Daily Archives: October 7, 2013

The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

CF 282Joe Morris/Agustí Fernández/Nate Wooley – From the Discrete to the Particular (Relative Pitch)
Nate Wooley/Peter Evans/Jim Black/Paul Lytton – Trumpets and Drums (Live in Ljubljana) (CF 282)
Nate Wooley Sextet – (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship (CF 280)
CF 280Nate Wooley is among a group of distinguished younger trumpeters redefining the sonic possibilities of the instrument. More than that though, he combines both rare invention and rare taste across a stylistic range that stretches from free improvisation to his own version of postbop.

The trio of Wooley, guitarist Joe Morris and pianist Agustí Fernández that appears on From the Discrete to the Particular has its antecedents in Morris’ prior duos with Wooley and Fernández. It’s free improvisation of the first rank, with each of the seven pieces a developed musical dialogue defining its own timbres and shape, whether it’s the pointillist sputters of the opening “Automatos”, the flurries of discrete sounds that firstmark “As Expected” or the oblique harmonic language of “Bilocation” that flowers into an evanescent lyricism created by all three musicians. “Membrane” suggests an early John Cage prepared piano sonata extended to a collective. The longest pieces, “Hieratic” and “Chumsof Chance”, are works of transformation, whether Morris sounding like the interior of a piano on the former and a bowed cello on the latter; Fernández mounting a virtuosic keyboard assault or creating a resonant soundscape or Wooley drawing out pained multiphonics or assembling wild scratching sounds.

Trumpets and Drums (Live in Ljubljana) is a dialogue between the two fundamental sonic components of the title. If there’s a martial tradition to trumpet and drum music there’s also a mystical one, as with Joshua and the battle of Jericho, but stronger still in the Tibetan Buddhist ritual music that combines long bass trumpets with metal and skin percussion. The quartet is built on several developed affinities: Wooley has long-running duos with both fellow trumpeter Peter Evans and drummer Paul Lytton; Evans has played with Lytton as a guest with the Parker-Guy-Lytton trio and Jim Black has played drums in Evans’ quartet. The performance is divided into two long segments, entitled “Beginning” and “End” and within those parameters there are moments of near silence, whispered trumpet tones and air through horns, gentle percussive rattlings, eerie scrapes and rustlings that demand rapt attention. Quavering electronics might arise from Wooley’s amplifier or from Black’s expanded kit. Elsewhere the reare moments of incendiary power, elemental music focused on mysteries of intensity and pitch.

The Nate Wooley Sextet is a variation on the Quintet that recorded 2010’s (Put Your) Hands Together. A forum for Wooley’s compositions, (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship retains bass clarinetist/baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton, vibraphonist Matt Moran and drummer Harris Eisenstadt while bassist Eivind Opsvik either alternates with newly arrived tuba player Dan Peck or they appear together. The style suggests the Blue Note ‘free’ school and the simultaneous presence of vibraphone and bass clarinet emphasizes the Eric Dolphy influence (“Make Your Friend Feel Loved” seems to reference Dolphy’s “G.W.”). This is exploratory, varied music, alive with passion and dialogue. It’s also exuberant, whether Sinton shouting through his baritone or Peck crafting an unaccompanied introduction. While Wooley is as ‘athome’ with free improvisation as any musician, the forms here emphasize the expressiveness of his lines: on the mournful “My Story, My Story” he combines variations of pitch and inflection to achieve an emotional depth equal to that of Miles Davis or Don Cherry, rare terrain for any trumpeter.

Squid’s Ear review by Florence Wetzel

CF 281Susan Santos Silva / Torbjorn Zetterberg – Almost Tomorrow (CF 281)
Almost Tomorrow is a tremendous piece of music, a powerful burst of free playing that also incorporates classic jazz styles. Portuguese trumpeter and flugelhornist Susan Santos Silva and Swedish bassist Torbjörn Zetterberg make a formidable duo: they each have a remarkable command of their instrument, which allows them to explore a stunning range of sound. Silva and Zetterberg recorded these ten songs in the last days of 2012 in the deep dark of Swedish winter at Zetterberg’s family cabin in Härjedalen, a sparsely populated region full of misty mountain ranges. The resulting music is a forceful blend that’s impressive and shocking and absolutely enchanting.

Most of the tunes are avant-free concoctions that are a joy to behold. “Knights of Storvälen” resembles a windy landscape, showcasing the duo’s ability to craft a fully realized atmosphere. The sounds are the subtlest of the subtle, warped and familiar at the same time, creating a thoroughly enjoyable tension. Silva is really a marvel; she gets such a startling array of sounds on her instrument, from small splutterings to large swaths of tone, from creamy smooth peaks to imposing jagged ridges. Zetterberg plays with a vibrant urgency, sure and strong as he builds an architecture of intensity and dynamics. “Columbus Arrival in Härjedalen” is a long, wild piece, kind of an inverted “Taps.” Silva displays an exquisitely pure tone, but she also gets immense pleasure from shredding — nay, flaying — musical notes. Zetterberg digs deep into the strings, coaxing and cajoling them to stretch beyond the beyond. “Cow Safari” has a free-jazz jam energy, with Zetterberg’s bass providing a driving engine that Silva dances atop, leaping and alighting and plunging once more. Silva plays with a great majesty when she so desires, tapping into the regal quality of her instrument: here she offers more long, sustained notes, with lovely lines that are full of unexpected twists.

In the midst of the joyful experimentation, there are a few surprising visits from jazz history. “Almost Tomorrow” is more melodic piece: Zetterberg starts off with a pretty solo, and when Silva enters, grainy and gritty, she channels her inner Louis Armstrong and brings Satchmo right up to date. It’s a beautifully poignant tune, yearning and a touch regretful. “Action Jan-Olov” is an energetic song, full of Zetterberg’s rich plucking pounding, which creates a fantastic rhythm for Silva to bounce off. Here Silva’s muted excursions invoke Miles Davis, particularly his vastly underrated later work, where a few finely sculpted notes could speak volumes. “Nötskalsmusik #6” is a brief meditation infused with the cool Nordic melancholy of seminal musician Lars Gullin, as well as the direct-heart playing of great Swedish trumpeters like Jan Allan. It’s a gorgeous piece, with sustained notes of heartrending beauty. Honestly, is there anything Silva and Zetterberg can’t do?

There’s definitely something special going on in Almost Tomorrow. It’s one of those CDs that give the listener a feeling of discovery, a sense of being on the ground floor of something fresh and intriguing. Silva and Zetterberg have both been playing out for years, but they are still relatively young, and thus this is just the beginning of something well worth following.

All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

CF 282Nate Wooley/Peter Evans/Jim Black/Paul Lytton – Trumpet and Drums: Live in Ljubljana (CF 282)
Given the unorthodox instrumentation, there’s a little more than meets the eyes and ears on this quartet effort recorded at a jazz festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Each musician is highly respected within the progressive and avant jazz communities. Yet the band doesn’t bridge the playing field with tireless bashing and cacophonous exchanges, which are components that may seem inherent under the assumption that the unorthodox group format may be conducive to a free-form crash and burn contest. On the contrary, they engage in a wide-open platform, tinted with subtle electronics, harrowing soundscapes, nimble contrasts, playful interludes and gushing apexes all immersed within an improvisational schema.

Trumpeters Nate Wooley and Peter Evans extract about every conceivable sound from their horns via breathy or raspy intonations and other nuances that are at times, difficult to separate from drummer Jim Black’s faint electronics treatments. Containing two extended pieces, Black and drummer Paul Lytton  use space as an added voice, but also support the hornists with smack, dab, and hustling asymmetrical grooves that sort of defies time and space.

On the first track “Beginning,” the band imparts dense mosaics, manifested by the trumpeters’ brawny extended notes, summoning a bizarre soundscape amid sublime patterns and offsetting statements. Here, the drummers provide additional color and shadings with periodic breaks between activities. Black’s concise use of electronics fuse mystical or haunting undertones into the big picture, although the quartet eventually builds up steam and rises to a zenith with lofty crescendos.

Undulating currents prevail as they toggle between first and tenth gears. But “End” offers more delectable twists and turns, where atmospherics and rich textures interconnect the artists’ variable momentum. The drummers help shape the proceedings, embedded with the band’s give and take exchanges and spooky backdrops. Moreover, the hornists intertwine some soul-drenched choruses into their expressive phrasings and drawling notes. So, if you’re in need of something out of the ordinary when considering the avant-garde jazz spectrum, this vastly inventive and cunning program may fulfill that requirement or perhaps exceed all preconceived expectations.

Dig Jazz review by Peter Bornemar

CF 269Trespass Trio + Joe McPhee Human Encore (CF 269)
Förutom att grupperna Exploding Customer, Angles och Trespass Trio alla tre utan svårighet kan räknas in under benämningen frijazz/improvisationsmusik har de saxofonisten Martin Küchen som gemensam nämnare. På ett förträffligt sätt har Küchen också sett till att utnyttja dessa arenor för en musik som utvecklats i en alltmer intressant riktning.

Detta gäller inte minst när han sammanstrålar med den formidable och ständigt oförutsägbare trumslagaren Raymond Strid och den kolossalt mångsidige basisten Per Zanussi i Trespass Trio, i mina öron den minst hårdföra och brutala av de tre konstellationerna.

Förra året kom Trespass trio med det suveräna albumet Bruder Beda (för övrigt ett av förra årets fem bästa jazzskivor enligt mig) och nu återkommer de, förstärkta av veteranen Joe McPhee på tenorsax och pocket trumpet, med en liveinspelning från Salao Brazil i den portugisiska staden Coimbra förra sommaren.

Musiken är förhållandevis lågmäld, men är ändå bärare av starka uttryck för såväl vemod och sorg som vrede och rent av glädje. Det finns också en spirituell anda (eller kanske till och med kalla det andlighet) i musiken som skickar en erinran till det rotsystem som hittar namn som Albert Ayler och Coltrane någonstans närmare stammen.

Av de åtta kompositionerna återfinns den episka Bruder Beda ist nicht mehr och den svängiga A Different Koko även på Bruder Beda, och i likhet med albumet får en komposition – här den klagande A Desert on Fire, a Forest – utgöra både inledning och avslutning.

Starkast intryck ger dock en av rakaste och vackraste kompositionerna på albumet, In our Midst, som Martin Küchen och de övriga fyller med så mycket själ att tonerna nästan gråter.