie.

Mais au mitan – et pour un tiers de concert quand même –, l’harmonie point. Sur une boucle lente dont l’allure entraîne la clarinette basse, Hoff est invité à plus de discrétion et voici le funk étouffé. La musique gagne en envergure et son atmosphère est maintenant inquiète et pénétrante. Malheureusement, de passage seulement ; on ne doute cependant pas que Made to Break puisse mieux faire…
http://grisli.canalblog.com/

Chicago Reader review by Peter Margasak

CF 260Paul Lytton / Nate Wooley – The Nows (CF 260)
Percussionist Paul Lytton is almost 27 years older than trumpeter Nate Wooley, but they’ve built a strong musical relationship atop their shared roots in jazz, finding common cause in rigorous explorations of abstract sound and free improvisation. One of the ways they’ve kept their collaborations energized and unpredictable has been to invite guest players—including Swiss bassist Christian Weber, guitarist David Grubbs, reedist Ken Vandermark, and electronics improviser Ikue Mori. For last year’s superb double CD The Nows (Clean Feed), Vandermark and Mori each joined Wooley and Lytton for a trio session, and you can hear the duo bending and pushing in different ways to accommodate these very different guests. With Mori involved they emphasize texture-rich sound, creating eddies and crags within the electronicist’s liquid output: Wooley employs his most abrasive vocabulary (sharp squeals, unpitched blubbering), and Lytton uses his kit like an elaborate washboard, rubbing, scraping, and thwacking. When they work with Vandermark, the music is more like free jazz, with a relatively pronounced rhythmic thrust and clear linear interplay between the horns. Joining the duo tonight is Chicago percussionist Tim Daisy, who’s adept at the clattery rustling that Lytton helped pioneer but tends to act as more of a propulsive force. I can’t begin to predict how things will shake out with him, and that’s precisely the point.
http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/nate-wooley-paul-lytton-and-tim-daisy/Event?oid=10021819

Notebook reviews by Tom Hull

CF 272Sophie Agnel/John Edwards/Steve Noble: Meteo (CF 272)
Pianist, b. 1964 in Paris; tenth album since 2000, a trio with Edwards on bass and Noble on drums. Free, the piano often lurking as bass and drums set up a forest of uncertainty, but very impressive when it all comes crashing together. B+(***)

CF 276Harris Eisenstadt September Trio – The Destructive Element (CF 276)
Drummer, b. 1975 in Toronto, father was also a drummer; has been prolific since 2002 — AMG lists 14 records, one (looks like) a dupe, but hasn’t logged this one yet. One of the best of those was his 2011 September Trio with Ellery Eskelin on tenor sax and Angelica Sanchez on piano. Same group here: Eskelin is superb at stepping around the rhythms, while the pianist burns right through them, adding more along the way. A-

CF 271Ellery Eskelin/Susan Alcorn/Michael Formanek: Mirage (CF 271): Tenor sax, pedal steel guitar, bass. Main mystery here is Alcorn, who has an album with Dr. Eugene Chadbourne titled An Afternoon in Austin, or Country Music for Harmolodic Souls (Boxholder; I haven’t heard it). She’s hard to follow here, merging into the bass and rarely coming out. Eskelin responds with ballad volume, but with no one offering him a groove he has to tiptoe around the uncertainty. B+(**)

CF 275Lama + Chris Speed – Lamaçal (CF 275)
Live at Portalegre Jazz Fest, they say “10o edition” but mean 2012. Speed, who should need no intro, plays tenor sax and clarinet. Lama is a trumpet trio led by Susana Santos Silva, with Gonçalo Almeida on bass and Greg Smith on drums, both also dabbling in electronics, and this is their second album. A little slow on the start, but when the horns get working they bounce off one another splendidly. B+(***)

clean feed made to break layout TEXTO DIFERENTE - ROJOMade to Break – Provoke (CF 273)
Ken Vandermark group, with V5 drummer Tim Daisy, Devin Hoff on electric bass, and Christof Lurzmann on “lloopp” — a free software package for live-improvising on a computer. Three longish (19, 20, 24 minutes) Vandermark pieces, dedications to John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, and Marshall McLuhan. The electronics have some difficulty gaining traction, and never amount to more than background, so this reduces to Vandermark’s performance: a little screechy on clarinet, but a powerhouse on tenor sax. Group also has a new LP (vinyl only) called Lacerba, which I didn’t get. B+(***)

CF 269Trespass Trio + Joe McPhee – Human Encore (CF 269)
Trespass Trio is Martin Küchen (alto/baritone sax), Per Zanussi (bass), and Raymond Strid (drums). They’re one of several groups I file under Küchen, their two previous albums less successful than the larger Angles. McPhee, a double threat on tenor sax and pocket trumpet — split here is 5 cuts to 4 — plays with everyone, often blowing them away. He doesn’t do that here, perhaps because Küchen doesn’t challenge him; they just negotiate odd angles, as they are wont to do. B+(**)
http://www.tomhull.com/ocston/notebook/latest.php

Expresso review by João Santos

CF 271Ellery Eskelin – Mirage (CF 271)
5 estrelas
Mal se anunciou “Mirage”, Ellery Eskelin postou a boa-nova no fórum “Sax on the Web”, divulgando o lançamento e aproveitando para testar as funcionalidades da página no que diz respeito à alocação de ficheiros áudio distribuídos pela plataforma SoundCloud. Consuetudinariamente chegaram-lhe mensagens congratulatórias e questionários acerca do processo de gravação, levantando-se uma dúvida referente à captação do baixo. O saxofonista esclareceu o forense e lembrou que, naquela circunstância, partilhava dados no formato MP3, pelo que a qualidade da audição dependeria do equipamento utilizado na sua reprodução. Quando o seu interlocutor confessou estar a escutar através dos altifalantes de um portátil, Eskelin compreendeu o equívoco, desabando: “de certa maneira estamos a regredir com tanta tecnologia”. O episódio ganha pertinência no contexto da apresentação de um disco intitulado miragem; e, numa perspetiva mais oblíqua, revela-se oportuno o seu enquadramento na discussão de um registo – com Eskelin no tenor, Susan Alcorn na guitarra pedal steel e Michael Formanek ao contrabaixo – que contraria a teleológica leitura que no horizonte desponta sempre que dá à costa um trio tão invulgar. Mas a sua evocação é nos dias de hoje eminentemente apropriada pois permite ilustrar uma distinta característica coetânea a esta época de progresso técnico e científico, que é a que determina o abismo entre aquilo que conhecem do mundo a maioria das pessoas e o que sobre a sua disciplina específica sabe cada um. Dito de outra forma: não só expertos num instrumento se mostram incapazes de formular uma análise musical como se receia que a crítica de jazz se prove inábil em louvar o que com o género mantém uma relação vestigial embora não menos transformativa. “Mirage”, uma fissura para o seu âmago, é essa obra-prima.

Audiophile Audition review by Doug Simpson

CF 276Harris Eisenstadt and September Trio – The Destructive Element (CF 276)
 ****
Portugal’s 12-year-old, avant-leaning Clean Feed label has an eclectic release roster which ranges from historical (a 1972 live Steve Lacy CD) to anthologies (the ongoing I Never Meta Guitar series organized by Elliott Sharp), and a lot of free jazz/avant-garde material. One versatile performer who has taken advantage of Clean Feed’s distribution and promotion is drummer Harris Eisenstadt, and his September Trio, with pianist Angelica Sanchez and tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin. Eisenstadt has a multidisciplinary approach which comprises jazz, creative improvisation, African music ensembles and additional musical areas. He earned a B.A. cum laude in literature and music in 1988 from Maine’s Colby College, received a Masters in Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts in 2001, and has played with an assortment of artists, including Yusef Lateef, Vinny Golia, Bennie Maupin, Wayne Horvitz, Nels Cline and others. He has worked in the theatre world and composed for indie and mainstream movies. Sanchez is an equally free-form player, who has collaborated with Wadada Leo Smith, teamed with her husband Tony Malaby, and has a string of solo records on Clean Feed. Eskelin has long been a mainstay of the East Coast improv scene, has over 20 albums to his name, and contributed to studio outings by David Liebman, John Hollenbeck and many more.

Eisenstadt’s nine originals vary from lyrical ballads to long-form pieces colored by classical music, and compositions influenced by Japanese film and English literature. Eisenstadt initially penned the short title track for voice and piano, but Eskelin’s warm full-bodied tenor nicely translates the tune’s emotionalism into a horn-driven discourse. The cut was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim, which Eisenstadt studied in university: as Sanchez and Eskelin stream through the poignant melody, one can sense Conrad’s experiential contentions concerning the conjoining of joy and sorrow. Someone else who understood adversity, sadness and hopefulness was composer Arnold Schoenberg. During two related pieces, Eisenstadt echoes Schoenberg’s somber tones and optimistic reflections, with distinctively avant-garde sounds. The lengthy “From Schoenberg, Part One” borrows from Schoenberg’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, but in ways which may shock tradition-biased, classical music listeners. Eisenstadt’s roving percussion layers and rhythmic elements are far removed from European classical idioms, while Eskelin’s independently-inclined horn engages spontaneously with harmony and melody. Sanchez builds tension as she moves from chords to single-note stabs, and erects ebb and flow during a demanding sax/piano combination. The terser “From Schoenberg, Part Two,” which comes near the program’s conclusion, maintains a similar expression, while Eskelin develops a repeating phrase which is cornered and then altered by Sanchez, while Eisenstadt adds skittish percussion as bedrock. Conveying music as being cinematic has become a cliché, but that’s the feeling one gets from hearing “Here Are the Samurai,” a tense track prompted by a key incident in Akira Kurasawa’s enduring motion picture, Yojimbo, when Japanese sword-wielders walk into a village. The tune has rolling percussion and a portentous escalation, with reiterating and twisting sections where the sax and piano confront each other, seek the upper hand, and then unify in a heated dialogue. By the end, the clashing samurai in the village streets are vividly portrayed by the increased tempo. Further cuts might lack interesting background stories, but are also vibrant examples of Eisenstadt’s compositional forms, from the hectic “Additives” to the classically-tinged “Cascadia,” which hints at European Romanticism. The recording process is as dynamic as the music, with evocative audio which captures the trio’s sonic breadth, from hushed sax to dissonant percussion, and from whispered brushwork to jarring keyboard flourishes.
http://audaud.com/2013/06/harris-eisenstadt-and-september-trio-the-destructive-element-clean-feed/