Category Archives: reviews

Free Jazz review by Chris Haines

CF312CDLuis Lopes Lisbon Berlin Trio – The Line (CF 312)
****
Masayuki Takayanagi used to encourage his students to have their own guitar trio, seeing it as the definitive ensemble for a guitarist to be able to learn, experiment within and lead. This was the unit that he felt his students could be ambitious with, the trio equally providing the basic elements of melody, harmony and rhythm. Many guitarists enjoy working within a traditional trio format of bass, drums & guitar and there are many great albums that have pushed the boundaries whilst using these instrumental forces. Luis Lopes is no different in this respect and he has previously released two excellent albums using the trio to great effect: What is When with Adam Lane & Igal Foni as well as the first album by the Lisbon Berlin Trio, comprising of Christian Lillinger (drums), Robert Landfermann (bass) & Lopes himself on guitar.

So it was with great excitement and expectant anticipation that I approached this album, especially after the excellent debut, which was a near masterpiece within the genre and complete with the same line-up.

The opener is Dark Suite (Prologue) providing a quiet and gentle, but slightly sinister start to the album with its tentatively bowed double bass, delicate percussion and diminished guitar motives. The feeling of this piece being revisited, altered and expanded further on its sister track Dark Suite (Epilogue) later in the album. At the heart of this album is the thirteen minute Mother Snake, a busy, industrious and chaotic sounding piece, which is full of energy during the first half of the track. The second half continues with the noise based material but in a continuous drone based way, discarding the more pointillistic texture of the beginning and creating an over-arching binary form where the two textures both contrast and compliment each other. Unlike the debut where there was a fine balance between the flowing free jazz playing and the forays into free improv, The Line places its emphasis slightly more on the noise-based materials and fragmented free improvisational textures.

It certainly seems that this trio is Luis Lopes’ experimentation unit that forges ahead with the sonic explorations that his other projects might benefit from in a more refined and subtler way. Having said that I much prefer the rough forms and purely creative play that the Lisbon Berlin Trio has to offer over that of his other work. This is at times a demanding album and due to the selection of materials that are worked with it is not as immediate as the debut, but the eventual pay-off is nearly as great.

http://www.freejazzblog.org/2015/02/luis-lopes-lisbon-berlin-trio-line.html

Expresso review by João santos

CF318Tony Malaby’s Tubacello – Scorpion Eater (CF 318)
****
A acompanhar a receção crítica às suas mais inusuais formações, no jazz contemporâneo é normal impor-se um ponto que se propõe disputar a acracia que lhes é implícita e se resume nestes termos: é essencialmente subversiva ou apenas dispersiva a energia que da sua dinâmica resulta? Isto é, a insólita disposição dos seus elementos é mais uma das suas marcas de distinção ou será a única? Tony Malaby, que surge aqui à frente de um conjunto em que se une a um tubista (Dan Peck), a um violoncelista (Christopher Hoffman) e a um baterista (John Hollenbeck), e conforme se depreende pelo modo em que arruma o assunto, nunca quis tornar uma questão acessória da outra: “Há um contínuo mistério no som da tuba: de onde vem, qual a sua origem, em que lugar se situa na esfera de ação do grupo. [Possui] uma dimensão de que gosto muito.” Aliás, não seria aos 50 anos que substituiria uma convenção por outra. Na verdade, e independentemente da maneira em que se apresenta, a sua produção permanece extraordinariamente avessa a fórmulas. Quanto muito – e o título deste seu disco, só na aparência acerbo, ao inspirar-se por uma criança que adora chupa-chupas de escorpião parece apontar nesse sentido – utiliza-a para assinalar preconceitos a que jamais adere. Ou seja, não é por partilhar a instrumentação que, não há muito, Dave Douglas reuniu em “Mountain Passages” ou, há um pouco mais, e também excluindo o trompete, Arthur Blythe acomodou em “Metamorphosis”, que dos dois se irá aproximar. Até porque, acre e doce e obtusa e aguda e venenosa e sadia, esta é uma música imune ao cinismo. Simplesmente é.

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.

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/scorpion-eater-tony-malaby-clean-feed-records-review-by-giuseppe-segala.php

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.

http://www.nycjazzrecord.com/issues/tnycjr201501.pdf

Free Jazz review by Antonio Poscic

CF314Zanussi Five – Live in Coimbra (CF 314)
****½
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!

http://www.freejazzblog.org/2015/02/zanussi-five-live-in-coimbra-clean-feed.html