Tag Archives: Bigmouth

Wall Street Journal review by Martin Johnson

Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth – Deluxe (CF 74)
“Deluxe,” the superb new recording by bassist Chris Lightcap and his group Bigmouth, a quintet that has played together since 2005, is emblematic of a few trends on the local jazz scene.

The album features several first-tier New York musicians— saxophonists Tony Malaby, Chris Cheek and Andrew D’Angelo, drummer Gerald Cleaver and keyboardist Craig Taborn—and is the first recording by Mr. Lightcap’s group in nearly eight years. It was done for Portugal’s Clean Feed label, which has picked up the slack as many American labels reduce their output of new jazz.

“It’s hard to get us together in one place,” said Mr. Lightcap recently at a café near his Windsor Terrace home. “We’re all so busy that we don’t get to play as much as we’d like.”

As domestic jazz recording has declined, so have the opportunities for the next wave of greats to play on the best-known stages in jazz. To get exposure, they have turned to smaller places instead. On Thursday, Bigmouth will perform at the Stone, an artist-run space in the East Village.

Mr. Lightcap, who is 39, has played with avant-garde and mainstream groups since arriving in New York in the early 1990s. His primary sideman gigs now are with violinist Regina Carter and her Reverse Thread group, which blends jazz and African music; and with such leading musicians as pianist James Carney, guitarist Ben Monder, drummer Matt Wilson and Circle Down—a group led by drummer Chad Taylor.

Ms. Carter first heard Mr. Lightcap at a rehearsal with saxophonist Dave Rogers 11 years ago. “The charts were rhythmically challenging,” she said, “but Chris’s playing was assertive and motivating.” She added that she was impressed by the sound he achieved without amplification.

It is Mr. Lightcap’s sound—big and elastic—that makes “Deluxe” so appealing. Most bassists provide the musical ground for their bandmates from behind, but Mr. Lightcap’s combo features his sound out front with no loss of unity. Messrs. Malaby and Cheek’s two tenor saxophones are out front, too, creating soaring harmonies and incisive, contrasting solos.

Mr. Lightcap said the band’s structure grew out of his experiences here in the late ’90s. “I played in a lot of trios—usually bass, drums and sax—without a chordal instrument because a lot of rooms didn’t have a good piano,” he said. That led him to start thinking about a group with no piano and more saxophones on the front line; his first two recordings as a leader were in a two-sax, bass and drum quartet.

On “Deluxe,” Mr. Lightcap has added a third saxophonist, Mr. D’Angelo, on two tracks. It’s the first time they’ve recorded with Mr. Taborn, who joined the group in 2005 on Wurlitzer electric piano and acoustic piano. “I love the sound of the Wurlitzer,” the bassist said. “It takes me back to some of the music I loved growing up, like Ray Charles in the early ’70s, Aretha Franklin’s ‘Live at the Fillmore,’ Donny Hathaway’s ‘Live,’ and Yes.”

A native of Latrobe, Pa., Mr. Lightcap studied piano and violin as a child, but didn’t become passionate about playing until he took up the bass as a teenager. He attended the Governor’s School of the Arts, a Pennsylvania program for aspiring musicians. “I was the only bassist, so I got to play everything,” he said.

He wasn’t completely sold on becoming a professional musician, but after graduating from Williams College he attended a workshop with the great drummer Ed Blackwell that convinced him to come to New York and give it a shot. Here he distinguished himself by playing on both sides of a divided jazz scene. “There were a lot of cliques back then,” he said. “But now everybody plays everything.”

Mr. Lightcap met Mr. Cleaver (whose own band, Uncle June, will follow Bigmouth at the Stone on Thursday), at a session with pianist Ben Waltzer in 1998. Mr. Cleaver said in a recent email that “Chris has always had a very deep, spiritual quality in his playing; everything he plays swings hard and is funky.”

For the new project, Mr. Lightcap said that he wanted to avoid the rustic sound of most jazz recordings. “As real as that sounds, it’s artificial,” he said. “It doesn’t sound like that in the studio.” Instead, “Deluxe” has an opaque sheen that makes the sound fuller and more expansive. “I really wanted the sound to reflect that this band is so much more than the sum of its parts.”

All Michael G. Nastos

Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth – Bigmouth (CF 174)
Bigmouth — a project of bassist Chris Lightcap — apparently is inspired by stretched-out, two-toned, tail-finned, white-wall-tired cars of the mid-’50s, in reference to the cover art on Deluxe. The music is ultra-modern from a compositional standpoint, only hinting at neo-bop while pushing the creative improvised harmonic envelope. Lightcap’s expertise on the bass is second to none, as he pushes and prods his way through these original works with an absolutely stellar band of drummer Gerald Cleaver, electric keyboardist Craig Taborn, tenor saxophonists Tony Malaby and Chris Cheek, and on three tracks alto saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo. While some allusions to the vintage autos are reflected in the titles, Lightcap’s vision is of the future, a heady mix of heart and soul embedded in this refreshing new music. The human cry from the three saxophonists in tandem shows their individual strengths abandoned for the common good, especially during the meaty, weighty “Ting,” as an active Lightcap sets the tone in 6/8 time while the stabbing Fender Rhodes of Taborn provides alternate tangents. The music is centered but perfectly identified by shooting out many sparks and shafts of light. “Platform” and “The Clutch” have Cheek and Malaby in saddened or hunched-over moods, funky in odd meters, as if on a long junket to nowhere. There are even darker or bluesy images conjured — slow, deliberate, or swinging — but Lightcap’s slap bass as a prelude for the rockin’ “Fuzz” gives a clearer view of what might be representative of a road song, and a signature sound in relation to the hot rod or classic car. This is a terrific recording from an incredible band that everyone who enjoys these musicians — as individuals or bandleaders in their own right — should play frequently while rolling down the superhighway of life.

Mark Stryker’s (Detroit Free Press)

1. Tom Harrell: Roman Nights (High Note)
2. Geri Allen: Flying Toward the Sound (Motema)
3. Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden: Jasmine (ECM)
4. Rudresh Mahanthappa & Steve Lehman: Dual Identity (Clean Feed)
5. Kenny Dorham: The Flamboyan, Queens, NY, 1963 (Uptown)
6. Hal Galper: E Pluribus Unum (Origin)
7. Bruce Barth & Steve Wilson: Home (WASJS)
8. Jon Irabagon: Foxy (Hot Cup)
9. Cookers: Warriors (Jazz Legacy)
10. Chris Lightcap: Bigmouth Deluxe (Clean Feed)

Hank Shteamer’s (Time Out New York, The Wire) Best of 2010 List

1. Dan Weiss: Timshel (Sunnyside)
2. Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth: Deluxe (Clean Feed)
3. Harris Eisenstadt: Woodblock Prints (NoBusiness)
4. Jason Moran: Ten (Blue Note)
5. Mike Pride: Betweenwhile (AUM Fidelity)
6. Cookers: Warriors (Jazz Legacy)
7. Weasel Walter: Invasion (ugExplode)
8. The Bad Plus: Never Stop (E1)
9. Jon Irabagon: Foxy (Hot Cup)
10. Chicago Underground Duo: Boca Negra (Thrill Jockey)

Lloyd Sachs’ (JazzTimes, Downbeat) Best of 2010 List

1. Steve Coleman: Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (Pi)
2. Henry Threadgill: This Brings Us To Volume II (Pi)
3. Randy Weston: The Storyteller (Motema)
4. Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth: Deluxe (Clean Feed)
5. Jason Adasiewicz: Sun Rooms (Delmark)
6. Ingrid Laubrock: Anti-House (Intakt)
7. Jason Moran: Ten (Blue Note)
8. Tomasz Stanko: Dark Eyes (ECM)
9. Ben Goldberg: Go Home (Bag)
10. Evan Christopher: The Remembering Song (Arbors)

Jim Macnie’s (Downbeat, Lament for a Straight Line) Best of 2010 List

1. Geri Allen: Flying Toward the Sound (Motema)
2. Nels Cline Singers: Initiate (Cryptogramophone)
3. Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth: Deluxe (Clean Feed)
4. Mary Halvorson: Saturn Sings (Firehouse 12)
5. Bill Carrothers: Joy Spring (Pirouet)
6. Jason Moran: Ten (Blue Note)
7. Tarbaby: The End of Fear (Posi-Tone)
8. Fred Hersch: Whirl (Palmetto)
9. Steve Cardenas: West of Middle (Sunnyside)
10. Amir ElSaffar & Hafez Modirzadeh: Radif Suite (Pi)

Martin Johnson’s (Wall Street Journal, theroot.com) Best of 2010 List

1. Mike Reed: Stories and Negotiations (482 Music)
2. Chris Lightcap: Bigmouth Deluxe (Clean Feed)
3. Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green: Apex (Pi)
4. Lucian Ban & John Hébert: Enescu Re-Imagined (Sunnyside)
5. Scott Amendola: Lift (Sazi)
6. John Escreet: Don’t Fight the Inevitable (Mythology)
7. Fight the Big Bull: All Is Gladness in the Kingdom (Clean Feed)
8. Mary Halvorson: Saturn Sings (Firehouse 12)
9. Howard Wiley: 12 Gates to the City (HNIC Music)

Josh Jackson’s (WGBO-FM, Live at the Village Vanguard [NPR Music]) Best of 2010 List

1. Geri Allen: Flying Toward the Sound (Motema)
2. Steve Coleman: Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (Pi)
3. Jason Moran: Ten (Blue Note)
4. Abdullah Ibrahim: Bombella (Sunnyside)
5. Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden: Jasmine (ECM)
6. Avishai Cohen: Introducing Triveni (Anzic)
7. Jason Adasiewicz: Sun Rooms (Delmark)
8. Chris Lightcap: Bigmouth Deluxe (Clean Feed)
9. Microscopic Septet: Friday the Thirteenth: The Micros Play Monk (Cuneiform)
10. Tarbaby: The End of Fear (Posi-Tone)

The Village Voice Jazz Best of 2010 List (texts by Francis Davis)

Jason Moran Tops Himself
The adventurous Ten headlines the Voice’s Fifth Annual Jazz Critics’ Poll

It wouldn’t be exaggerating much to say that Jason Moran’s only competition in the Fifth Annual Village Voice Jazz Critics’ Poll was Jason Moran. Ten, his first trio album in seven years, won Album of the Year in a landslide, but that’s not all. The pianist figured prominently on the runner-up, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green’s Apex, and Charles Lloyd’s Mirror, which finished fourth—only a surprise No. 3 showing from rising guitarist Mary Halvorson kept him from a hat trick. Add Paul Motian’s Lost in a Dream, on which Moran and saxophonist Chris Potter are virtually the veteran drummer’s co-leaders, and that gives the 2010 MacArthur Fellow four appearances in the Top 10—a fete unprecedented in this poll’s short history and unlikely to be equaled anytime soon.
Mary HalvorsonVijay IyerPaul MotianArts, Entertainment, and MediaI wanted this year’s poll to do the impossible, to go some way toward restoring my faith in the democratic process following November’s dismal midterm elections. And in its modest way, it did. With Moran and drummer Nasheet Waits varying the dynamics and dancing around the beat while bassist Tarus Mateen holds fast to it, Ten easily passes the most crucial test facing any piano-trio album: You never find yourself wishing for horns. It’s an extremely worthy winner, and listening to it again as I write, not only do I feel guilty about its absence on my own ballot, I find myself applauding my colleagues for showing smarts I evidently lack.

Since the poll’s 2006 inception, I’ve come to think of my wrap-up as akin to a State of the Union. Starting with that first year’s overwhelming evidence of the mainstream widening to accommodate Ornette Coleman without him so much as meeting it halfway, the results of each subsequent poll have revealed an encouraging new trend: in ’07, something approaching equality for jazz women behind winner Maria Schneider; in ’08, how this country’s changing ethnic demographics are letting jazz go global without leaving home; last year, signs of a long-needed infusion of young blood. This year? Well, Ten is the second consecutive piano-trio winner, following Vijay Iyer’s Historicity, and joining it in the Top 10 are Keith Jarrett’s duets with bassist Charlie Haden, and solo efforts by Iyer and Geri Allen. But a list dominated by pianists strikes me as coincidence rather than as a harbinger of anything in particular.

What might be more significant is that with the majors having all but abandoned jazz until further notice, independents are enjoying a boom, albeit one probably more aesthetic than financial. Pi Recordings claimed four spots in the Top 20, as many as Blue Note and Nonesuch combined placed in the Top 50, the only majors to appear there. ECM enjoyed its usual good showing, although this year’s overall winner might be Clean Feed, a relatively new Portuguese label fast becoming this era’s Soul Note/Black Saint in terms of both quality and prolificacy—a staggering two dozen of its 2010 releases received votes, led by Chris Lightcap’s Big Mouth at No. 12 and Bay Area bassist Lisa Mezzacappa, who tied singer/songwriter Gregory Porter for Best Debut. But along with the perseverance of these indie labors of love, the logical takeway from a Top 10 featuring two women, as well as four musicians under 40 (including Mahanthappa and Iyer, both native-born Americans of Indian descent), is that the trends suggested by previous years’ results genuinely were trends, not just blips. Which I’d say confirms this annual survey’s worth beyond providing readers and participants alike with a catch-up shopping list.

The 2010 Voice Jazz Critics’ Poll: The Results

Jazz Album of the Year
1. Jason Moran Ten (Blue Note)
2. Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green Apex(Pi)
3. Mary Halvorson Quintet Saturn Sings (Firehouse 12)
4. Charles Lloyd Quartet Mirror (ECM)
5. Henry Threadgill’s Zooid This Brings Us to, Vol. 2 (Pi)
6. Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden Jasmine(ECM)
7. Steve Coleman & Five Elements Harvesting Semblances and Affinities(Pi)
8. Vijay Iyer Solo (ACT)
9. Geri Allen Flying Toward the Sound (Motéma)
10. Paul Motian Lost in a Dream (ECM)
11. Dave Holland Octet Pathways (Dare2)
12. Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth Deluxe(Clean Feed)
13. Brad Mehldau Highway Rider(Nonesuch)
14. Myra Melford’s Be Bread The Whole Tree Gone(Firehouse 12)
15. James Moody4B(IPO)
16. Randy Weston & His African Rhythms Sextet The Storyteller (Motéma)
17. Mostly Other People Do the Killing Forty Fort (Hot Cup)
18. Marc Ribot Silent Movies (Pi)
19. Fred Hersch Trio Whirl(Palmetto)
20. Regina Carter Reverse Thread (E1)
21. Claudia Quintet Royal Toast(Cuneiform)
22. Danilo PerezProvidencia(Mack Avenue)
23. Christian Scott Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (Concord)
24. Nels Cline Singers Initiate(Cryptogramophone)
25. Microscopic Septet Friday The Thirteenth: The Micros Play Monk(Cuneiform Records)
26. Tomasz Stanko Quintet Dark Eyes(ECM)
27. Michael Formanek The Rub and Spare Change (ECM)
28. Rudresh Mahanthappa & Steve Lehman Dual Identity(Clean Feed) “My preference for this stand-off with a fellow altoist near Mahanthappa’s own age comes down to their shared belief in the value of stridency (the legacy of Jackie McLean) and the sharper edge that Liberty Ellman’s guitar lends the rhythm section.”- Francis Davis
29. Mike Reed’s People, Places & Things Stories and Negotiations(482 Music)
30. Tom Harrell Roman Nights(High Note)
31. Irene Kral Second Chance (Jazzed Media)
32. Bill Charlap & Renee Rosnes Double Portrait (Blue Note)
33. Steve Lacy November (Intakt)
34. William Parker Organ Quartet Uncle Joe’s Spirit House (Centering)
35. Ideal BreadTransmit: Volume 2 of the Music of Steve Lacy(Cuneiform)
36. Billy BangPrayer for Peace(TUM)
37. John Escreet Don’t Fight the Inevitable(Mythology)
38. Parker/Guy/Lytton + Peter Evans Scenes in the House of Music (Clean Feed)
39. Jason Adasiewicz Sun Rooms (Delmark)
39. Kris Davis-Ingrid Laubrock-Tyshawn Sorey Paradoxical Frog (Clean Feed)
41. William ParkerI Plan to Stay a Believer: The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield(AUM Fidelity)
42. Guillermo KleinDomador de Huellas: Music of “Cuchi” Leguizamon (Sunnyside)
43. Lee Konitz New Quartet Live at the Village Vanguard (Enja)
44. Nels Cline Dirty Baby (Cryptogramophone)
45. Wadada Leo Smith & Ed BlackwellThe Blue Mountain’s Sun Drummer(Kabell)
46. Esperanza Spalding Chamber Music Society (Heads Up)
47. Either/Orchestra Mood Music for Time Travellers (Accurate)
48. Bad Plus Never Stop (E1)
49. Chucho Valdes & the Afro.Cuban Messengers Chucho’s Steps (Four Quarters)
50. Pat Metheny Orchestrion27
Critics were asked to list 10 albums in descending order, with 10 points awarded for their #1, 9 for #2, etc. (On ballots where choices were listed alphabetically, each received 5.5 points.) The first bold number indicates total points; the number in parentheses is the tally of ballots on which a CD appeared, which was used as a tiebreaker.

Jazz Reissue of the Year
1. Henry Threadgill/Air The Complete Novus and Columbia Recordings(Mosaic)
2. Miles Davis Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (Columbia/Legacy)
3. Stan Getz & Kenny Barron People Time: The Complete Recordings (Sunnyside)
4. Ahmad Jamal Trio The Complete Argo Sessions 1956–62 (Mosaic)
5. John Carter & Bobby Bradford The Complete Revelation Sessions (Mosaic Select)
6. Philly Joe Jones & Dameronia Look, Stop and Listen (Uptown)
7. Duke Ellington The Complete 1932–1940 Brunswick, Columbia, and Master Recordings (Mosaic)
8. Sun Ra Heliocentric Worlds (ESP-Disk)
9. Nat King Cole Riffin’ (Hip-O-Select)
9. Jemeel Moondoc The Muntu Recordings (No Business)
Critics were asked to list three reissues in descending order, with three points awarded for #1, 2 for #2, and 1 for #3. The first bold number indicates total points; the number in parentheses tallies ballots on which a CD appeared, which was used as a tiebreaker.

Best Vocal Album
1. Cassandra Wilson Silver Pony (Blue Note)
2. Irene Kral Second Chance (Jazzed Media)
2. Esperanza Spalding Chamber Music Society (Heads Up)
4. Theo Bleckman I Dwell in Possibility (Winter & Winter)
5. Dee Dee Bridgewater Eleanora Fagan (1915–1959): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee (Emarcy)
6. Rebecca MartinWhen I Was Long Ago (Sunnyside)
7. Catherine Russell Inside This Heart of Mine (World Village)
8. Norma Winstone Stories Yet to Tell (ECM)

Best Debut
1. Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch What Is Known (Clean Feed)
1. Gregory Porter Water(Motema)
3. Eric HarlandVoyager, Live by Night (Space Time)

Best Latin

1. Chucho Valdes & the Afro-Cuban Messengers Chucho’s Steps (Four Quarters)
2. Guillermo Klein Domador de Huellas: Musica del Cuchi Leguizamon(Sunnyside)
3. Conrad Herwig The Latin Side of Herbie Hancock(Half Note)
4. Danilo Perez Providencia (Mack Avenue)
5. Paquito D’Rivera Panamericana Suite (MCG)
For Best Vocal, Debut, and Latin albums, critics were asked to name one album apiece, with no point system.

This poll has become my labor of love—my equivalent of social networking, and, for a couple weeks once the ballots start filling my inbox, just about my only social life. Along the way this year, in addition to a hundred or so albums I might otherwise not ever have known existed, I also got word of layoffs and cutbacks, a corneal abrasion, a nagging heel injury, the death of a mother, the birth of a daughter, and the loss of James Moody to pancreatic cancer. Thanks to this year’s 120 participants for keeping me up to date: David R. Adler, Scott Albin, Clifford Allen, A.D. Amorosi, Larry Applebaum, Chris Barton, Nick Bewsey, Larry Birmbaum, Paul Blair, Larry Blumenfeld, Philip Booth, Michael Bourne, Shaun Brady, Marcia Breton, Christian Broecking, Stuart Broomer, Brent Burton, John Chacona, Nate Chinen, Fred Cisterna, Troy Collins, Thomas Conrad, J.D. Considine, Owen Cordle, Lawrence Cosentino, Michael Coyle, Francis Davis, Steve Dollar, Laurence Donohue-Greene, Alain Drout, Ken Dryden, Donald Elfman, Steve Feeney, Colin Fleming, Ken Franckling, Phil Freeman, David Fricke, Richard Gehr, Andrew Gilbert, Ted Gioia, Lars Gotrich, Kurt Gottschalk, Steve Greenlee, George Grella, James Hale, Ed Hazell, Don Heckman, Tad Hendrickson, Andrey Henkin, W. Kim Heron, Geoffrey Himes, Eugene Holley, Lyn Horton, Tom Hull, Peter Hum, Robert Iannapollo, Josh Jackson, Patrick Jarenwattananon, Willard Jenkins, Martin Johnson, George Kanzler, Fred Kaplan, Larry Kart, Mark Keresman, Bill King, Elzy Kolb, Art Lange, Will Layman, Devin Leonard, Aidan Levy, John Litweiler, Martin Longley, Suzanne Lorge, Kevin Lynch, John McDonough, Shaunna Morrison Machosky, Jim Macnie, Howard Mandel, Peter Margasak, Bill Milkowski, Dan Morgenstern, John Murph, Russ Musto, Marc Myers, Michael G. Nastos, Dan Ouellette, Ted Panken, Thierry Peremarti, Bob Porter, Doug Ramsey, Derk Richardson, Joel Roberts, Chris Robinson, Britt Robson, Jim Roberts, Michael Rosenstein, Lloyd Sachs, Gene Seymour, Mike Shanley, Bill Shoemaker, Hank Shteamer, Slim, Chip Stern, Zan Stewart, Jeff Stockton, W, Royal Stokes, Mark Stryker, John F. Szwed, Jeff Tamarkin, Neil Tesser, Ludwig Van Trikt, George Varga, Andrew Velez, Seth Colter Walls, Jason Weiss, Michael J. West, Kevin Whitehead, K. Leander Williams, Josef Woodard, Ron Wynn, and Scott Yanow.

Time Out Lisboa Best of 2010 List


Fight The Big Bull – All is Gladness in the Kingdom (Clean Feed)
Num tempo em que muito jazz cultiva a abstracção glacial ou o neo-classicismo sorumbático, é revigorante ouvir uma mini big band que, sendo resolutamente moderna, recupera a alegria, exuberância e visceralidade dos primórdios do jazz, com riffs contagiantes, ritmos avassaladores e solos apoplécticos.

Rudresh Mahanthappa & Steve Lehman – Dual Identity (Clean Feed)
Sobre os ritmos intrincados, alguns deles inspirados em drum’n’bass, os saxofones alto de Mahanthappa e Lehman perseguem-se como dois besouros furiosos, rodando em torno um do outro, num circo aéreo que faz a Red Bull Air Race parecer um vôo charter carregado de turistas reformados.

Michael Formanek – The Rub And Spare Change (ECM)
O contrabaixista regressa como líder num disco que faz lamentar a sua ausência da ribalta. O relacionamento entre os músicos é telepático e o quarteto (de luxo: Tim Berne, Craig Taborn, Gerald Cleaver) dança, imponderável, sobre a linha que separa composição (a cargo de Formanek) e improvisação.

Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth – DeLuxe (Clean Feed)
Com a Clean Feed a todo o gás e a distribuição de jazz em Portugal a carburar mal, não é de estranhar que a editora lisboeta coloque três discos entre os melhores do ano. O elenco estelar do quinteto/sexteto Bigmouth e o título do CD sugerem despesismo e ostentação, mas não há aqui nada de supérfluo.

Bernardo Sassetti Trio – Motion (Clean Feed)Bernardo Sassetti é um nome transversal como há poucos no jazz português. Não só por a sua música ser ouvida para lá dos guetos a que muito jazz está confinado, mas também por o próprio Sassetti não ficar preso a um género, partindo do jazz para outras latitudes, como atesta a magnífica versão dos Sparklehorse.