Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tor Hammerø Blog review by Tor Hammerø

Norge inntar verden

Norske musikanter og norske band sørger for at det portugisiske plateselskapet Clean Feed Records er et av klodens mest spennende. Her kommer tre gode bevis på det.

CF310Friends and Neighbors – Hymn for a Hungry Nation (CF 310)
…her blir det ikke spart på noe.
Nå er det ikke sånn at Harald og Sonjas menn aleine skal æra for at Clean Feed Records har blitt et så spennende selskap. Selskapet, med base i Lisboa, har trukket til seg noen av de mest interessante musikantene fra begge sider av Atlanterhavet og, i tillegg til å være et uhyre produktivt selskap, så er kvaliteten skyhøy hele veien. I forbindelse med det siste slippet til Clean Feed er det hele tre “norske” utgivelser og alt ligger langt der fremme i løypa.

Kvintetten Friends & Neighbors stifta vi bekjentskap med første gang i 2011 da de debutertre med “No Beat Policy”. Pianist Oscar Grönberg, sist hørt på duo med Eldbjørg Raknes, trompeter Thomas Johansson, tenorsaksofonist og klarinettist André Roligheten, bassist Jon Rune Strøm og trommeslager Tollef Østvang var med da og er med nå. Det forteller oss om en gjeng som vil den samme veien – som har de samme idealene.

Ornette Colemans musikkanskuelse, bandnavnet til herrene er henta fra et berømt Coleman-album fra 1970, ligger absolutt i bånn for denne nye generasjonen også. Den tyske pianistveteranen Joachim Kühn, som har spilt mye med Coleman, har skrevet liner notes og føler seg veldig hjemme i uttrykket til bandet. Da er vi minst to!

I låter ført i pennen av Roligheten, Strøm og Østvang får vi musikk med en frihetsfølelse, men samtidig med klar struktur og retning, som forteller oss om et band som har solid tak på historia samtidig som de er i stand til å ta den med seg inn i vår egen tid. Solistene er alle strålende, musikken er tøff og intens og heldige er de som kan ha sånne venner og naboer.

CF313Velkro – Don’t Wait for the Revolution (CF 313)
…mer internasjonalt og bokstavelig talt grensesprengende blir det ikke.
Til tross for at trioen Velkro har eksistert noen år og har kommet med ei skive tidligere, så har de makta å passere under radaren min. Det kan sjølsagt si en hel del om radaren min, men uansett så er Velkro registret nå og det har også vært et usedvanlig spennende møte.

Trioen består av portugiseren Luis Candeias på trommer, norske Stephan Meidell på gitar, bass og elektronikk og slovenske Bostjan Simon på tenorsaksofon. Meidell, opprinnelig fra Kristiansand, men bosatt i Bergen, og Simon har skrevet musikken og i tillegg er to låter kollektivt unnfanga.

Velkro tar oss med på en ganske så unik ekskursjon som inneholder elementer fra støy, hip-hop, alternativ rock, impro og electronica – uttrykker alle tre har vært borti – og når det blir rista sammen, så er det unikt Velkro som kommer ut i andre enden.

“Don´t Wait for the Revolution” er en helt spesiell musikkopplevelse og spesielt moro er det at musikanter fra tre så forskjellige land har funnet sammen i dette fellesskapet. Uttrykket er søkende, reflekterende, utadvendt, kraftfullt og tøft. Jeg er veldig glad for at Velkro og jeg endelig har møtt hverandre.

CF314Zanussi 5 – Live in Coimbra (CF 314)
…i aksjon i Coimbra.
Helt siden 2001 har bassisten, komponisten og bandlederen Per Zanussi leda Zanussi 5. Det har ført til tre flotte skiver og konserter over store deler av kloden. Bandet med den originale besetninga tre saksofoner/klarinetter, bass og trommer er minst like sultne den dag i dag og denne festivalinnspillinga fra Coimbra i Portugal i månedsskiftet mai/juni i fjor, viser oss nok en gang hvilket strålende kollektiv vi har med å gjøre.

Saksofonene og klarinettene blir behandla på utmerket vis av Eirik Hegdal, Jørgen Mathisen og Kjetil Møster mens Gard Nilssen på trommer tar seg av “resten” sammen med Zanussi.

De fem låtene er alle skrevet av Zanussi og med ei så heftig frontrekke gir det åpning for heftige kollektive utbrudd – nesten storbandfeeling av og til også. Dessuten gir de mange horna muligheter for mange slags musikalske farger. Solistisk er dette herrer i toppklassen og det er helt tydelig at de lar seg inspirere av hverandre og det musikalske fundamentet Zanussi har servert dem. Musikken er melodisk, men samtidig åpen og fri og Zanussi 5 likner ikke på noen andre eller noe annet.

Slippet med de tre norske bandene er nok en bekreftelse på nivået på norsk jazz er skyhøyt. Samtidig er det en bekreftelse på at Clean Feed Records er et av klodens mest kreative, utfordrende og spennende plateselskap.

http://torhammero.blogg.no/1418491418_norge_inntar_verden.html

Jazz Word review by Ken Waxman

CF 304Tony Malaby Tamarindo – Somos Agua (CF 304)
An essay on the intricacies of saxophone improvisation, New York tenor man Tony Malaby explorers every nuance of reed sounds on this matchless session, backed only by the four-square pacing of William Parker’s double bass and the rhythmic flow of drummer Nasheet Waits. Reminiscent of similar trio tours-de-force by Sonny Rollins and Joe Henderson, the seven selections make up a suite whose parts flow logically and seamlessly into one another. At the same time, Malaby’s solos confirm his experimental credo by exposing as many split tones and screeches as emotive flutters and gentling tones.
Never losing sight of the tonal even as his solo explorations appear to produce aural x-rays of his horn’s insides, on the title track the saxophonist’s output is unhurried and relaxed enough to reference the initial theme, even as his dense multiphonics squeeze the last atom of sound out of his horn. Parker’s power stops or sensitive bowing, plus Waits’ crunches and clatters aptly second the saxophone flights. Nonetheless, the most edifying example of the Tamarindo trio’s game plan is the 14-minute “Can’t Find You”. Despite the title, there’s never a moment when the drummer’s intuitive cymbal splashes or drum colors aren’t on track as Malaby stretches stratospheric altissimo cries into slim variations which are finally reconstituted as a powerful narrative. Framing the journey, Parker’s thick stops eventually become supple, supportive strums. With this defining saxophone CD under his belt, it will be instructive to see how Malaby intersects with the local three-saxophones-three rhythm Kayos Theory sextet when he plays The Rex June 27 and 28.
http://www.jazzword.com/one-review/?id=128503

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

CF 275LAMA + Chris Speed – Lamaçal  (CF 275)
****
Susana Santos Silva es un tercio de LAMA, que completan Gonçalo Almeida (contrabajo) y Greg Smith (batería). Para Lamaçal, su segunda grabación, registrada en directo en el portugués Portalegre Jazz Festival, contaron con la colaboración del saxofonista Chris Speed. Gonçalo Almeida es el autor de cuatro composiciones, mientras que Santos Silva, Almeida y Speed aportan una cada uno. “Anemona”, “Cachalote” o “Moby Dick” (nada que ver con la exhibición de John Bonham de los Led Zeppelin) son algunos de los momentos más logrados. En todos sus temas es tan importante la improvisación como la estructura sobre la que esta se desarrolla, la utilización ortodoxa de los instrumentos como la capacidad de explorar sus posibilidades sonoras.
http://www.tomajazz.com/web/?p=8900

Burning Ambulance review by Phil Freeman

CF 277Eric Revis – City of Asylum (CF 277)
Bassist Eric Revis‘s second album for the Portuguese Clean Feed label, City of Asylum, was recently released. It’s a follow-up of sorts to Parallax, an album featuring saxophonist Ken Vandermark, pianist Jason Moran, and drummer Nasheet Waits. That was an interesting collision, given that Moran, Revis and Waits are all black and all East Coast post-bop masters who’ve worked with Branford Marsalis, Andrew Hill and many, many others (Waits is also the drummer in Moran’s Bandwagon trio); Vandermark, by contrast, is a white, Chicago-based free jazz blower who divides his time between the US and Europe, where he allies himself primarily with players like Peter Brötzmann (with whom Revis has also played), Mats Gustafsson, and Paal Nilssen-Love, among others. It didn’t work all the time, but Parallax had its moments, for sure.

City of Asylum shares neither personnel nor thematic commonalities with Parallax. It’s a piano trio date, featuring the bassist, Kris Davis on piano, and Andrew Cyrille on drums. Seven of its 10 tracks are improvisations—the other three are a version of Thelonious Monk‘s “Gallop’s Gallop,” a take on Keith Jarrett‘s “Prayer,” and “Question,” written by Revis.   The album’s first two pieces, “Vadim” and “Egon,” demonstrate both the potency of this trio and the risks of  unmediated interaction. There’s a lot of potential here—Revis and Cyrille almost establish a groove, Davis almost creates a melody the listener can hang onto—and a tremendous amount of eruptive creativity: stabs and flurries from the keyboard, a thick and driving bass throb, delicately dancing cymbals and evocative taps on the toms. But “Vadim” ends without having gone anywhere, or taken the listener on a journey; it’s just distraction. And “Egon,” pointillist and frenzied, with Revis bowing the bass madly, is even more abstract and less welcoming, and has nothing to do with what’s come before—the group has started all over again, from nothing, and the listener must effectively do the same. When the classically Monkian melody of “Gallop’s Gallop” is the next thing heard, it’s hard to not feel relief wash over you. Even so, Davis strives mightily to dissect and scatter the piece, reducing it to its component notes as Revis and Cyrille pulsate and rattle, avoiding the churning, broken-beat swing that was so essential to Monk’s music.

The album continues to vacillate between freely improvised pieces which offer moments of great beauty, but little lasting impact, and composed pieces which do much more. “Sot Avast” has a churning, almost marching rhythm reminiscent of Julius Hemphill‘s “Dogon A.D.,” especially when Revis returns to bowing the bass, creating thick, skull-filling drones. The group’s version of Keith Jarrett‘s “Prayer” is a slowly unfurling flower, easily the disc’s most emotionally resonant moment, while Revis’s composition “Question” has a Monkish feel all its own, and the band swings through it in an abstracted but forceful manner, Davis offering shimmering ripples and hypnotic, repeated phrases from the piano. The title track, which closes the disc, might be the most surprising piece here; Revis plucks some of the highest notes the bass can offer, sounding almost like a violin at times, while Davis darts about the keyboard, notes falling like raindrops on a pond, and Cyrille barely brushes the toms, rumbling like far-off elephants. It’s more like chamber jazz than anything that’s come before, and it demonstrates the possibilities of improvisation, when the players are 100 percent in mental and emotional sync, better than anything else on City of Asylum. This is an album with peaks and valleys, but it’s definitely one of the most interesting piano trio releases of 2013.
http://burningambulance.com/

Squidco review by Paul Serralheiro

CF 260Lytton / Wooley + Ikue Mori and Ken Vandermark The Nows (CF 260)
Although this CD is essentially a duo project uniting veteran drummer Lytton of the English improv scene and relative newcomer and trumpet technician extraordinaire Nate Wooley of the NYC scene, it is in part a two-CD set of live trio performances, the first including laptop artist Ikue Mori and the second reedist Ken Vandermark. One set recorded at the Stone in NYC, the second at Chicago’s The Hideout, both in March of 2011.

The creative core of the double-disc offering is Lytton and Wooley, and what a creative core it is. Wooley in particular is a striking musical personality with a percussive and timbral approach to the trumpet that stretches the repertoire of sounds one usually associates with the instrument. Not that he is alone in extending the language of the horn. Many have come before him, including people like Don Cherry, Bill Dixon, Joe McPhee, and Dave Douglas, but what Wooley brings is a more formidable skill than his predecessors in what is usually referred to as extended techniques. With contemporaries like Peter Evans, Wooley is redefining what is possible with the trumpet, which includes all kind of multiphonics, tonguing and buzzing sounds the trumpet is capable of, but which have been left out of the idealized trumpet sound, and included in all this are feats of circular breathing that are coherently and musically integrated.

Lytton, best known for his work in the English free jazz scene since the 1960s, most notably with Evan Parker, brings an articulate percussive foil to Wooley’s conceptions and the two, although more than a generation apart, are a natural match in terms of musical freedom and architectural and textural concerns. Both seem to have an endless flow of creative ideas about creating and manipulating sound and their equally strong personalities here support each other while also standing squarely on their own — along and together, facts amply clear in the opening duo track “Free Will, Free Won’t,” one of three duo tracks on the two CDs. The other tracks feature either Ikue Mori on computer or Ken Vandermark on clarinet, bass clarinet, and tenor or baritone saxophones. The two guests add to the already well-defined duo sound rather than alter it to any great or discernible extent, although Vandermark’s contributions seem at times to prod Wooley into some different, broader or more open sounds and motifs than on the other tracks.
http://www.squidsear.com/cgi-bin/news/newsView.cgi?newsID=1567

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

CF 266Eric Revis’ 11:11 – Parallax (CF 266)
Bassist Eric Revis and his II:II group sure stepped in something good when they got into the studio and recorded the album Parallax (Clean Feed 266). Maybe there’s almost no going wrong with a band that includes Revis, Nasheet Waits, Jason Moran and Ken Vandermark! But they do more than just get a session together here; they make a statement! There are a bunch of Revis originals that have historical depth yet are staunchly avant; there are some collective numbers; there are numbers by Vandermark and Attias; and a couple of classics: by Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton.  It all has real clout–the masters are in the house and they are playing like they mean it. Revis writes things you don’t forget. Everybody plays their butts off. The couple of classics get a new wardrobe. Everything goes right!   Get this one. Don’t hesitate.
http://gapplegateguitar.blogspot.pt/2013/05/eric-revis-iiii-parallax.html

Improjazz review by Luc Bouquet

GONZALEZ1

GONZALEZ2

Lucid Culture review by Alan Young

Ran Blake / Sara Serpa – Aurora (CF 264)
For a singer, recording a live album with Ran Blake is a potential minefield. The iconic noir pianist is no mere accompanist: he’s a bandmate. To say that he’s hard to follow is an understatement to the extreme. What is there about Blake that hasn’t been said already? That he is to improvisation what Schoenberg was to composition, maybe? Other pianists would kill to be able to command the kind of otherworldly menace that Blake goes up onstage and pulls out of thin air. And while there’s more often than not a rigorous logic to his melodic sensibility, there’s no telling where he might go with it.

This past May, Sara Serpa took fate in her hands and recorded a live piano-and-vocal album with Blake, titled Aurora and just released on Clean Feed. Adventurous as this may seem at face value, Serpa and Blake have the advantage of being old friends: she’s been a protegee of his since their days together at the New England Conservatory. Which comes as no surprise: they’re peas in a pod, rugged individualists and formidable intellects who share a fondness for third-stream eclecticism and a fear of absolutely nothing. This new album builds on the often shattering camaraderie they shared on their initial duo recording, 2010′s Camera Obscura.

What’s not news is that this is Blake being Blake, chilling, unpredictable yet at the same time giving the songs here plenty of wit, sometimes cruel, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes surprisingly droll. What’s news is how much Serpa, already a distinctive singer, has grown. The disarming quality of her completely unadorned, crystalline, reflecting-pool mezzo-soprano pairs off memorably and not a little hauntingly with Blake’s broodingly opaque, occasionally savage tonalities. Although her approach to a song has every bit as much rigorous precision as Blake’s, she’s back at her old Lisbon stomping ground here (at the sonically superb Auditorio da Culturgest, recorded both in concert and live in the hall the following day) and is clearly feeding off a triumphant homecoming of sorts.

The first song is Saturday, a ballad recorded by Sarah Vaughn early in her career. From its defiantly icy intro, “Saturday…just a doesn’t matter day” becomes a coolly poignant lament. When Autumn Sings, the first of two R.B. Lynch/Abbey Lincoln compositions, finds Blake doing an offhandedly creepy waltz up against Serpa’s surprisingly bluesy melismatics. And yet, by the end, he’s lured her deep into the shadows.

The duo veer between phantasmagorical ragtime and various shades of macabre on a piano-and-vocalese improvisation on Konrad Elfers’ Dr. Mabuse, from the film soundtrack – it’s one of the album’s high points. From there they segue into Cansaco, a 1958 hit for fado icon Amalia Rodriguez. It opens with a moonlit mournfulness, Blake and Serpa exchanging motifs, always understating the song’s lovelorn drama

They follow that with a jauntily carnivalesque take on the bizarre 1950s space-travel relic Moonride, inspired by the Chris Connor version. Serpa sings Strange Fruit a-cappella with a chilling nonchalance, only digging into the melody when the imagery becomes grisly. Blake’s solo spot, titled Mahler Noir, defamiliaizes a couple of late Romantic theme with a tersely crystallized, crepuscular menace that wouldn’t be out of place in peak-era Pink Floyd. Then they romp twistedly through The Band Played On, chosen since the song appears on the soundtrack to Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train.

Love Lament, another Lynch/Lincoln song, gets a broodingly spacious understatement, Serpa matching Blake ellipsis for loaded ellipsis. They keep the snowswept angst going with Wende: the way Serpa sings “pressing so deep into my soul” will rip your face off. By contrast, Fine and Dandy juxtaposes wry Van Morrison allusions with Serpa’s utterly trad, completely deadpan acrobatics. They close the show with a ballad Serpa selected, Last Night When We Were Young, underscoring this ode to defeat with an absinthe hush that’s as quietly powerful as anything these two artists can conjure. Like their previous collaboration, this album makes a mockery of any attempt to rank it against others from this year or for that matter any year. This is music for eternity, a bleak yet sometimes unexpectedly amusing antidote to the shadows encroaching around us.
http://lucidculture.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/ransara2/

JazzWrap review by Stephan Moore

Igor Lumpert / Martin Kuchen

Innertextures Live (CF 257)
Trespass Trio – Bruder Beda (CF 251)
Two divergent releases from Portuguese label, Clean Feed, filled my listening over the last few days. And they are both worth checking out for different reasons.

Born in Slovenia but raised on the diverse traditions of both American and European Jazz, Igor Lumpert has a style that is both relaxed and complex. His training and performing with the likes of Reggie Workman, Buster Williams and Chico Hamilton to name a few probably has a lot to do it. But on Innertextures Live, Lumpert’s third release as leader, he begins to shape his voice, vision and destiny.

Innertextures seems to be a revolving cast of musicians that each delicately and diversely interprets Lumpert’s richly molded compositions. This approach reminds me of a less cerebral approach to Chicago Underground, led by Rob Manzrek. But here, Lumpert is more concerned with taking the listener on a journey of colourful expressions and hard bop tonality.

“Still Dreaming” gets things off to delightful start. Tordini’s slow infectious bassline is wrapped tightly by the always exciting Waits kit. Lumpert throws bold and muscular notes that intersect at various points with his bandmates but shows that this live outing is going modern but with a few twist and turns. “Perug” rips along in furious succession. Tordini and Waits are giving space to create some nice, big solos with lots of creative pace. Lumpert’s fury throughout this piece felt like mid-period Coltrane.

Lumpert shows great skill and beauty on “This Is For Billy Holiday.” A lovely ballad with poise and passion. It’s heavy and introspective but filled with Lumpert taking a delicate and exact approach. This piece really shows the diversity in his performance and compositions on Innertextures Live.

Remaining introspective but moving almost completely in the opposite direction, Swedish reedman, Martin Kuchen returns with a set from his Trespass Trio. Molded and wrapped in more layers than the previous two sessions with this trio, Kuchen explores more personal family history (which he has done in recent years). This time about his relative who was a World War I Jewish German veteran who later became a Monk. A passionate and intense celebration can be felt throughout the trio debut, Bruder Beda (named for the relative).

There is a deep sense of solitude from the piece “Don’t Ruin Me.” Per Zanusi and Raymond Strid provide a Jewish heritage backdrop with their steady notes and rhythm. This allows Kuchen to stretch and create a dialogue that tells the story smoothly but with thick texture. “Todays Better Than Tomorrow” feels like a suite. The opening movement is a rich cavalcade of emotions led by Kuchen. This moves effortlessly into quiet, atmospheric tones which Strid does a good majority of the improvising. The final movement sees the trio rejoining its original themes with a harder edge and then gently taking the listener downward to fade out.

The blistering “A Different Koko” and the third outtake of “Ein Krieg In Einem Kind” both present Kuchen’s ability to scale the heights of free form expression but also still maintain a sense of inner depth. That density is something even the non-familiar Kuchen listener can be drawn to. Kuchen’s lyricism envelops you by the end of this emotional journey. Very exciting work.

Igor Lumpert’s Innertextures Live is a wonderful work of romanticism and hard bop that is slightly not what you expect from the avant garde jazz label. Marting Kuchen again shows that he is one of the talented and well-sought after musicians on the European scene with Bruder Beda. With two ends of the spectrum represented – one with a modern approach, the other more spiritual and thought-provoking. You would do well to experience both of these great saxophonists. Highly Recommended and richly enjoyable.
http://jazzwrap.blogspot.pt/

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

I love the music of these guys. They sound fresh, inventive, clever, and utterly soulful and compelling. They are Thomas Heberer on trumpet, Joachim Badenhorst on clarinet, Pascal Niggenkemper on bass, and Joe Hertenstein on drums. The first three already made the excellent “Clarino” on No Business last year, while Heberer, Niggenkemper and Hertenstein released “HNH” on Clean Feed. And now they are back, with one trio and one quartet.

Thomas Heberer’s Clarino – Klippe (CF 226)
****½
The incredibly impressive percussion-less chamber music on this album is the result of Heberer’s own “Cookbook” notation, by which improvised phrases are played, repeated and then reintroduced into an agreed structure. The approach requires astute listening and concentration, an aspect which is audible in the music, and adds a kind of dimension of caution and fragility. In contrast to many other musicians of their generation, they hardly ever resort to extended techniques, yet they use their instruments in the most “voiced” traditional way, but with the skills of virtuosi.

The overall sound as a result is calm, precise and subtle, sometimes grave, sometimes playful, often full of wonder, full of surprise. There is an incredible tenderness for the notes played, and intense feeling of cohesion despite the freedom the musicians have. Even if some of the pieces sound abstract at first listen, this is easily compensated by the sensitivity in each musician’s timbral richness and the emotional delivery.

I could start describing the music, but as usual words fail me. You have to listen to it yourself (here, on eMusic, for instance). Trust me, you won’t be disappointed,

Highly recommended!
http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/2011/09/heberer-niggenkemper-hertenstein-and.html