Monthly Archives: December 2014

All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

CF295Sei Miguel – Salvation Modes (CF 295)
Here, Portuguese trumpeter, composer Sei Miguel delves into his stockpile of older compositions that were seldom performed or recorded. And his customary, eccentric mode of operations is structured in an enticingly bizarre approach to jazz and jazz improvisation. On this release comprised of three extended tracks, the artist employs two quartets and a ten-piece ensemble as he crafts his attack with odd sound-sculpting metrics, minimalism, avant-space music, and paints liquescent hues atop placid rhythmic persuasions.

“Fermata” is the shortest piece on the album at 9:40 and features a strange alignment of instruments, evidenced by Andre Goncalves’ Hammond manipulation, Cesar Burago’s percussion and radio interference and Margarida Garcia playing or using something identified solely as, twin. With Miguel’s terse horn statements, the presentation intimates an otherworldly and slowly moving epic that could loosely pass for mechanical implements during a fabrication cycle.

Burago’s radio waves inject some blissful white noise underpinnings amid his asymmetrical tapping maneuvers using small percussion instruments. The band dishes out variable microtonal processes but Miguel eventually adds bluesy choruses into the mix, sparking a touch of realism along the way. Nonetheless, citing the avant-garde spectrum may be the easy way out when trying to categorize Miguel’s artistry. Regardless, he’s in a class of his own and possesses a distinctive pen. Sit back, relax, and let the music escort your senses to parts unknown.


All About Jazz review by Troy Collins

CF301Pharoah & The Underground – Spiral Mercury (CF 301)
The formation of the Chicago Underground collective in the late ’90s provided cornetist Rob Mazurek with an unrestrictive setting to explore the endless possibilities of creative improvised music with his Windy City peers. A lengthy sojourn in Brazil followed, resulting in a similar project—the São Paulo Underground. Mazurek’s international activities subsequently established him as a prolific composer and industrious bandleader.

It was the release of Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra (Thrill Jockey, 2008), Mazurek’s fortuitous collaboration with vanguard trumpeter Bill Dixon, that confirmed his credentials as a visionary avant-gardist. The equally enthralling Matter Anti-Matter (caught on tape in 2009 and issued by Rogue Art in 2013) followed, pairing the Orchestra with iconic AACM multi-instrumentalist Roscoe Mitchell. Recorded at the 2013 Jazz em Agosto Festival in Portugal, Spiral Mercury continues Mazurek’s practice of working with venerated masters, featuring members of the Chicago Underground and São Paulo Underground supporting none other than tenor titan Pharoah Sanders.

In contrast to the Rogue Art set, in which Mitchell was an invited guest, Pharoah & The Underground is a working band and Spiral Mercury is its debut, featuring Sanders as the primary soloist. Sanders’ infamously histrionic delivery has matured over the years into a burnished lyricism reminiscent of his former employer, John Coltrane, but his expressive potential remains undiminished, as demonstrated on the title track, where he unleashes spiraling cadences that ascend from plangent refrains to fervent multiphonic cries. Mazurek makes an apt foil for the revered saxophonist throughout the set, his protean versatility encompassing everything from coruscating fusillades to hushed motifs.

Underpinning the muscular frontline, Matthew Lux’s throbbing electric bass lines and Chad Taylor’s nimble trap set work provide pliant rhythms for Mauricio Takara’s amplified cavaquinho and Guilherme Granado’s analog synth ruminations, coalescing in a psychedelic bitches brew. The Dark Prince’s influence can be heard in the episodic drama of “Gna Toom,” whereas the mutant funk of “The Ghost Zoo” suggests an electro-acoustic reinvention of the New Thing’s torrid expressionism.

The majority of the program consists of extended variations on some of Mazurek’s most resilient tunes. In addition to the titular cut, which is culled from the Pulsar Quartet’s Stellar Pulsations (Delmark, 2012), the groove-laden “Blue Sparks From Her” originally appeared on the Chicago Underground Duo’s Synesthesia (Thrill Jockey, 2000), while the lively “Pigeon” and anthemic “Jagoda’s Dream” were first documented on São Paulo Underground’s Três Cabeças Loucuras (Cuneiform, 2011).

Masterfully balancing abstract concepts with accessible forms, Mazurek conveys his innovative experiments in an adventurous but approachable manner; this is music that truly sings the body electric. Even with its slightly raw live sound, Spiral Mercury is an excellent example of his oeuvre, fully realized by the vital contributions of his longstanding sidemen and one living legend.
Track Listing: Gna Toom; Spiral Mercury; Blue Sparks From Her; Asasumamehn; Pigeon; Jagoda’s Dream; The Ghost Zoo.

The Big City Best of 2014 list by Bill Meyer’s

Best Jazz Albuns of 2014
Best New Releases:

1 Steve Lehman Octet, Mise En Abîme (Pi)
2 Trio 3 & Vijay Iyer, Wiring (Intakt)
CF3063 Joe Mor­ris Quar­tet, Bal­ance (Clean Feed)
4 Mark Turner Quar­tet, Lathe of Heaven (ECM)
5 Ken Thom­son and Slow/Fast, Set­tle (NCM East)
6 Fred Her­sch Trio, Float­ing (MRI)
7 Tom Har­rell, The Audi­to­rium Ses­sion (Parco Della Musica)
8 Jochen Ruek­ert, We Make the Rules (Whirlwind)
CF 2939 Kul­ham­mar, Aal­berg, Zetter­berg, Base­ment Ses­sions Vol. 2 (Clean Feed)
10 PRISM Quar­tet, People’s Emer­gency Cen­ter (Innova)

Magnet’s Best of 2014 list by Bill Meyers

Magnet’s Bill Meyer picks the best jazz/improv releases of the year

1 Kyle Bruckmann’s Wrack …Awaits Silent Tristero’s Empire (Singlespeed)
2 Brötzmann Adasiewicz Edwards Noble Mental Shake (Otoroku)
3 AMM Place Sub. V. (Matchless)
CF 2894 Matt Bauder And Day In Pictures Nightshades (Clean Feed)
5 Rob Mazurek Mother Ode (Corbett Vs. Dempsey)
6 Russ Johnson Meeting Point (Relay)
7 Cymerman Wooley Parker World Of Objects (5049)
8 Steve Lehman Octet Mise En Abîme (Pi)
9 Keir Neuringer Ceremonies Of The Air (New Atlantis)
10 Travis Laplante’s Battle Trance Palace Of Wind (New Amsterdam)

Le Son du Grisli review by Guillaume Belhomme

CF 289Matt Bauder and Day in Picture – Nightshades (CF 289)
En ces temps de Blue Note Revival, écouter Matt Bauder creuser en profondeur les vieilles symétries n’est pas pour me déplaire. Et ne pas voir en lui l’un des musiciens les plus investis du moment en dit assez long quant à l’imbécilité de la jazzopshère.

C’est que Matt Bauder possède plus d’une corde à son arc. Ici, dans ce territoire vaguement sixtie-Blue Note, il conteste le copier-coller et fonde ses interventions sur des tumultes que n’atteindront jamais les (très) surévalués petits princes des revues en papier glacé. Car Bauder sait comment ériger un chorus et comment troubler les cadres. Et c’est aussi ce que sait faire un Nate Wooley, trompettiste aux courbes ruades. Et tandis que Kris Davis (remplaçant ici Angelica Sanchez) impulse quelque harmonie mensongère, Jason Ajemian et Tomas Fujiwara érigent quelques imposantes cathédrales. Viennent alors à nos oreilles cette science des temps mêlés. Temps mêlés et jamais scellés.

All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

CF306Joe Morris Quartet – Balance (CF 306)
After several albums and great synergy, guitarist Joe Morris disbanded the quartet in 2000 with many of his associates stating it was a “terrible idea.” For this reunion, the musicians’ artistic evolution surges on via a conglomeration of diminutive and soaring theme-building episodes, asymmetrical footprints, and staggered detours, instilling a continual sense of anticipation.

The gala is off to a rousing start on “Thought,” fostered by Mat Maneri’s buzzing viola passages, and the unit’s synchronous improvisational attack, as the musicians’ fluent, Johnny-on-the spot courses of action remain a constant throughout. However, they temper the pulse with the brooding “Trust,” where Morris’ dark-toned electric lines, executed with twirling flurries and intricately devised constructions, form a clustering effect atop bassist Chris Lightcap’s huge bottom. Otherwise, the band abides by a fast and furious gait as they navigate through a maze of micro-motifs, churning out cohesive statements along the way.

The quartet closes the program with the twelve-minute “Meaning,” instigated by Morris’ flickering notes; Lightcap’s linear phrasings and shrewd counterbalancing techniques. Drummer Gerald Cleaver’s textural cymbals swashes help broaden the backdrop, as Maneri rides above the musical horizon amid a fractured and twisting solo spot. Hence, the ensemble works toward a centralized focus, while gradually narrowing the overall soundscape in spots. Cleaver also imparts a sweeping solo in the bridge section, ratifying an expansive plane to complement the effervescent groove. Among other positives, Morris’ quartet is a unit you can count on for extending the limits of whatever improvisational model(s) they process, coinciding with the artists’ dynamic interactions and dizzying rhythmical measures. review by Nuno Catarino

CF306Joe Morris Quartet – Balance (CF 306)
O novo “Balance” marca o regresso de Joe Morris ao seu quarteto dos anos 1990. A guitarra de Morris volta a contar com a companhia de Mat Maneri na viola, Chris Lightcap no contrabaixo e Gerald Cleaver na bateria. O prolongado tempo de hibernação não se faz notar e, com toda a naturalidade, a elevada qualidade dos instrumentistas acaba por encontrar paralelo na dimensão colectiva da música. Segundo Morris escreve nas “liner notes” que para estúdio levou apenas algumas ideias melódicas para a sua guitarra, deixando os seus parceiros a improvisar sem qualquer referência. A verdade é que o quarteto cedo revela uma magnífica união, sem necessidade de material escrito para encontrar a orientação comum.

Morris tem um raro som aveludado, como que vindo de outra época, mas encaixando-se na perfeição em qualquer ambiente, e até em música completamente aberta. A viola de Mat Maneri confirma tudo o que se disse sobre este ao longo das últimas duas décadas. Chris Lightcap é, sem dúvida, um dos grandes deste século. Além de inúmeras colaborações, editou o óptimo “Deluxe” na “nossa” Clean Feed. A bateria de Gerald Cleaver é capaz de uma versatilidade rítmica sem limites.

A secção rítmica não se mostra apenas sólida como também inventiva, lançando faíscas a todo o momento. Morris encontra em Maneri um companheiro à altura, fervilhante de ideias, numa parceria que emana fulgor. Entre estes quatro músicos – Morris, Maneri, Lightcap e Cleaver – a comunicação é permanente. Assistimos a um diálogo constante que faz a música evoluir de forma consistente, sem choques, com toda a segurança.

Uma das faixas mais interessantes (e algo atípica no alinhamento) é a terceira, “Trust”. Neste tema lento a percussão de Cleaver fica-se pelas vassouras, o contrabaixo de Lightcap é um eixo central (primeiro no arco, depois na pulsão como motor), a viola de Maneri deixa-se levar pela imaginação e a guitarra de Morris contrapõe notas sóbrias. Bem fez Morris ao ressuscitar este quarteto de boa memória. Desmentindo a ideia popular, nunca é tarde para se voltar aos locais onde já se foi feliz.