Author Archives: cleanfeed

All About Jazz review by John Sharpe

CF 294Eric Revis: Eric Revis: In Memory Of Things Yet Seen (CF 294)
Although the title to bassist Eric Revis’ quartet offering appears to pay homage to some of the early AACM documents (think pianist Muhal Richard Abrams’ unaccompanied manifesto Things To Come From Those Now Gone (Delmark, 1975)), the actuality is a different animal entirely. Having rung the changes since the acclaimed City of Asylum, Revis’ outfit acts primarily as a vehicle for exploring imaginative charts drawn from across the band, along with two free jazz classics and two group inventions, this time without a piano in sight. And with a resume extended from a longtime home base with Branford Marsalis to include dates with reedmen Peter Brotzmann and Ken Vandermark, Revis defies easy categorization.

That ethos persists when considering the baker’s dozen of cuts on this studio session, as the ensemble encompasses a wide range of terrain. With this end in mind Revis has assembled a versatile top notch cast. Alto saxophonist Darius Jones plies his customary blend of sweet sour tunefulness and atonal skronk, contrasting with the more muscular motif-driven legato of tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry. Drummer Chad Taylor handles whatever’s asked of him with graceful assurance, from rhythms either funky or intricate to balls to the wall pulsation.

In spite of the talent on hand, the fare remains less about solos which tend to be concise, and more about group interplay and mood. Nowhere is breadth of intent better illustrated than in the opening two tracks, where Taylor’s vibes infuse the wistful Satiesque “The Tulpa Chronicles I” framing the leader’s spare melodic variations, while the structured improv “Hits” commences with a clarion burst alternated with short explosive vignettes from each member before a final unruly collective. Revis revels in darting lines, hocketed themes (whereby a tune is shared between two or more instruments), and multiple layers of action, evidenced by the joyously awry “The Tulpa Chronicles II” and the vibrant “The Tulpa Chronicles III” which features an energetic arco workout by the bassist.

Of the two covers, Sun Ra’s “Shadow World” hews close to the version on Magic City (Saturn, 1966), featuring suitably extraplanetary shrieks by the two horns, as Taylor pummels to a frenetic crescendo, while Sunny Murray’s “Somethin’s Cookin'” juxtaposes slowly percolating saxophones against busy bass and drums. Revis’ erstwhile employer guests on the boppish “Unknown” inserting a knotty tenor outpouring into the buoyant limber swing, and again on the improvised “FreeB” joining a melee of bickering reeds crashing like waves on the shore. Overall there is almost too much to savor. Five numbers clock in at less than three minutes and even the longest is just over seven, so it would be great to hear them stretch out on all of this material in a concert setting.

Free Jazz review by Matthew Grigg

SHH 010Thurston Moore/Gabriel Ferrandini/Pedro Sousa – Live at ZDB (Shh10)
Survival Records, October Revolution in Jazz, Tzadik and The Stone, Studio Rivbea, Jazz Composers Guild, El Saturn Records, Company Week and Incus, Mopomoso, Debut Records; there is a well established precedent of Free music practitioners having to create their own opportunities for exposure. Thurston Moore offers an alternative to this template. Sure, he has established his own record label, and helped curate concert series and festivals. But where his contribution really differs is in the profile he has within mainstream culture, and the manner in which that platform has been used to espouse the merits of what interests and informs him. A staunch champion of Free music, Moore once claimed to be interested in “playing with anyone” which has lead to countless ad hoc groupings with less-than-household names (as well as many of the cream of the current Free Improvisers). In addition to which, many of his recordings have been issued by small independent labels, affording them increased visibility often outside of their usual demographic.

With the release of this live set recorded in Lisbon, Moore has killed both these birds with one stone. Saxophonist Pedro Sousa (Pão) and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini (Red Trio) have been rightly lauded on these pages, and whilst their names are not entirely unfamiliar, this release affords them both individual attention and an opportunity to step out from behind the relative anonymity of their band’s names. Similarly, fledgling Portugese label Shhpuma, baby brother to the excellent Clean Feed, now has its own turn in the sun.

According to the label’s promotional spiel, during pre-gig discussion the trio had agreed they would “play soft, focusing on the details”. They do not keep to this plan for long. Ferrandini and Sousa are straining at the leash almost from the off, the saxophonist’s overblown textures keening to erupt, the drums verge on bubbling over, seemingly trying to goad the guitarist into following. Moore, so often the noisenik in these situations, is the coolest head, playing the long game like an old master. He keeps pace as the others race ahead without being fully drawn into the fray, calming the initial impetuousness with languid feedback lines. In so doing, part of the game plan remains intact and textural ‘detail’ becomes the foundation, albeit roughly hewn rather than ‘soft’.

Texture is Moore’s stock in trade and the grumbling low-end smears of Sousa’s tenor and baritone work well in this context, furthered by the gritty electronics he deploys which often shadow or add surface detail to the contorted guitar lines. Ferrandini interjects serrated accents amid his propulsive percussion, often coalescing around the more knotted clamour as inertia pulls inextricably toward the red. The trio play with this sense of tension for the duration of the set, on countless occasions the heat their momentum generates seems certain to fully ignite and finally submit to its incendiary potential. However, even at its most scorched it feels like a controlled burn, with a large depth of field to the dynamics.

This inaugural encounter smoulders with potential and suggests more to come should the trio ever be reprised. Moore is on a fine run of form at the moment, as this blog will attest. Long may it continue.

Aftenposten review by Arild Andersen

CF 303Angles – Injuries (CF 303 LP and CD)
Det er på høy tid at et større publikum får ørene opp for Martin Küchen.

Den svenske saksofonisten har en egen kreativ nerve i det han gjør. Jeg kan ikke huske å ha sett han en eneste gang på scenen uten at han har fylt rommet med bærende innhold. Han kan være engasjerende smal som lydkonstruktør og eksperimentalist, men som leder for bandet Angles, har han gjort noen av sine beste fremstøt.

Det som for syv år siden var Angles 6, har vokst til Angles 9, og ministorbandet har nærmet seg en form som kan minne om Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra. Musikken kombinerer et vemodsvakkert, ledig drag med en opprørsk tone.

Küchen har skrevet materialet, og bandmedlemmene har arrangert. Besetningen teller mange av samtidens fremste svenske jazzmusikere, samt den norske saksofonisten Eirik Hegdal. Vibrafonist Mattias Ståhl har en sentral plass. Han tilfører en swingende oppdrift i et ellers groovy landskap. Magnus Broos trompet spruter og risler, ettersom musikken skifter karakter.
Den vakre og ubekymrede melodien i In our midst hviler på et alvorlig fundament. Slik veksler og kontrasteres elementene i et gnistrende hele. Med Injuries har Angles 9 etablert seg som et av de mest interessante faste ensemblene i Europa.

All About Jazz review by John Ephland

CF 303Angles 9 – Injuries (CF 303)
What’s to love about this CD is the musicality that’s thrown into the maelstrom of styles and attitudes. You’ve got a hint of early, experimental jazz from the mid-60s with the opening number, “European Boogie” (think Bobby Hutcherson with Eric Dolphy or Archie Shepp, the vibes being paramount); that’s until they all start into a kind of Tower of Power incantation. From there, it’s a lot of well-mannered, outlandish rummaging, the nonet of Angles 9, led by saxophonist Martin Kuchen, and their “injuries” playing out across seven varied originals.

This music is a rarefied listen to those with a flair for the sound of instruments played well but also played with an eye and ear for semi-organized sound generally painted outside the lines. Injuries is both inside and outside. Angles 9 surprises in part because of the marvelous array of instrumentalists on board, vibraphonist Mattias Stahl a key voice but also Eirik Hegdal joining Kuchen on the rolling, rollicking almost-marching-band entreaty “Eti.” Other cast members who surface as vivid musical personalities include trombonist Mats Aleklint, cornetist Goran Kajfes and trumpeter Magnus Broo. Not a straggler among the bunch.

“A Desert on Fire, A Forest /I’ve Been Lied To” highlights the rhythm section, it’s trolling, ruminative cadences come to us almost like a death watch, lovely and mysterious, pianist Alexander Zethson, bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Andreas Werliin plodding along (with vibraphonist Stahl in tow) as the song gradually unfurls with the whole ensemble. It’s as if everyone is expressing what it feels like to be lied to.

Broken up into four sections, all arrangements are by the band; a band of merry-makers full of ideas, full of group empathy. Moods change from boisterous to somber, the unpredictability factor combined with top-notch musicianship the calling card.

Expresso review by João Santos

CF 294Eric Revis Quartet – IN MEMORY OF THINGS YET SEEN (CF 294)
É também um tropismo no jazz, este que proclama advir do invisível tudo aquilo que se vê. Trata-se de uma inferência com raízes na “Epístola aos Hebreus” que, por hábito, se encara como uma profissão de fé, e, no inglês (conforme o álbum de Don Pullen de 1983), se enuncia tradicionalmente de acordo com o canónico “Evidence of Things Unseen”. Eric Revis será algo helénico nas suas leituras e com uma astuta reformulação da frase dá antes ênfase a uma visão mais unificada do mundo – no comunicado da Clean Feed, logo após a declaração de que esta banda tem “muito respeito pela tradição e mais ainda pela tradição de fazer andar as coisas para a frente”, encontram-se referências hagiográficas ao Ornette de 1968 e ao Dave Holland de “Conference of the Birds”. Ou seja, aqueles que melhor conhecem o percurso do contrabaixista poderão deduzir que deu uma vez mais soltura ao historiógrafo que há em si – relembre-se o seu papel em “Footsteps of Our Fathers”, de Branford Marsalis. Mas não é de todo esse o caso. E a verdade – talvez por poucos acreditarem na possibilidade de vir novamente o jazz a ter impacto na maneira de agir e pensar de cada um – é que não é suposto tocar-se hoje com tanta esperança, imprudência e destemidez combinadas. Há aqui uma peça de Sun Ra de meados dos anos 60 e outra de Sunny Murray da década seguinte mas nem procedendo consoante impulsos tão coreografados se ofuscam os seus intérpretes. Além de composições originais, Eric Revis, Chad Taylor, Bill McHenry e Darius Jones, com Marsalis a participar num par de temas, propõem pensamentos originais, e maior elogio à sua capacidade de invenção não se vislumbra.

All About Jazz review by Troy Collins

CF 298Lawnmower – Lawnmower II (CF 298)
Drummer Luther Gray described in the liner notes to West, Lawnmower’s 2010 Clean Feed debut, that the record was an attempt to reconcile the various genres he’d worked in throughout his career—an all-inclusive approach that could be traced back to the stylistically diverse music he listened to on a Walkman while mowing lawns in his youth. Lawnmower II, the quartet’s sophomore effort, reinforces Gray’s initial inspiration, conjuring aural impressions of the lazy, hazy days of summer.

The new album features some surprising personnel changes; Gray and expressive alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs remain as the sole original members, whose shared experiences include working with Taylor Ho Bynum, Joe Morris and Timo Shanko. The indie rock-pedigreed guitarists Geoff Farina and Dan Littleton have been replaced however, by classically-trained violinist Kaethe Hostetter and pop-savvy electric bassist Winston Braman, who reveal a nuanced, collaborative rapport.

Like West, which traversed the panoramic expanses of Americana, this session exudes a similarly cohesive ambience. Assertive detours, like “Cartoon” and “Tiny Wings,” are exceptions, although even the latter’s skittering rhythms are offset by languid glissandos from Hobbs and Hostetter. The program’s prevailing mood is one of probing, groove-laden introspection; “Good Beat” channels mid-tempo Afrobeat, while “Walk In The Park” subtly references a strolling blues, but it’s the twelve minute “Space Goat” that best illustrates the date’s charms. Anchored by a hypnotic ostinato and Gray’s loping backbeat, Hostetter’s wah-wah laced violin weaves psychedelic variations in harmony with Hobbs’ vocalized alto refrains, while Braman’s fuzz-toned bass provides an electrifying undercurrent.

Despite the change in lineup, the group continues to evince the same sort of rich conversational interplay that defined the ensemble’s first album, imbuing Lawnmower II with an adventurous sensibility that transcends the limitations of genre or style.

All About Jazz review by John Ephland

CF 295Sei Miguel – Salvation Modes (CF 295)
A delicacy pervades this music from start to finish. Sei Miguel’s Salvation Modes is flush with silence, interludes, the sounds of musical instruments that made you love them in the first place. The disc is spread over three extended pieces: the first piece, “Preludio e Cruz De Sala,” including trumpeter Miguel with guitarist Pedro Gomes, trombonist Fala Mariam and percussionist Cesar Burago; the second, entitled “Fermata,” with Miguel also on finger cymbals along with Andre Concalves on hammond manipulation, Margarida Garcia on twin (whatever that is) and Burago again on percussion but also radio; and “Cantata Mussurana” (with inclusive dates for the work of 1996 to 2012), featuring the leader once again on trumpet as he directs a tentet that includes a viola, a singer, bass guitar, drums, alto saxophones, bandoneons, modulated feedback and various percussion instruments. This three-part suite of sorts of all composed and arranged music by Miguel refrains from any in-your-face shock mannerisms, and instead combines engaging musicality with radical notions of form, the improvisations spontaneous but mannered.

Subtly subversive, Salvation Modes seems to be all about extending the conversation about instruments, improvisation and listenability to include multiple musical personalities, all under the direction of Mr. Miguel. For example, the 18- minute “Cantata Mussurana” appears to hover around Pedro Lourenco’s funky bass (hiccups to Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon”) as singer Kimi Djabate introduces a quiet, resonant, moaning voice. Miguel’s trumpet bleats unobtrusively, followed by a clambake of percussion, Ernesto Rodriguez’s viola twitches and more recited and sung words from Djabate. It’s fermentation but without an obvious outlet. We don’t know where we are going with this music, and yet it keeps us listening, varied in its approach, thoroughly musical all the while outlandish in demeanor. Similarly, the 27-minute “Preludio e Cruz De Sala” uses tempered instrumentation in non- tempered ways, with dynamic ranges that can be ear- splitting when the music isn’t approaching a kind of modest solemnity. Trombonist Mariam’s blaring horn at times creates a kind of electrocution that extends the possibility of that normally brassy tonal instrument alongside Burago’s plucky, spacious percussion. The music on “Preludio” also includes Mariam playing it relatively straight with ghostly guitar musings from Gomes before the leader pops in for some more parched, almost mid-’70s Miles Davis-like tones, tones that are stretched out in a way that gives new meaning to the phrase musical space.

Like many instrument-driven projects (vocals included) both in and outside of jazz and improvised music, Salvation Modes can become like an alternate-universe soul music, the sounds of each voice kindred spirits. Perhaps, hence the title.

All About Jazz review by Mark Corroto

CF 297Rodrigo Amado – Wire Quartet (CF 297)
It is possible that Portuguese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado’s earlier releases caught your attention because of the names of his playing partners. Chicago trombonist Jeb Bishop recorded two discs with Amado’s Motion Trio, The Flame Alphabet (Not Two, 2012) and Burning Live At Jazz AO Centro (JACC Records, 2012). There was also Searching For Adam (Not Two, 2010) with cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, drummer Gerald Cleaver, and bassist John Hébert and The Abstract Truth (European Echoes, 2009) with bassist Kent Kessler, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. Obviously, he keeps good company, like bassist Ken Filiano, guitarist Luis Lopes, and trumpeter Peter Evans.

With that curriculum vitae, his working bands sans guests, are worthy recorded outings. Here we find Amado’s Wire Quartet, which is made up of two-thirds of the RED Trio, drummer Gabriel Ferrandini and bassist Hernani Faustino, who also perform with saxophonist Nobuyasu Furuya. The fourth member is guitarist Manuel Mota, who has collaborated with the likes of Noël Akchoté and Toshimaru Nakamura.

The three pieces presented have a nonchalance about them. The quartet strips away the requirement for excessive bravado and musical macho often heard in free jazz. It’s not that they don’t rev their engines, it just that they appear to have no need to beat each other (or the listener’s ears) into submission. The opening track, “Abandon Yourself,” saunters in on Amado’s tenor and Mota’s guitar sounding like mellowed and less frenetic versions of Evan Parker and Derek Bailey. Amado prefers a blues thread running through his sustained solos. The quartet picks up the pace fueled by Ferrandini’s merry- go-round of percussive activity. But even at its most frenetic, the fever of this band is manageable and controlled by the players. Half way through, the band pulls the brakes for some introspective exploration. Amado serves some hushed, overblown tenor and Faustino bows clement bass passages—all entirely within the structure of the piece. The remaining two pieces, both much shorter in length, continue the ennobled theme. This quartet has no need to invite guests musicians to draw attention to their most excellent music making.


All About Jazz Italy review by Vincenzo Roggero

CF 283Pascal Niggenkemper Vision7 – Lucky Prime (CF 283)
Prime è il debutto discografico per i Vision 7 di Pascal Niggenkemper ed è album trasversale come pochi. In Lucky Prime avanguardia, free, musica da camera, contemporanea e sperimentale, noise si ritrovano in una sorta di camera di combustione lenta e inesorabile che rischia di esplodere al minimo respiro.

Ma a caratterizzare in maniera del tutto unica l’album, a trasformarlo in un prisma dai molteplici riflessi è la mobilità dell’organico. Quando il settetto si muove compatto e al completo ci si ritrova frastornati non solo dall’onda sonora che ne deriva ma dalla molteplicità di input che assalgono l’ascoltatore, e dalle direzioni impazzite che sembrano possedere i loro movimenti.

Nel momento in cui l’organico si scompone in piccole formazioni sono le combinazioni strumentali a dettare le condizioni. Viola, contrabbasso e vibrafono imprimono il marchio dell’astrattezza, della metafisica e dell’algida allure contemporanea. Il piano preparato di Eve Risser evoca un mondo fatto di mimimi accidenti, di segnali in codice, di provocazioni. Batteria e fiati battono i sentieri dell’improvvisazione a tratti feroce, dionisiaca, a tratti alla ricerca di seppur precari equilibri melodici.

Con la voce di Emilie Lesbros che funge da battitore libero recitando, declamando, utilizzando uno scat improbabile, attraversando la cortina di suoni con esplosioni gutturali, o lenendo talvolta le ferite procurate da strumenti affilati. Maneggiare con cura.

Expresso review by João Santos

CF 292Kris Davis Trio – Waiting for You to Grow (CF 292)
ris Davis – Massive Threads (Thirsty Ear)
Regressa aos discos a solo Kris Davis – o anterior nesse registo, “Aeriol Piano”, era de 2011 – e, por uma vez, o que se nota é a mecanização de certos recursos. O que só confirma que nem mesmo os mais singulares pianistas são desprovidos de maneirismos. Talvez daí resulte uma afinidade com Monk, neste “Massive Threads” revisitado através de ‘Evidence’, embora a canadiana o agarre como uma decoradora desinteressada em combinar materiais ou sequer a adaptá-los aos espaços a que se destinam. O ritual minimalista de ‘Ten Exorcists’, o romântico fraseado de ‘Desolation and Despair’ ou os espasmos rapsódicos de ‘Intermission Music’ comungam do evangelho pós-modernista mas o mais excitante que possuem é o humor que nos seus títulos se subentende. Há nisto uma qualidade preambular que reduz o escopo da operação. Derradeira peça: ‘Slow Growing’.

Aproveitando a deixa, já a reincidência no trabalho com o trio de “Good Citizen” (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2010) se revela de maior interesse histórico, conquanto ampare uma forma interpessoal de afirmação de personalidade e se arrisque a figurar no blog “Shut The Fuck Up, Parents” (quem comprar o CD há de perceber). Mas é sedutor o seu triângulo de estilos: John Hébert continuamente relaxado, Tom Rainey com uma ousadia absolutamente idiossincrática, Davis de uma teatralidade quase arquitetural. As fórmulas conduzem ao fracasso – ao sucesso, também.