Daily Archives: February 25, 2015

Down Beat press article by Peter Margasak

Eve Risser

All About Jazz Italia review by Giuseppe Segala

CF318Tony Malaby’s Tubacello – Scorpion Eater (CF 318)
Tubacello: un bel sincretismo lessicale per definire l’organico riunito da Tony Malaby in occasione di questo Scorpion Eater. L’accoppiata di tuba e violoncello (che con il termine tubacello diventano un unico strumento, fantastico) viene scelta dal sassofonista in sostituzione del contrabbasso e dà vita a una formazione di marcata duttilità, in grado di affrontare con efficacia l’ampia tavolozza compositiva e la varietà delle improvvisazioni. L’organico strumentale, che si può leggere come un ampliamento del precedente Cello Trio (sempre con John Hollenbeck alla batteria ma con Fred Lonberg-Holm al violoncello), rinuncia pure al pianoforte, nella linea di altre formazioni guidate da Malaby. Tutte le scelte timbriche e di mescolamento cromatico del quartetto ne sono fortemente caratterizzate.

Da una parte c’è il raddoppiamento delle voci gravi, che a volte diventa rafforzamento in unisono, altre volte prende la forma di linee separate. Da un altro punto di vista c’è la liberazione dalle funzioni tradizionali degli strumenti coinvolti, che assumono di volta in volta ruoli di emergenza melodica, di impasto armonico, di intreccio polifonico e poliritmico, oppure di guida, in un gioco che richiama da un lato certe metodologie di Henry Threadgill, dall’altro il Tim Berne del periodo di Fulton Street Maul e Fractured Fairy Tales.

Si passa dunque dalla fitta trama contrappuntistica della musica da camera, in cui la batteria di Hollenbeck è voce melodica e timbrica autonoma (con un inserto al piano preparato in “Beaded Braid”), ai brani con ritmo lineare e danzante, alle esplorazioni timbriche in cui gli strumenti si fondono uno dentro l’altro. Bello in questo senso il citato “Beaded Braid,” il brano più lungo, di circa 15 minuti, costruito a episodi che alternano trasfigurate esplorazioni sonore a concreti momenti tematici.

Modalità di sviluppo simili, a episodi contrastanti tra l’esplorazione astratta e incisive parti tematiche, sono utilizzate in “Trout Shot,” con il tenore del leader, la tuba di Dan Peck e il violoncello di Chris Hoffman alla ricerca di pregnanti giochi mimetici. Cameristico è “March (For Izum),” aforistico e misterioso è “Fur,” con il sax che entra solo nel finale con un’unica, pregnante nota della durata di venti secondi. Altrettanto sintetico (sui due minuti) è il brano che apre l’album, “Buried.” Ma qui il mood è muscolare e perentorio.

Un disco davvero pregevole, arricchito dallo splendido lavoro solistico di Malaby e dei suoi comprimari.


Improjazz review by David Cristol

CF312CDLuís Lopes Lisbon Berlin Trio – The Line (CF 312)
Signataire de plusieurs albums mémorables ces dernières années, à la tête de diverses formations, Luis Lopes a le don de convoquer de belles coalitions pour faire exister la musique qu’il a imaginée. Ainsi, « What is When » avec Adam Lane et Igal Foni en 2009, « Afterfall » avec Joe Giardullo, Sei Miguel, Benjamin Duboc et Harvey Sorgen en 2010, le premier opus du présent Lisbon Berlin Trio en 2011 (tous trois sur Clean Feed), « Electricity » et « Live in Madison » du Humanization 4tet (sur Ayler en 2010 et 2013, avec Rodrigo Amado et les frères Aaron et Stefan Gonzalez) ou le quartette Big Bold Black Bone « Clouds Clues » (Wide Ear Records, 2013, avec Marco von Orelli, Sheldon Suter et Travassos) sont des œuvres abouties et chatoyantes, avec pour dénominateur commun un guitariste incisif, orfèvre de la distorsion, sculpteur d’ambiances sonores aux reliefs roides, également capable d’apartés prolixes puisant dans le vocabulaire du jazz comme dans celui du rock. Le trio s’est produit au festival Jazz em Agosto en août 2014, pour un set privilégiant les drones musclés, si l’on peut se figurer un tel oxymore. Lopes convie l’auditeur à une nouvelle odyssée vertigineuse avec « The Line ». Les sources d’inspiration des compositions sont à trouver dans les sciences physiques, la littérature, la philosophie – et la musique. Anthony Braxton, Stephen Hawking, Fernando Pessoa, Robert Musil, Jean-Paul Sartre et Albert Camus ont questionné les mystères du temps et de l’existence sous différents angles et selon leurs domaines respectifs, et dont cet album (« The Line » ou « la ligne » renvoie à la représentation linéaire du temps de même qu’à la remise en cause de cette perception) se veut le reflet. Cela passe par les élans du leader, anguleux et inattendus mais toujours lisibles, tel un Eddie Hazel ayant troqué les fumigènes contre le scalpel. Cela passe par la comète Christian Lillinger (partenaire de Joachim Kühn et Pascal Niggenkemper), batteur flamboyant que l’on qualifierait volontiers d’indomptable si des passages comme Dark Suite (Epilogue) ne révélaient de sérieuses aptitudes à la délicatesse. Cela passe par la robustesse de Robert Landfermann (qui côtoie John Scofield sur « The Trio meets John Scofield », Pirouet Records et retrouve Lillinger aux côtés d’Achim Kaufmann sur « Grünen : Pith and Twig » chez Clean Feed, tous deux publiés fin 2014). Si sa contrebasse gronde doucement la plupart du temps, elle claque avec véhémence lorsque la situation l’exige – on n’irait pas lui chercher noise. Impressionnant alliage de force et de finesse, voici donc une nouvelle et tonifiante réussite à l’actif de Luis Lopes et de ses acolytes.

New York City Jazz Record review by Ken Micallef

CF318Tony Malaby TubaCello – Scorpion Eater (CF 318)
Malaby’s TubaCello quartet with tuba player Dan Peck, cellist Christopher Hoffman and drummer John Hollenbeck improvises on broader material that is also more otherworldly in design. “This band has a different type of gravity that playing with a bassist simply doesn’t have. I just want to be embedded in that and be in the middle,” Malaby has said. With a drummer/ percussionist as strong as Hollenbeck, everyone’s game rises a notch, allowing the leader in particular to go for musical broke.

Hollenbeck plays trashcan percussion in the fluttering “Bearded Braid”, Malaby croaking like a disturbed morning dove as tuba utters dance-like growling notes. “Buried” recalls old school Chicago swing set afire, Malaby repeating a bluesy phrase as Hollenbeck swing/stalks and cello bobs; Malaby paints engrossing, historic imagery here, like David Murray juking mad in a New Orleans brothel. “Trout Shot” takes yet another turn, Hollenbeck hitting his floor tom in a sparse cadence as Malaby and Hoffman trade interweaving scrawls, all giving way to swashbuckling brushwork and scattershot inside jokes. The lovely title track closes the album, Malaby showing his gentle side, practically mewing soft notes to swooning cello. With Malaby you’re never sure what you’re going to get, but he is surely capable of delivering it all.


Free Jazz review by Antonio Poscic

CF314Zanussi Five – Live in Coimbra (CF 314)
The Scandinavian (especially Norwegian) jazz scene has been home to a slew of wonderful bands and projects during the past years. This time around, it’s bassist Per Zanussi and his quintet that impress us with some amazing and involving music.

Live in Coimbra is, as the name says, a live recording of Zanussi and his cohorts’ performance in Portugal during the Jazz ao Centro 2013 festival and the group’s fourth release. A record so good that by the time you’re done listening to it, you’ll wish that you could’ve been there. Because while the sound of Zanussi Five is difficult to pin-point and describe succinctly and precisely, it’s always positively endearing and imbued with a tinge of Latin (or is it Mediterranean?) intensity and temperament that’s just enough to make it highly addictive and almost danceable. There’s a bit of everything here, from ambient touches to funkiness and exotic modes, and not one of these elements feels out of place or forced. Not at all. It’s beautiful, yet complex music.

Whilst the intro to the record, “Celestial”, is muted, minimalist, even resembling electroacoustic music, the following four tunes are quite dynamic. Groove and wild improvisations intersect while the seductive, pulsing bass lines and Gard Nilssen’s drumming act as anchors. “Hidden People” might remind you of Lars Hollmer’s antics and “All Wrath”, the longest track and a “magnum opus” of sorts, showcases all of the musicians’ chops. Zanussi never imposes himself, playing with fluidity and acting as a true leader. The group is elegant and nimble in their execution, whether swinging or pushing subdued phrases during ballads, painting an accomplished and compelling picture with Zanussi’s material.

There’s rhythm, there’s melody, but the quintet never overindulges and lengthy, interesting, and inspired improvisations break and reassemble the colourful mosaic. Meanwhile, the three dominant reedists, Kjetil Moster, Jorgen Mathisen, Eirik Hegdal on both saxophones and clarinets, propel the ensemble, making waves and splashes. The powerful harmonies carried by saxophones might even fool you into thinking that you’re listening to a big band jazz ensemble, possibly evoking Martin Küchen’s Angles 9. I digress, but this record once again shows that Küchen and Zanussi are kindred souls sharing similar sensibilities, something quite obvious when you listen to their beloved Trespass Trio. Yet, Zanussi’s vision of jazz is unique and, as I’ve said before, this collective is not afraid of combining and toying with idioms from various corners of the jazz (and not only jazz!) scene.

The unfortunate thing concerning releases coming near the end of the year is that they often get overlooked. If I had heard this album earlier, it would have been a strong contender for my best of 2014 list. Lovely music, great musicianship, and inspired compositions and performances make this a no brainer to recommend. And Per Zanussi, well, he proves once again that he is not just a great bassist, but a great leader as well. Hats off to the guys!


All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

CF310Friends & Neighbors – Hymn For A Hungry Nation (CF 310)
This Norwegian band derives its moniker from one of saxophonist Ornette Coleman’s slightly overlooked units Friends and Neighbors, culminating in the 1970 release Live At Prince Street on the Flying Dutchman label. But the impetus for the ensemble’s doctrine resides in the expressive 60s era where Coleman, and other like-minded pioneers often ravaged conventional sensibilities of the jazz vernacular. Here, the good news is that these musicians do not simply rehash the paths previously traversed but provide a dynamic incursion, combining old and new free-jazz tactics, partly inspired by Coleman’s holistic harmolodic principles.

Stating that this group is vibrant is basically an understatement. It’s largely about asymmetrical injections of loosey goosey and complex improvisational fluctuations, combined with an egalitarian collective mindset. The musicians’ agile progressions alternate between highly melodic theme building episodes, subliminal noise-shaping tendencies and and when executing methodical buildups, often augmented by Andre Roligheten’s sawing lines.

The soloists are offered ample space to stretch their wares during these semi-structured plots, bleached with a host of Ornette-isms. They zoom in for the kill, intimating quite a bit of camaraderie along the way, emphasized by impressionistic exchanges and wily segments that go off the radar. But things get a little hectic on “Skremmerud,” where the quintet navigates through rush hour traffic, complemented by the hornists’ glaring choruses; although, they descend back to earth during the bridge then bang out the primary theme one last time for the finale.

“Vocals On The Run” offers sweeping melodious content and an airy underpinning, as bassist Jon Rune Strom shines on his extended bass solo, followed by trumpeter Thomas Johansson’s raucous phrasings, where all hell breaks loose. Hence, this undeniably adrenalized and sharply focused program boasts a profusion of flavorsome delights that sustain value on recurring listens.
Track Listing: Hymn For A Hungry Nation; Bolehogda; John’s Abbey; Give Me Jarrison; Skremmerud; Ceramic Inside; Vocals On The Run; Heading South.


Free Jazz review by Stefan Wood

CF 292Kris Davis Trio – Waiting for You to Grow (CF 292)
Kris Davis is a pianist hailing from Vancouver, currently residing in New York, and has been garnering praise for her creatively adventurous work in the NY music scene. She is influenced by Cecil Taylor, but stylistically covers a wide range, from jazz standards to minimalist works. Waiting for You to Grow is her latest effort on Clean Feed, the Portuguese based label that is at the forefront for contemporary improvised music. It is a trio session, with John Herbert on bass and Tom Rainey on drums.

“Whirly Swirly” opens the album with a military style drum solo from Rainey, before the others come in and counter with a seemingly disjointed and angular response, piano keys banging and bass plucking like industrial machines. It moves from this to a minimal soundscape where piano keys are struck almost in silence, bass strings bowing with a low shrill, before eventually building back up to a heavy and fervent percussive conclusion by all three artists. “Twice Escaped” is a little more straightforward, with Davis leading the way with intricate piano notes that grab the listener with its seemingly repetitive manner but is drawing a more complex soundscape. “Berio,” (a reference to Italian composer Luciano Berio) is a track that begins with a contemplative mood highlighted by Herbert’s bass playing, that moves toward a tension between piano and drums, that begins slow but builds speed, as Davis embarks a series of flutters and flurries that Rainey responds to with more active drum work. It is a high point on the album. “Hiccups” is another delightful track, piano notes darting in and out, descriptive of the title, while bass and drums provide ample support, propelling the music towards a very fluid and boppish course and conclusion. “Propaganda and Chiclets” begins with an agitated trio setting, as all three musicians create a light but low rolling thunderous moment, building in intensity but dissipating just before reaching pure noise and chaos, retreating back towards a more contemplative mood. “Waiting for You to Grow,” is a low key mood piece, Davis tastefully working with the almost silence with delicate keyword, bass and drums embellishing and adding more dimension. It is a beautiful track and ends the album on a very high note.

The album is excellent overall, again displaying Davis’ skills and original improvisations. Recommended.