Monthly Archives: February 2014

JazzWrap review by Stephan Moore

CF 286Kaja Draksler – The Lives Of Many Others (CF 286)
Hauntingly beautiful. That’s the best way to describe The Lives Of Many Others from Kaja Draksler. This solo piano session brilliantly showcases Draskler’s avant garde spirit which was already apparently on previous releases. But here we get a more intimate yet dynamic perspective.

Over the first three pieces we experience a diversity of free form and expansive classical structures that are fun, exciting and challenging. This is highlighted in “Communication Entropy/Andromeda.” where Draksler moves within different motifs and crafts a wonderful storyline for the listener.

The extended piece “Suite: Wronger:Eerier:Stronger Than (Just A Thought):I Recall,” is improvisation with perfected and well balanced lines. Quiet movements draped in watersheds of rolling notes moving in one singular pattern leaving you gasping at her accuracy on the keys.

While “Delicious Irony” and “Army Of Drops” are reminiscent of Vijay Iyer or Jason Moran as contemporary comparisons–Draskler’s intensity allows you to get lost in the melodic atmosphere more than the aforementioned musicians but with a little more irreverence and subtle humour.

Kaja Draksler is already a growing name within the European community but with The Lives Of Many Others you can see how this rich and expressive voice should have big impact everywhere else very soon.

All About Jazz Italy review by Vincenzo Roggero

CF 280Nate Wooley Sextet – (Sit In) The Throne Of Friendship (CF 280)
Si respira aria di festa in (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship ultima fatica discografica del trombettista e compositore Nate Wooley. Si avverte quella sensazione un po’ démodé che solo il circo o il luna park sono in grado di offrire, tra momenti di eccitazione per le novità o per le mirabolanti avventure promesse, rassicuranti sensazioni dalle cose che non cambiano, profumi invitanti che sanno d’altri tempi.

La strumentazione è insolita con quattro strumenti dai registri gravi— clarinetto basso, sax baritono, tuba e contrabbasso—a fungere da liquido di contrasto per gli interventi lucenti del vibrafono e per le multiformi sembianze assunte dalla tromba del leader. L’ampio uso di tecniche estese passa inosservato rispetto alla miriade di sfumature che Wooley dissemina con sapienza e noncuranza, ai continui cambi di atmosfera, alle sorprese dispensate da una stanza degli specchi sonora deformante e bizzarra.

Tutto scivola via con naturalezza, come se una mano invisibile tirasse i fili dei singoli strumenti seguendo il ritmo della natura, assecondando irregolarità di percorso e cambi di umore. Wooley oltre che trombettista innovativo si rivela compositore non convenzionale e leader dalla forte personalità in grado di dar risalto alle peculiarità dei singoli in funzione di una chiara progettualità.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

CF 283Pascal Niggenkemper Vision 7: Lucky Prime (CF 283)
La tentación de hablar de Lucky Prime como una de las maneras de hacer evolucionar el jazz en la actualidad puede ser grande, si bien es cierto que la alternancia de composición e improvisación son unos elementos que están presentes a lo largo de la historia de esta música, prácticamente insertados en su genoma. Lo que distingue al estreno del grupo Vision 7 del contrabajista y compositor Pascal Niggenkemper de otros proyecto son los mimbres con los que teje este proyecto. En primer lugar los de los músicos, con una formación inusual de un septeto con saxo/clarinete, piano/piano preparado, voz, viola, contrabajo, batería y vibráfono/marimba. En segundo lugar con las influencias que maneja este grupo tanto en las composiciones, como en su ausencia. Los temas de Lucky Seven forman una almazuela integrada por elementos dispares, tanto compuestos como improvisados. La música está entroncada con la improvisación libre, y también con la tradición del jazz, incluyendo momentos con un swing contagioso o que se convierten en un delicioso tótum revolútum. Tampoco deja de mirar a la música de cámara, e incluso a una cierta manera de entender la música ambiental. Esta disparidad de infuencias provoca la variedad de carácter de la propuesta, que puede ser abstracta o concreta; abierta en su desarrollo o ceñida a la partitura; crispada o tranquila.

El gran logro de Vision 7 es la capacidad de trabajar con todo este material dándole una uniformidad de principio a fin. Algo que por otra parte era uno de los objetivos de su autor, ya que esta obra está concebida como una suite. Todos los músicos, es obvio, tienen un papel imprescindible en su desarrollo, aunque quien quizás destaca de entre el resto es la cantante y letrista Emilie Lesbros, gracias a la versatilidad que muestra en sus intervenciones.

© Pachi Tapiz

The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

CF 283Pascal Niggenkemper’s Vision7 – Lucky Prime (CF 283)
Pascal Niggenkemper, a French-German bassist active in both the Cologne and New York scenes, has worked extensively in small improvisatory groups with Thomas Heberer and Joachim Badenhorst, as well as his remarkable piano trio with Simon Nabatov and Gerald Cleaver. Lucky Prime marks a departure for him: an extended suite for a midsize ensemble, emphasizing composition and the particularly complex structures sheer numbers make possible, overlaying composed and improvised elements in ways that are sometimes uncanny.

There’s a particular complexity achieved here that’s unusual, from the initial “Carnet plein d’histoires”, in which the seven musicians appear to be
pursuing different musical paths, sometimes at breakneck speed, but somehow tightly synchronized. It’s a remarkable effect, at once composed and improvised, and with its weird harmonic associations and rhythmic layering can suggest music by Charles Mingus, Cecil Taylor and early Jimmy Giuffre (there’s
a structuralist cool at the core) all at once, the effect further multiplied by the text of singer Emilie Lesbros.

There’s a particular complexity of mood, a developed ambivalence, which takes another form in the suite’s concluding “Sortir de la Colère”, with Lesbros (in another language) repeatedly spitting out “That’s my dream…” as the underlying music constantly contrasts new and more lyric textures.

Along the way, there’s the odd rhythmic insistence of “I don’t know why, but this morning”, held together by drummer Christian Lillinger; the abstract duet of pianist Eve Risser and vibraphonist Els Vandeweyer on “En urgence” and numerous moments highlighted by Frantz Loriot’s spiky viola work and Frank

Gratkowski’s coruscating alto saxophone and somber bass clarinet. While the compositions and the group are constructed to explore Niggenkemper’s conception, they also represent forums for strong musical personalities, a key function for dynamic jazz composition as well as an ensemble.

The New York City Jazz Record review by John Sharpe

CF 290John Hébert Trio – Floodstage (CF 290)
Bassist John Hébert has clearly picked up a thing or two from his association with some of the hottest names in the business, from Andrew Hill and Fred Hersch to Mary Halvorson, Ingrid Laubrock, Peter Evans and Taylor Ho Bynum. He steps into the limelight on Floodstage, the sophomore effort by his trio with French pianist Benoît Delbecq, renowned for his use of piano preparations, and in-demand drummer Gerald Cleaver. He’s made his choice of bandmates wisely, as they follow the model of egalitarian interplay championed by pianist Bill Evans and developed via the likes of Paul Bley and Howard Riley.

Hébert’s writing generates unforced but thoughtful interaction full of barely suppressed emotion. Although leader, the Louisiana native remains unshowy. His solid resonance allied to flawless judgement gives his contributions an air of inevitability, as he appears to subscribe to the Charlie Haden school of bass playing, in which one note takes the place of ten. Cleaver proves the perfect foil, his subtle impressionistic momentum, comprising splashy cymbals, tappy percussion and tight rolls, hinting at the beat but rarely settling on it consistently. Delbecq combines polyrhythms with melodic fragments and
minimalist repetition, which mesh into a propulsive latticework, most persuasively on the unaccompanied “Saints” and then with accompaniment on the subsequent “Sinners”.

In a splendid opening summing up the ambience of the disc, both weighty and airy at the same time, “Cold Brewed” offers a heady mix of prepared and
regular piano, amid a flurry of cymbals and measured bass. To that Delbecq adds some birdlike warbles from his analog synth in one of the most tasteful uses of electronics on record, neither sounding alien or overwhelming the acoustic instruments. On the title cut, tension between bass and piano resolves into an off-kilter swing, where the three demonstrate their mastery, slightly expanding and contracting the time.

A similarly left field approach informs the only nonoriginal, an intriguing rendition of the traditional “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”, which drifts dreamily in and out of bluesy focus. Nothing is quite what it seems,
except that there is more to appreciate with each listen.

Free Jazz review by Filip ‘Booka’ Bukrshliev

CF 289Matt Bauder – Nightshades (CF 289)
There are a lot of interesting connections and similarities between Matt Bauder and Nate Wooley, besides the fact that they know each other very well and that they play together on multiple records, including the one I review here. Both of them had huge success with the debut recordings for Clean Feed in 2011. Both of them presented albums where they lead a couple of musicians to fearlessly dive into the rich tradition of the jazz idiom. Nate’s quintet records recalled the sound of Eric Dolphy’s monumental Out to Lunch, Matt Bauder Day In Pictures managed to capture the essence of the famous “3 o’clock in the morning, downtown NY” Rudy Van Gelder sound. And then, both of them had somewhat of a strange sophomore release that followed.

Nate Wooley’s Sit in The Throne Of Friendship offered us an augmented lineup, a more expanded take on the debut record, somewhat more calm, almost pastoral “dust & dirt” sound, with a lot of wind in the tree tops. At first it was a strange record for me, not at all what I expected, but on repeated listens I started to perceive the layers, the depth, the meaning of the themes, the magic of the solos, the timbre, the pulse, the silence. Now for me it’s a regular, almost daily affair to listen to that album.

It’s almost the same experience with the new Matt Bauder record – Nightshades. The line-up change is here, the sound and structure that caught me off-guard are here, the whole new aura that surrounds the music – here. Instead of Angelica Sanchez on piano – here we have the tireless genius of Kris Davis. Angelica brought the rich piano sound and an interesting ear for counterpoint and the wit to find harmonies in the strangest places that expand the palette of sound. Kris Davis is more about movement – almost percussive, majestically restrained and controlled chromatic chaos, that sparkles totally unexpected and unusual lines trough the record. For me she is the main reason why this is an entirely differed record from the first one – Kris Davis just can make that much of a change in the structure and the dynamic. Nate Wooley is also one of the reasons why this record is different than the previous one. He is like… unrecognizable. The bright golden tone, the restraint, the discipline. Not that someone should want and expect discipline from Mr. Wooley’s trumpet, but its interesting to see all of his incarnations, all his of his coats and colors, to see how he can change, how he can answer a certain call.

And now, for the leader of this quintet.

There are too many musicians that are capable of capturing a certain era, structure or sound – and consider it like it’s their own, so that they can chew on in till they turn themselves and the familiar quality into a shameless self-parody. Matt Bauder is not one of them. Matt Bauder is romantic about a certain era, but he never acts like he invented it. Matt Bauder is just happy to have the honor to play with the familiar sound and its endless possibilities, to challenge himself, to hold hands with it, to look it in the eyes, to make love with it, to let it go. It’s always a blast to discover how the story rolls on with his deep narrative solos, to let the inventive themes to take complete control of your feet. I can not recall a reference of such velvety tenor sound like the one of Matt Bauder… and man, that signature shivering sound… what can someone possibly say about that?!

It was nice to experience all the stages with this record, the disbelief, the boredom… and then the revelation. Why we tend to put things in boxes with labels and expect certain things? No one knows. Doubt that anyone in this quintet knows for sure. But “Matt Bauder and co.” know how to let go and not to chew on things over and over. Simply just let your self go on this magnificent record.

Highly recommended!

Dnevnik review by Ičo Vidmar

CF 286Kaja Draksler – The Lives of Many Others (CF 286)
Kakšno leto je za Kajo Draksler! Mlada, 26-letna pianistka, ki spaja novi jazz s sodobno kompozicijo, nadvse rada koncertira in študira; igra v različnih mednarodnih ansamblih, a nastopa tudi solo. Pri izbiri prostorov za nastope ni izbirčna. Volja do igre in zavzetega javnega predstavljanja svojega dela v najrazličnejših situacijah je prvo, po katerem danes spoznamo glasbenico.

Začnimo z njenim študijem na Nizozemskem. Za magistrsko delo o strukturi v svobodni improvizaciji pianista pianistov Cecila Taylorja je v minulem letu prejela laskavo priznanje. Če bi se pred petnajstimi leti kdor koli izmed domačih jazzovskih pianistov poglabljal v Taylorjevo telesno, ritmično igro in jo tako razčlenjeval, bi ga verjetno imeli za lunatika. Tu je prišlo do obrata. Težko ujemljivi, ekscentrični free jazzar vznemirja in buri domišljijo. Naši mladi glasbeniki pač hodijo študirat v tujino, redno muzicirajo in vsrkavajo mnogo več znanja, različnih pogledov kakor generacija glasbenikov pred njimi. Mreže prireditvenih prostorov v Evropi pa so za zdaj precej dobro razprostrte in solidno podprte.

Drakslerjeva je v času jazz festivala v Ljubljani, kjer je predstavljala svoja dognanja o Taylorju, posnela tudi gradivo za solo album za prodorno portugalsko založbo Clean Feed. Podobno kot album Igorja Lumperta je izšel kot del posebne »ljubljanske jazzovske serije«. O tem, da ta založba dobro stoji v jazzovskem svetu in ima dobre stike s publicisti, brez katerih danes tudi v svetu nekomercialnih godb preprosto ne gre, že pričajo prve ugodne kritike albuma The Lives of Many Others v mednarodnem tisku.

Te same po sebi ne pomenijo kaj dosti, če angažirani pianizem mlade glasbenice dejansko ne bi odstopal od povprečja, ki ga danes predstavljajo mladi učeni prebiralci tipk. Že uvodni komad, ki je hkrati tudi naslovni, po malem prijetno šokira. Pianistka suvereno seže v notranjost klavirja in iz strun izvablja gromoglasne ritmične bloke, ki pa se v popolnem kontrastu razvežejo v melodično fraziranje z nekaj ritmičnimi hakeljci. Teh drobnih posebnosti, iskanja kontrastov in fines, zafrknjenih motenj na albumu kar mrgoli, tudi tam, kjer se znajde sredi hermetičnega prostora in išče glasbeno rešitev, nekakšno alogično pot ven. Ponekod se v gradnji skladb zasliši široko referenčno polje klavirja, tako koncertne tradicije 19. stoletja kot živahna stičišča z epizodami jazzovskega klavirja. V levi roki je Drakslerjeva na trenutke tako močna in udarna kot kakšna Mary Lou Williams.

The Lives of Many Others ni enostaven album z godbo za vsako priložnost, ne kopiči vsakdanjih, naučenih milozvočij, ki vas bodo zasanjane ponesla drugam. Je raznovrsten, čist v izvedbi, nazoren v izpeljavi zamisli, rezih, ki zarežejo v glasbeni tok. Včasih igra stopica na mestu, drugič se dinamično preslika v nekaj povsem drugega, na primer v mali fluidno zafrknjeni suiti. Tam poslušalca pričaka njena imaginacija. Fin klavirski album.

Jazzword review by Ken Waxman

CF 278Joe McPhee – Sonic Elements (CF 278)
While solo sessions have multiplied over the past few years, one person who was experimenting with the singular form as long ago as 1976 is multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee. Sonic Elements Clean Feed CF 278 CD is his most recent set in that genre. Demonstrating the breath of his skill, he divides this 41-minute live set in half, improvising on pocket trumpet in honor of Don Cherry at the beginning, and concluding with a salute to Ornette Coleman on alto saxophone. That said McPhee doesn’t replicate any Coleman or Cherry licks during the performance. Instead he creates distinctive sound picture of each individual. With “Wind-Water” McPhee’s Cherry snapshot is built up from plain air pops, watery growls and spiraling grace notes. When the output swerves into tonality a mellow melody appears only to be deconstructed with staccato guffaws, sharp whistles and vocal murmurs. An extended final sequence is balanced with vocal cries and whispers that help illuminate the dedicatee’s heartfelt struggle for peace. Meanwhile, if anything “Earth/Fire-Old Eyes” proves that Coleman’s purported wild experimentation is based on the bedrock of jazz: blues and work songs. Using maximum emotionalism and minimal notes here, the saxophonist’s initial tongue slaps and altissimo cries give way to a sequence which includes foot-stomping percussiveness and a theme that could practically be a pre-Emancipation song of celebration. As the countrified line is hardened, tremolo echoes, reminiscent of primitive bagpipe or concertina airs confirm this connection. The climax occurs as sharp, staccato interjections and the composition’s sweet, yearning textures become one and the same.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

CF 288Elliott Sharp – Aggregat Quintet (CF 288)
A passagem do projecto Aggregat de trio a quinteto não se limitou à adição de Nate Wooley (trompete) e Terry L. Green (trombone) às palhetas de Sharp e à máquina “pan-rítmica” de Brad Jones (baixo) e Ches Smith (bateria). Se nestas páginas se escreveu que o simpático disco em trio era uma ilha mainstream na discografia de Sharp, já Aggregat Quintet soa como a banda residente de um circo que tem um David Lynch encharcado de anfetaminas como mestre de cerimónias.
Fanfarras adstringentes e maníacas, caleidoscópios ácidos, turbilhões ferozes e ritmos entrecortados colidem num caos controlado que exerce um fascínio irresistível – a magia só se quebra em “Lacus Temporis” e “Cherenkov Light”, onde a efervescência dá lugar a uma desolação azeda.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

CF 283Pascal Niggenkemper Vision7 – Lucky Prime (CF 283)
O novelo animal e vegetal da capa espelha bem a exuberância e variedade de formas e cores do septeto do contrabaixista Pascal Niggenkemper, um grupo irrequieto que se diria resultar da colisão do Jazz Workshop de Mingus com o Ensemble Intercontemporain.
Mas se “Carnet Plein d’Histoires” e “”I Don’t Know Why, But This Morning…” são electrizantes, pelo fervilhar rítmico (que pode atingir a intensidade de um tornado) e pelo caleidoscópio tímbrico, o resto do CD não é tão conseguido. As intervenções vocais de Emilie Lesbros (entre a declamação e o scat possesso e alternando francês, inglês e alemão) são inteligíveis apenas intermitentemente e se, nas faixas acima mencionadas, ajudam ao frenesim, noutras são apenas uma interferência enervante.