Monthly Archives: December 2013


Improjazz review by Bob Hatteau


Muziek Van Nu review by Annette den Heijer

CF 286Kaja Draksler, piano – The lives of many others (CF 286)
Jong, gedreven en talentvol; het is een mooie combinatie, die blijft boeien. Vooral wanneer jonge mensen met een frisse blik op de wereld bestaande en nieuwe muziek uitvoeren.
Kaja Draksler is zo iemand. Deze jonge jazzpianiste en componiste uit Slovenië is een opvallende verschijning in het Amsterdamse jazz- en improvisatiecircuit. Klassiek geschoold, speelt ze Frédéric Chopin én Thelonious Monk met evenveel gemak in één programma; ze laat zich door zowel klassieke muziek als jazz inspireren voor haar composities en improvisaties.
Het talent barst door haar muzikale vezels. Soepel spel, mooie timing en een subtiel toucher vormen het ideale gereedschap voor haar vrije improvisaties, waarin ze zomaar een simpel liedje kan laten uitwaaieren tot een gelaagde compositie.

Na haar studie jazz in Ljubljana en Groningen, volgde Kaja Draksler privélessen in New York. Terug in Nederland voltooit ze momenteel haar master klassieke compositie aan het Conservatorium van Amsterdam. In 2009 sleepte ze de Deloitte Jazz Award in de wacht; ze schreef een pianoconcert voor haar band Katarchestra en bracht als leider van het Acropolis Quartet drie cd’s uit.

Een vierde cd, met eigen werk voor solo piano, werd gepresenteerd op 27 november tijdens haar debuut in het Bimhuis. Geen trio, geen kwartet, maar meteen een solo-optreden in de Nederlandse jazztempel, je moet maar durven.
En durven doet Kaja Draksler, hoewel niet zozeer in haar presentatie. Verlegen schuift ze het podium op, lacht ontwapenend en trekt wat aan haar handen. Die mogen nog even de toetsen zoeken, voordat ze hun keuze maken. Fascinerend is het verschil met klassieke musici, die alleen in boze dromen de openingsnoten zoeken. Maar dan treffen haar handen doel. Kaja transformeert.

Ze bespeelt niet alleen de toetsen, ze buigt zich over de snaren, tokkelt, raspt, wiegt en neuriet. In het openingsnummer van cd en concert ‘The lives of many others’ observeert ze naar eigen zeggen de mensen om zich heen, beeldt zich hun levens in, hoort hun dromen en hun ‘dingetjes’, en vertaalt die in ruis, belklanken en losse, herhalende tonen. Flarden melodieën uit volksliedjes worden uit elkaar gehaald en belanden in een Morton Feldman–achtig continuüm.

Ze sleept me aan mijn oren mee naar buiten, naar parken, waar kinderen zingen, naar een werkplaats, een ijzerzagerij, een fabriek, een treinstation. Haar beeldende composities worden van een passende achtergrond voorzien door de wand van glas achter het podium, waar bewegend Amsterdam het magistrale decor van het Bimhuis vormt. Een dubbeldekker vertraagt tegen snelle repetitieve patronen in naar rechts, richting station, Fyraklanken glijden naar links, Amsterdam uit, het donker in.

Ik laat me meevoeren met de trein, maar merk dat ik soms nog iets in haar muziek mis. De taal en het spel kloppen. Maar wanneer de bouwstenen van het muzikale materiaal, de uit elkaar getrokken melodieën, terechtkomen in een lui ostinato, dreigt ze haar eigen stem, haar Draksleriaanse visie op Monk en Chopin, even te verliezen.

All About Jazz review by Mark Corroto

CF 287Angelica Sanchez/ Wadada Leo Smith: Twine Forest (CF 287)
As the saying goes, “It takes two to tango.” It certainly does, and it also takes two to make beautiful music together. Pianist Angelica Sanchez and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith produce abundant beauty from Sanchez’ compositions on Twine Forest.

Smith’s recordings have ranged from large ensemble work— Silver Orchestra, Organic, and his electric-Miles Davis tribute band with Henry Kaiser Yo Miles!—to intimate duos with Louis Moholo-Moholo Ancestors (TUM, 2013), Jack DeJohnette America (Tzadik, 2009), Anthony Braxton Organic Resonance (Pi Recordings, 2003), and Ed Blackwell The Blue Mountain’s Sun Drummer (Kabell, 2010).

With Sanchez, Wadada is again exploring the trumpet innovations of Miles Davis by grabbing clumps of Davis’ lyricism from his work with Gil Evans and filtering it through the minimal approach of his late 60’s work.

It has also been said that it takes two wings to fly. Sanchez’ music here, with its block chords and percussive attack, urges Smith to soar. “Retinal Sand” opens with spitting trumpet notes and the piano’s insides exorcised into a drum kit. The trumpet responds with growling notes and eventually a piano/trumpet conversation. Sanchez displays a willful brawn here, battering a blues line on “Echolocation” that evolves into her piano mimicking the sound of a plucked bass.

Sanchez’ technique is a perfect complement to Smith’s vocalized trumpet. Whether he is playing with a muted horn, as on “Veinular Rub,” or with an open bell for “In The Falls Of…,” his articulations are simply conversational. He and Sanchez are involved in an intimate tête- à-tête. Marvin Gaye’s words sum it up the best, “One can wish upon a star/Two can make that wish come true, yeah/One can stand alone in the dark/Two can make the light shine through.”

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

CF 279Mark Dresser Quintet – Nourishments (CF 279)
I have spent several consecutive days with Nourishments. Listened to it in every possible situation. Appreciated each nuance of its palette. But remained – for a long time – at a loss for words when facing the task of writing about it. Perhaps because this is a classic case of music whose eloquent communicativeness speaks for itself, who knows. These 73 minutes have become a rewarding acoustic proximity in a peculiar phase of my life, transmitting a message where everything one needs to discover is right there. No extreme searching required.

In the liners, Dresser quotes the influence of Charlie Mingus on the work’s conception before proceeding to explicate very accurately the collations and superimpositions of themes, meters and contrapuntal constituents. The composer’s analytic explanations are just substantiating snippets of what the ears already perceive as perfectly shaped phenomena. To begin with, rarely you will find yourselves in the condition of “remembering” a melody, for the multitude of fragments and sketches is on such a level of intelligible intertwining that a coherent wholeness gets easily acquired as a “general concept” while the alert mind scrutinizes the courses of the single instruments at the same time. This sensation of operational simultaneousness is the truly sweet trait here, dynamism and reflection running collaterally yet marvelously coalescing. Personal favorites in that regard are the title track and the superbly executed “Canales Rose” and “Rasaman”.

Special mention must be made of Maroney’s hyper-piano, its metallic slippery providing various incidents with a refreshing awareness of proportionate instability, whereas Mahanthappa’s ridiculous reed chops define recurrent flights of fancy across paths of transparent logicality. All the participants deserve applause for their ability in merging humanness and clarity, idealism and mathematical discipline. And, of course, Dresser’s control of the affecting howls generated by his bowed partials is nothing short of staggering. The enlightened leader of a collective of investigators gifted with bright intuitions and sense of belonging to a project that wrestles the commonplaces of jazz in spite of an indiscussable technical prominence.


Jazzthing review by Martin Laurentius

jazzthing pascal review by Bernardo Álvares

CF 283Pascal Niggenkemper Vision 7 – Lucky Prime (CF 283)
Pascal Niggenkemper reúne neste primeiro álbum em septeto o experiente Frank Gratkowski, o cada vez mais presente Christian Lillinger e um conjunto de jovens improvisadores, ainda ilustres desconhecidos do público em geral: Emilie Lesbros, Eve Risser, Fratz Loriot e Els Vandeweyer. Provenientes de França, Alemanha e Bélgica, estes músicos sob orientação de Niggenkemper funcionam como um “Art Ensemble of Central Europe” num universo branco pós-globalização. Sem esquecerem as suas formações clássicas europeias, os Vision7 conseguem um “groove” dificilmente ouvido fora dos United States of Black America.

O contrabaixo certeiro de Niggenkemper empurra para primeiro plano a voz de Emilie Lesbros, que oscila entre uma Brigitte Fontaine do Séc. XXI e uma Neneh Cherry francesa (lembrem-se do Cherry Thing, que uniu há um ano a enteada de Don Cherry com o trio de garage-jazz The Thing). Tanto a recitar os seus textos em “spoken word” como a explorar a sua voz com vocalizações pertinentes, a vocalista consegue uma real comunhão com os restantes músicos, sendo, a par do contrabaixista, a figura de maior destaque neste álbum.

Composto por oito faixas, este disco gravado ao vivo no Vive le Jazz Festival em Colónia deve ser ouvido como um todo. À maneira de uma suite contemporânea, o álbum passa por diversas estéticas e explosões de intensidade (particularmente nas peças que contam com Lesbros), mantendo sempre um sentido de coerência e diversas explosões de intensidade. Os temas sem voz tendem a ser sentidos como interlúdios, com espaços para os outros músicos mostrarem as suas competências sem cair nos clichés solísticos dos concertos de jazz. É de destacar o trabalho interessantíssimo do violetista Fratz Loriot, figura principal na faixa “Ke belle”.

Dois bons temas para resumir o CD são “Carnet plein d’histoires”, um free funk de câmara, e “I Don’t Know Why, But This Morning…”, que vive de um equilíbrio muito ténue com um free altamente arrítmico apesar de soar sempre a um jazz mais tradicional.

Em suma, este “Lucky Prime” é um sério candidato às listas de melhores do ano, evidenciando a grande sensibilidade de composição de Niggenkemper e apresentando uma jovem Europa criativamente efervescente.

Lesdnj review by Sophie Chambon

CF 283Pascal Niggenkemper Vision 7 – Lucky Prime (CF 283)
Il y a assurément quelque chose de visionnaire dans ce nouvel album du très engagé label Clean feed qui s’aventure avec succès sur les terres de l’improvisation : un jazz qui se déclare résolument contemporain avec 7 musiciens engagés drivés par un leader volontaire. franco-suisse qui a adopté New York comme ville de résidence.

Dans un style pas nécessairement épuré, avant-gardiste, free, avec sons, (surtout pour moi dans certains passages calmes paradoxalement comme «Ke belle») où les cris et interjonctions, les montées orgasmiques annoncent l’orage du violent « Feuertreppe ». Les filles n’y vont pas de main morte d’ailleurs, à l’exemple d’Eve Risser qui malmène, martèle, brusque son piano (qui y est préparé). Il ya aussi les drôles de bruits de glotte d’Emilie Lesbros qui demande du scotch dans son coffee et brode sur un thème alcoolisé « I don’t know why but this morning »… happening où la vibraphoniste et le saxophoniste-clarinettiste tirent fort délicatement leur épingle du jeu.

C’est une session d’improvisation, avec des passages écrits mais qu’ importe aujourd’hui de discuter sur le partage entre écriture et ’improvisation. L’essentiel est ce que l’on ressent, entre silence, rage, fureur (?), lors de ces cadences post-modernes, industrialo-bruitistes, aux éclats métalliques d’ instruments devenus outils. L’archet est utilisé sur des pièces plus « calmes » en effet. Beaucoup de ruptures de rythme sur un même morceau peuvent déconcerter dans l’écoute en continu, mais on accepte les règles du jeu. Au sortir d’un moment « infernal », on entend soudain une plainte envoûtante, émouvante : on sort alors de ces images entre film d’horreur ou fantastique, on voit défiler la procession de pénitents d’un Munch, ou de carnavaliers de James Ensor. Est-ce le fait de ce casting européen, franco-belgo-allemand ? Idée qui s’exporte avec bonheur (aucune frontière pour semblable formation qui fit un passage remarqué à Jazz d’or 2011et enregistra à Vive le Jazz festivalau Loft de Cologne).

Ce n’est pas forcément sur ces chemins (fréquentés) des musiques actuelles que j’aime m’aventurer d’ordinaire mais l’écoute est stimulante et l’intérêt, sans doute décuplé, en live. L’aventure est tentante, on s’abandonne alors à ce « Lance di Lanze » qui fait découvrir par exemple l’alliage intéressant de la batterie souple et rebondissante du Berlinois Christian Lillinger avec les sons exacerbés de Frank Gratkowski. On aime aussi le bien nommé « Sortir de la colère » qui clôt délicatement cet album surprenant et chaleureux au final.

Sounds Green review by Marek Lubner

CF 283Pascal Niggenkemper Vision7 – Lucky Prime (CF 283)
A double bass player Pascal Niggenkemper composed an intriguing suite “Lucky Prime”, phenomenally performed by a true dream team of contemporary improvised music scene.

The phrase announced by Lesbros – “das Leben ist flexibel” (life is flexible) – perfectly corresponds with the hybrid polistylistic nature of the music itself. Freedom on the recording has rather aleatoric then free jazz character, closer here to the Pierre Boulez local indiscipline strategy or Luciano Berio various works also including for voices and orchestra, Stockhausen’s Klavierstucken conceptions presented in the pianist Eve Risser’s realization. Focusing on texture, arouses associations with musique concrète and contemporary chamber music. On the opposite shore of what we might encounter on Lucky Prime is a consonance and sophisticated popular music.

We might clearly distinguished here relationship between the pieces. Carnet plein d’histoires fulfilling the role of a prelude: “das ist die Geschichte” (this is the story), the middle section Feuertreppe, I do not know why, but this morning … and ending sortir de la colère. Main cells are linked with interludes, polymeter ​​marimba’s dia de los muertos (Els Vandeweyer), en urgence on the piano (Eve Risser) and lances die Lanze on drums (Christian Lillinger).

Music and libretto perfectly captures the pressing atmosphere of a modern life, full of transitory intentions, accumulation of impulses inclinations that can easily distort our orientation. Sharing and merging colors, languages ​​( French, German, English), polyvalent sound structures, rotary melodic lines, creates mood that is departed from the static recognition of reality, in favor of a more relativistic. Significant to the analysis of what we hear, are factors like duration, intensity, selectivity, compatibility, sound proportions spectrum. Apart from the arrangements the musical form on Lucky Prime reigns energy, thematic, textural thinking, striving for chamber coherence and building diverse multicolored course. Mileage of the compositions analogously to human insubordinate life is filled with amplitudes of emotions, spread between pianissimo to a larger volume of sound consonance or densely scattered dissonant loss of tonality and finally atonal efflorescence.

Vocalizations here are stretched in a broad intervallic twists and turns, full of dynamic and agogic contrasts, expressive modulations, naturally aroused from the narrative course in which functional dependencies are completely suspended. Lesbros finds no difficulty in this formula, her baroque syntactic and lexical abilities reminding Catherine Berberian’s mastery and subtle humor I do not know why, but this morning … In sortir de la colère emphasized by violin, double bass and Frank Gratkowski’s clarinet tonal and key accompaniment, she’s chanting: “That’s my dream, sortir de la colère”. By using pauses there is a space brought for her singing, which gradually turns into a pathetic, expressive perspicuity opera line. Emilie Lesbros’ entertaining coloratura figurations add distance to the music, neutralizing in a way the pathos of the moment, that is closer to fragility of the usual life and human decisions. The band supports her singing with a romantic, widely drop-down melody, massive texture that brings consolation and sedation.

What is important and intriguing at the same time, is that how ideal the values ​​of individual instrumentalists are presented here as well as in the solo or arranged parts: bringing the collective improvisation, usage of contrasts as a formative element, such as comparing delicate song texture with extended technique extrapolations by the violinist Frantz Loriot ke belle or as a lance die Lanze extraverted drum solo with the arranged sections. The role which Lillinger plays in that group need to be highlighted regarding his great ease and control, blurs or enhances energy of the whole band – always otherworldly precise, minimalistic or exploding lush in an interaction, that gives a remarkably modern flow to the whole album.

This music is definitely for those who love when a lots of things going on and for those who want to relax when being attacked by the accumulation of incentives dare to shout “enough!”. A perfect balance found by Pascal Niggenkemper and his band, therefore don’t get mad anymore sortir de la colère. Just listen and experience!

Le Son du Grisli review by Guillaume Belhomme

CF 288Elliott Sharp Aggregat – Quintet (CF 288)
De l’Aggregat d’Elliott Sharp, voici le Quintet – et non pas : voici l’Aggregat Quintet d’Elliott Sharp. Projet pensé par le guitariste (ici aux saxophones et clarinette basse) pour regrouper en une « unité sonique » des personnalités différentes, Aggregat fut d’abord un trio (responsable d’un… Aggregat assez peu convaincant publié l’année dernière sur Clean Feed). Aujourd’hui quintet, le titre de la nouvelle référence du projet était tout trouvé.

Ce sont Nate Wooley (trompette) et Terry L. Green (trombone) qui ont, de leurs pratiques iconoclastes, transformé Aggregat : ainsi l’introduction (Magnetar) entend-elle Sharp réussir à composer au son d’influences éclatées – n’y entend-on pas, tout à la fois, Terry Riley, Jay Jay Johnson et Sonny Rollins ? – mais empêchées aussi : récalcitrant, le discours épousera finalement l’allure d’un jazz tortueux que pertes totales de repères et encombrements subits ne cessent de faire gonfler.

Sur l’accompagnement solide (mais aussi plus discret que de coutume) de Brad Jones et Ches Smith, les souffleurs rivalisent alors d’intentions tranchées (Qubits, Historical Friction) quand ils ne font pas cause commune sur la méthode à employer (Dissolution) ou l’hommage à rendre (Blues for Butch, Laugh Out Loud (For Lol Coxhill)). Ayant effacé les traces laissées derrière lui d’un jazz vivace (au son des décharges lentes de Lacus Temporis et des surprenants atermoiements de Chrenkov Light), Aggregat disparaîtra. Il reviendra sans doute, sous une autre forme peut-être.


Jazz News review by Bruno Pfeiffer