Daily Archives: February 13, 2014

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!