Monthly Archives: November 2013

Free Jazz review by Paul Acquaro

CF 275Lama + Chris Speed – Lamaçal (CF 275)
****
A little while back I reviewed Lama’s Oneiros. It was a fantastic album, often subtle and nuanced, but it also had its more aggressive moments. Revisiting my last review, every word still fits this live recording featuring guest woodwind player Chris Speed:

The pieces fit together so tightly that there’s hardly room for a wasted note, beat or breath as the musicians move gracefully through the set of songs, nimbly riding the contours between structure and freedom.

Lama is Susana Santos Silva on trumpet and flugelhorn, Greg Smith on drums and electronics, and Gonçalo Almeida on doublebass, effects and loops. Joining them on this recording is woodwind master Chris Speed on sax and clarinet. Recorded during the 2012 Portalegre Jazz Festival, this electro-acoustic ensemble sprinkles in the electronics perfectly and with Speed’s thoughtful playing, Lamacal is another treat.

Kicking off with the slow building ‘Overture for a Wandering Fish’, the tentative lowercase introduction gives way to increasingly louder fluttering and sputtering as the tension mounts between the horns and rhythm section, becoming quite driving. But, restraint is also a motif throughout. The next track, ‘Lamacal’, also begins quietly with Almeida’s solo bass. Then, Speed joins in with fractured melodic snippets, which Santos then returns and plays off of, making for a fiesty interchange. The track ‘Moby Dick’ is also a real pleasure to follow. The solid but minimalist bass line moves along with fills and textures until the elliptical unison melody comes ultimately to a slow boil.
http://www.freejazzblog.org/

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

CF 281Susana Santos Silva & Torbjorn Zetterberg – Almost Tomorrow (CF 281)
****
The trumpet-bass duo is a format I like, as I have said before, the brass and the wood, the high and the low tones, both instruments able to resonate well in closed spaces, not requiring much volume, the intimacy of conversation without disruption … Paul Smoker and Dominic Duval, Jean-Luc Cappozzo and Joëlle Léandre, Itaru Oki and Benjamin Duboc, John Corbett and Nick Stephens.

And now we get Portuguese Susana Santos Silva, the trumpeter of Lama, and Swedish bassist Torbjörn Zetterberg, reviewed before on this blog with various Swedish bands, who met at a jazz festival in Portugal, then recorded this fully improvised session somewhere in the north of Sweden, in winter, with snow and cold outside, and the warmth of the music and the intimacy of closed space to come up with this riveting and moving dialogue.

Both musicians manage to find the perfect balance between strong musical character, pushing the envelope of sonic phrasing, with short bursts and extended techniques, yet alternating with more welcoming lyricism of the more traditional kind.

To give some examples : the beautiful “Notskalmusik” with long and yearning phrases, is followed by “Head Distortion Machine”, a very fit title for the abrasive arco and the growling trumpet, full of misery and unwilling submission.

The most beautiful pieces are “Columbus Arrival At Hajerdalen”, a long and deeply emotional improvisation emerging from Zetterberg’s arco, with Santos Silva playing some absolutely heartrending and moving phrases, capturing the mood and intro perfectly, and the title track, “Almost Tomorrow”, which has some references to Coleman’s “Lonely Woman”.

Other tracks are more experimental, like the short “Action Jan-Olov”, in which Santos Silva adds a dialogue on her own between muted and unmuted, with shifting embouchure, over stagnant staccato pizzis from Zetterberg, or “Flocos De Mel”, a longer more minimalist improvisation with sparse sounds creating an ominous and menacing atmosphere.

Highly recommended for fans of intimate avant-jazz dialogues.
http://www.freejazzblog.org/

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

CF 287Angelica Sanchez, Wadada Leo Smith: Twine Forest (CF 287)
La pianista Angelica Sanchez ha colaborado durante los últimos años en distintos proyectos y grabaciones del trompetista Wadada Leo Smith: The Golden Quartet y Organic (Heart’s Reflection, Cuneiform, 2011). En 2013, finalmente, Clean Feed publica Twine Forest, primera grabación mano a mano de ambos músicos.

Angelica Sanchez es la autora de los ocho temas. Unas composiciones que son desarrolladas de un modo muy abierto, en las que ambos músicos llevan a cabo un diálogo de igual a igual.

A lo largo de la grabación en un momento son las líneas, cortas, del trompetista, las que son apoyadas en la distancia (espacio y tiempo mediante) por la pianista. En otro momento es el pianista quien sigue el juego a su compañera. En otras ocasiones ambos se enzarzan en un diálogo directo y sin cortapisas, en consistente un toma y daca musical.

Wadada Leo Smith en esta ocasión ni recurre al espíritu sonoro de Miles Davis, ni a la inspiración milesiana que inunda algunos de sus proyectos como Yo Miles! (que por otro lado es toda una declaración de principios ya desde su propio nombre). En esta ocasión se deja llevar por su sonido, transitando sin premura ni precipitación por unos temas que recogen distintos estados de ánimo.

Angelica Sanchez responde perfectamente a las exigencias de su compañero. Al contrario que él, sí que llega a utilizar técnicas extendidas con su instrumento, el piano, con las que logra unos pasajes especialmente intensos y crispados.

A sus casi 72 años (que cumplirá el próximo 18 de diciembre de 2013), Wadada Leo Smith sigue en plena forma en una reluciente segunda juventud. Obras como Twine Forest o como la monumental Ten Freedom Summers (finalista de los Premios Pulitzer en 2013 en la categoría de música), no son un espejismo sino el magnífico reflejo de la manera de entender el jazz y la improvisación por parte de este veterano.
http://www.tomajazz.com/web/?p=9440

Jazzenzo review by Jan Jasper Tamboer

CF 286Kaja Draksler – The Lives Of Many Others (CF 286)
Globalisering mag dan voor menige activist een vloek zijn, in veel opzichten kan zij ook een verrijking betekenen. Hoeveel uitwisseling van talent vindt er niet plaats. De Sloveense pianiste Kaja Draksler streek neer in Nederland voor studies in de muziek en maakt inmiddels deel uit van de Amsterdamse scene. Wat een aanwinst is zij voor ons land.

Draksler zit met haar soloalbum ‘The Lives Of Many Others’ in de hoek van de impro en avant-garde, maar haar plaat bevat ook elementen uit de klassieke muziek. Voor haar thesis over het werk van Cecil Taylor werd ze dit jaar gelauwerd en eerder won ze al de Deloitte Jazz Award. Zij studeerde muziek in Slovenië, deed in Groningen haar bachelors als jazzpianist en voltooit momenteel een masters klassieke compositie in Amsterdam. Ze speelt in verschillende projecten, onder meer in een duo met Onno Govaert.

Sommige pianisten wachten hun halve carrière met het zich wagen aan solowerk. Iemand als Bugge Wesseltoft kwam pas op latere leeftijd met zijn eerste soloalbum, want hij dacht daarvoor aanvankelijk persoonlijkheid te missen. Draksler heeft geen last van enige schroom, zij is vijfentwintig jaar en wat een persoonlijkheid straalt zij uit. Zij schaart zich op de bühne van het Bimhuis in de rij groten als Brad Mehldau, Michiel Borstlap en Jacky Terrasson, die in deze tijden in hun eentje de Nederlandse podia beklimmen.

Van volledige notenkeus kan bij Draksler geen sprake zijn. Daarmee zou je een weloverwogen rationaliteit veronderstellen die een te eenzijdige invalshoek vormt voor de creaties van de pianiste. Om elke voorspelbaarheid uit te sluiten, schudt zij de noten door elkaar en lijkt die een willekeurige plek te geven. Het resultaat is echter geen chaos, maar een goddelijke ordening, die niemand kon bedenken en alleen door ingrijpen van Draksler kon ontstaan. Was zij in Slovenië blijven zitten, dan zou haar album er heel anders uit hebben gezien.
http://www.jazzenzo.nl/?e=2603

Le Son du Grisli review by Luc Bouquet

CF 283Pascal Niggenkemper Vision 7 – Lucky Prime (CF 283)
S’il n’est pas des sept basses à paraître, Pascal Niggenkemper n’en est pas moins contrebassiste. Capable, même, d’emmener septette…

Les idées ne fusent pas au hasard chez Pascal Niggenkemper. Avec sa petite bande (Frank Gratkowski, Emilie Lesbros, Eve Risser, Frantz Loriot, Els Vandeweyer, Christian Lillinger), le contrebassiste enflamme quelques hautes contrées. La plus évidente de ces zones passe par l’entremêlement des timbres (concentration et délestement en duo, charge unie en septet).

D’autres territoires seront fréquentés qui passeront par la désintégration des masses et de bruts découpages. Il y aura crispation et respiration, composition et décomposition, surchauffe et attente. Le jazz sera restitué en un axe bancal et souffreteux avant qu’un vibraphone gouailleur ne vienne lui rappeler sa force vitale. Et du fil de tendresse final (sortir de la colère) jailliront des pépites aux soleils audacieux. Pas mal pour un premier enregistrement.
http://grisli.canalblog.com/

Percorsi Musicali review by Ettore Garzia

CF 281Susana Santos Silva/Torbjorn Zetterberg – Almost Tomorrow (CF 281)
A mia memoria nel jazz i dialoghi tra tromba e contrabbasso sono piuttosto rarefatti. Negli ultimi anni ricordo con piacere un episodio discografico tra Joelle Leandre e Jean Luc Cappozzo. Oggi ve ne segnalo un’altro, che mi ha affascinato molto: si tratta della trombettista portoghese Susana Santos Silva e del contrabbassista svedese Torbjorn Zetterberg. La loro collaborazione è in qualche modo un punto di sviluppo del loro lavoro che quindi necessita di qualche notizia pregressa sui due musicisti.

Sulla scia della rivalutazione d’interesse del jazz portoghese* si colloca l’esordio di Susana Santos Silva, una giovane musicista fuoriuscita dall’esperienza di una big band portoghese (OJM), che in quintetto nel 2011 pubblica “Devil’s dress”: un disco apparentemente kitsch dalla copertina che invece la presentava seriamente alla comunità dell’improvvisazione con tutte le credenziali tecniche a posto. In quel cd, nonostante venga ricalcata la cifra stilistica di gran parte del mainstream jazz odierno, salta evidente la padronanza dello strumento e la creatività della musicista. Dopo quell’episodio, Susana, intelligentemente comincia però ad allargare il raggio d’azione, collaborando sempre con suoi connazionali nei progetti dei Lama (un trio recentemente apertosi all’inserimento estemporaneo del sassofonista/clarinettista Chris Speed) e dei SSS-Q, un duo con il batterista Jorge Queijo: il free jazz autentico si fa prepotentemente strada e soprattutto si apre alla bellezza dei suoni in risonanza acustica.

Torbjorn Zetterberg, dal canto suo, non ha bisogno di grandi presentazioni: in queste pagine è stato più volte citato come uno dei migliori contrabbassisti della scena svedese soprattutto in relazione alla capacità di esplorazione interattiva dello strumento (vedi per tutte il gran lavoro di supporto svolto nel trio di “Soulstorm” con Ivo Perelman).

Il nuovo lavoro dei due musicisti, “Almost Tomorrow”, è quasi una rivelazione se rapportato a quello che è stato fatto dai due fino ad oggi. Ottimamente registrato, proietta i due musicisti nella sperimentazione empatica allo scopo di regalare la vera voce dei due strumenti utilizzati: evitando senza problemi il cerebralismo che potrebbe essere insito in questo tipo di operazioni, i due forniscono una prova di maturità maiuscola con la Santos Silva che impone un proprio stile, che ha solo un riferimento di partenza in Wadada Leo Smith, ma che poi viene totalmente bilanciato dall’esplorazione ricorrente ed ipnotica che deriva dall’utilizzo della tecnica estensiva (vedi le combinazioni che simulano macchine di Feet Machine Song e Head distortion machine).

Quello della Santos Silva è uno stile composito, che lavora sulla variabilità delle tonalità di emissione della tromba in modo da ricavare discorsività, stranezza e liricità al tempo stesso: una tromba cangiante, quasi parlante (senti Action Jan-Olov) e gradevolissima che si staglia nell’universo stantio di Zetterberg che da parte sua tiene il contrabbasso in una costante e vitale posizione di risposta al dialogo grazie all’uso a strappo delle corde (Knight of Storvalen). Qui il suo contrabbasso riesce a caratterizzare (ancora meglio rispetto a Queijo) le simbiosi dinamiche esistenti in un duo.

“Almost tomorrow”, programmatico sin dal titolo, è quindi operazione varia in cui i suoni di tromba e contrabbasso rivendicano la loro proprietà, la loro genuinità, dove si deve sottolineare la diversità delle impostazioni percorse dai due musicisti rispetto agli improvvisatori americani nello stesso strumento (Santos Silva suona sicuramente diversa dalle evoluzioni estese di Wooley o Evans, così come Zetterberg è lontano da quelle di Dresser, Bisio o Morris). Qui navighiamo in concetti improvvisativi che sono molto vicini allo status di arte (le sensazioni di Colombus Arrival in Harjedalen).
http://ettoregarzia.blogspot.it/2013/11/susana-santos-silva-torbjorn-zetterberg.html

Downbeat review by Peter Margasak

Few trumpeters find and develop disparate contexts and projects as assiduously as Nate Wooley, a fiercely original and curious horn player who straddles the divide between jazz and abstract improvisation as if it was a mere crack in the sidewalk. These two new recordings capture him in wildly different settings, for which he masterfully calibrates his sound and approach to suit the needs of each, yet  his personality shines through on both.

CF 282Nate Wooley/Peter Evans/Jim Black/Paul Lytton – Trumpets and Drums: Live in Ljubljana (CF 282)
****
Live in Ljubljana is a fully improvised quartet set that puts him in the company of two of his most trusted duo partners: fellow trumpeter Peter Evans and drummer Paul Lytton. Drummer Jim Black, a regular member of the quintet led by Evans, rounds out the Trumpets and Drums quartet. For the majority of the album’s two lengthy pieces, wryly titled “Beginning” and “End,” the horn players dig into their huge bags of extended technique, blowing sibilant growls, unpitched breaths, machine-like sputters, brittle whinnies, and more. But rather that come off as a predictable catalog of sounds, the pair reveal a stunning connection, playing off one another with rare empathy and ensemble-oriented focus. But the bond between Wooley and Evans is hardly the only connection at work here. Lytton and Black contribute a veritable thicket of frictive clatter and percolating chaos, but never at the sake of forward propulsion.

CF 280Nate Wooley Sextet – (Sit In) the Throne of Friendship (CF 280)
****
(Sit In) the Throne of Friendship was recorded with a dazzling, resourceful sextet. The disc not only shows off Wooley’s deep jazz roots on demonstrates his startling growth as a composer and arranger. The album opens with a sparkling adaptation of Randy Newman’s “Old Man on the Farm,” setting the tone with some bracing multi-linear improvisation between himself, reedist Josh Sinton, and tuba player Dan Peck. Wooley deftly scurries between clarion-toned lines that suggest the influence of Dave Douglas, especially the half-valved fluidity, and the scuffed, striated sounds generated with extended technique, fitting both aesthetics into the flow of his compositions. Wooley’s multipartite tunes make exceptional use of his scrappy ensemble, giving them a deceptive orchestral quality. While there’s little about this session that sounds like Birth of the Cool, the agility of Peck reminds me of Bill Barber’s smooth, dominant presence on that Miles Davis classic, while the sometimes shimmering, sometimes dissonant vibraphone lines of Matt Moran adds an additional layer of cool to the proceedings.

Wooley’s tunes are packed with attractive melodies that wind and wend though ever-shifting timbres thanks to inventive, rich arrangements that keep the sonic landscape in constant motion. There are plenty of solos here, but there’s no blowing over cycling forms. Wooley’s technical imagination and mastery of jazz fundamentals has been established already, but this new sextet effort definitely adds notches to his belt.