Tag Archives: CF 301

Jazz Magazine review by François-René Simon

CF301Chicago/São Paulo Underground Feat. Pharoah Sanders – Pharoah & The Underground – Spiral Mercury (CF 301)



Jazz.pt Best of 2014 list by Critics Poll

Os melhores de 2014

Mais um ano de crise, mais demonstrações de criatividade. Eis o balanço feito pela equipa da jazz.pt dos 12 meses que passaram, com os melhores entre os melhores e as listas individuais de quem escreve esta revista. Conclusão principal: no que à música nacional diz respeito, a colheita de 2014 foi de especial qualidade.

Melhores discos internacionais
CF306 CF302 CF301

Joe Morris Quartet: “Balance” (Clean Feed)
Vijay Iyer: “Mutations” (ECM)
Keith Jarrett / Charlie Haden: “Last Dance” (ECM)
Wadada Leo Smith: “The Great Lakes Suites” (TUM)
1982: “A/B” (Hubro)
Gorilla Mask: “Bite My Blues” (Clean Feed)
Fire! Orchestra: “Enter!” (Rune Grammofon)
The Bad Plus: “Inevitable Western” (Okeh)
Marc Ribot Trio: “Live at The Village Vanguard” (Pi)
Nigel Coombes / Steve Beresford: “White String’s Attached” (Emanem)
Steve Lehman Octet: “Mise en Abîme” (Pi)
Pharoah & The Underground: “Spiral Mercury” (Clean Feed)
Daunik Lazro / Benjamin Duboc / Didier Lasserre: “Sens Radiants” (Dark Tree Records)

Melhores discos nacionais
CF295 CF297 CF312CD

Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio & Peter Evans: “The Freedom Principle” (NoBusiness)
Sei Miguel: “Salvation Modes” (Clean Feed)
Luís Vicente / Rodrigo Pinheiro / Hernâni Faustino / Marco Franco: “Clocks & Clouds” (FMR)
Nate Wooley / Hugo Antunes / Chris Corsano: “Malus” (NoBusiness)
Rodrigo Amado: “Wire Quartet” (Clean Feed)
João Guimarães: “Zero” (TOAP)
João Lencastre’s Communion: “What is This All About?” (Auand)
João Hasselberg: “Truth Has to Be Given in Riddles” (Ed. de Autor)
Coreto: “Mergulho” (Carimbo Porta-Jazz)
Bande à Part: “Caixa-Prego” (Creative Sources)
Joel Silva: “Geyser” (Sintoma Records)
Vicente/Marjamaki: “Opacity” (JACC Records)
Luís Lopes Lisbon-Berlin Trio: “The Line” (Clean Feed)
Fail Better!: “Zero Sum” (JACC Records)


Wondering Sound Best of 2014 list by Staff Contributor

To outsiders, jazz has the tendency to seem like an ossified genre — “serious” records for “serious” people, with anything significant having happened decades ago. If you needed any more proof that this thinking is absolutely ridiculous, this list is it. Here are 25 records from artists that are bold, brash, exciting and forward-thinking, unafraid of flirting with other genres, but reconfiguring them into something new and daring. The 25 Best Jazz Albums of 2014 represent the vanguard of contemporary music, pushing things forward one note at a time.

25. Rafael Karlen – The Sweetness of Things Half-Remembered (Pinnacles Music / CD Baby)
CF30324. Angles 9 – Injuries (Clean Feed)
23. The Cookers – Time and Time Again (Motema Music,Llc / Entertainment One Distribution)
22. Tyshawn Sorey Trio – Alloy (Pi Recordings)
21. Jane Ira Bloom – Sixteen Sunsets (Pure Audio)
20. Get the Blessing – Lope and Antilope (Naim Jazz / The Orchard)
19. Sam Newsome – The Straight Horn of Africa: A Path of Liberation (CD Baby)
18. Omer Avital – New Song (Motema Music,Llc / Entertainment One Distribution)
17. Steve Wilson/Lewis Nash Duo – Duologue (MCG Jazz)
16. The Bad Plus – The Rite of Spring (Masterworks)
15. John Ellis & Andy Bragen – MOBRO (MRI / The Orchard)
14. The Westerlies – Wish the Children Would Come On Home (Songlines Recordings / The Orchard)
13. Darius Jones and Matthew Shipp, Cosmic Lieder – The Darkseid Recital (AUM Fidelity / Virtual)
12. Billy Hart Quartet – One Is the Other (ECM)
11. Miguel Zenon – Identities Are Changeable (Miel Music / CD Baby)
10. Farmers By Nature – Love and Ghosts (AUM Fidelity / Virtual)
CF 2929. Kris Davis Trio – Waiting for You to Grow (Clean Feed)
8. Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band – Mother’s Touch (Posi-Tone Records / The Orchard)
7. Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio – Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio (Concord)
6. Oliver Lake Organ Quartet – What I Heard (Passin’ Thru)
5. Mitchell/Taborn/Baku – Conversations II (Wide Hive Records)
CF3014. Pharoah & the Underground – Spiral Mercury (Clean Feed)
3. Trio 3 With Vijay Iyer – Wiring (Intakt)
2. Sean Jones – Im•pro•vise (Never Before Seen) (Mack Avenue / The Orchard)
1. Steve Lehman Octet – Mise en Abime (Pi Recordings)


The Quietus Best of 2014 list by Stewart Smith

With so much creative and exciting jazz and improvised music out there, no single list could hope to represent it all. So, a disclaimer: this top twenty is an entirely personal selection, determined by my own tastes, knowledge and access. It’s largely on the avant-garde side of things, but that doesn’t mean this music is inaccessible or overly cerebral. This is some of the most beautiful, inventive and passionate music I’ve heard this year, and there’s no shortage of great tunes, riffs or rhythms alongside the skronking and scraping. To reflect the global spread of this music, I’ve tried to cover a number of British, European and Japanese artists alongside the American masters. There will inevitably be great albums I’ve overlooked, so feel free to add your recommendations in the comments section below. We’ll be back in January with the regular roundup of new releases, reissues and event previews. But for now, party on and free the jazz!

-Wadada Leo Smith – Great Lakes Suite (Tum)
-Wadada Leo Smith – Red Hill (RareNoise)
-Akira Sakata & Giovanni di Domenico – Iruman (Mbari)
-Sakata, Berthling, Nilssen-Love – Arashi (Trost)
-Jemeel Moondoc – The Zookeeper’s House (Relative Pitch)
-Rodgrigo Amado Motion Trio & Peter Evans – The Freedom Principle / Live In -Lisbon (No Business)
-Billy Bang & William Parker – Medicine Buddah (No Business)
-William Hooker & Liudas Mockunas (No Business)
-Peter Brötzmann, Jason Adasiewicz, John Edwards, Steve Noble – Mental Shake (Otoroku)
-Kidd Jordan, Peter Kowald, Alvin Fielder – Trio And Duo In New Orleans (No Business)
CF301-Pharoah And The Underground – Spiral Mercury (Clean Feed)
-Large Unit – Erta Ale (PLN)
-Max Johnson, Ingrid Laubrook, Mat Maneri, Tomas Fujiwara – The Prisoner (No Business)
-Black Top feat Steve Williamson (Babel Label)
-Farmers By Nature: Gerald Cleaver, William Parker, Craig Taborn – Love & Ghosts (Aum Fidelity)
-Nicole Mitchell’s Sonic Projections – The Secret Escapades Of Velvet Anderson (Rogue Art)
-Raymond MacDonald & Marilyn Crispell – Parallel Moments (Babel Label)
-Alexander Hawkins – Song Singular (Babel Label)
-Alexander Hawkins Ensemble – Step Wide, Step Deep (Babel Label)
-East West Collective – Humeurs (Rogue Art)
-Nate Wooley, Hugo Antunes, Chris Corsano – Malus (No Business)
-Dave Liebman & Steve Dalchinsky (Rogue Art)
-Dead Neandthertals & Colin Webster – Prime (Gaffer Records)


All About Jazz review by Troy Collins

CF301Pharoah & The Underground – Spiral Mercury (CF 301)
The formation of the Chicago Underground collective in the late ’90s provided cornetist Rob Mazurek with an unrestrictive setting to explore the endless possibilities of creative improvised music with his Windy City peers. A lengthy sojourn in Brazil followed, resulting in a similar project—the São Paulo Underground. Mazurek’s international activities subsequently established him as a prolific composer and industrious bandleader.

It was the release of Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra (Thrill Jockey, 2008), Mazurek’s fortuitous collaboration with vanguard trumpeter Bill Dixon, that confirmed his credentials as a visionary avant-gardist. The equally enthralling Matter Anti-Matter (caught on tape in 2009 and issued by Rogue Art in 2013) followed, pairing the Orchestra with iconic AACM multi-instrumentalist Roscoe Mitchell. Recorded at the 2013 Jazz em Agosto Festival in Portugal, Spiral Mercury continues Mazurek’s practice of working with venerated masters, featuring members of the Chicago Underground and São Paulo Underground supporting none other than tenor titan Pharoah Sanders.

In contrast to the Rogue Art set, in which Mitchell was an invited guest, Pharoah & The Underground is a working band and Spiral Mercury is its debut, featuring Sanders as the primary soloist. Sanders’ infamously histrionic delivery has matured over the years into a burnished lyricism reminiscent of his former employer, John Coltrane, but his expressive potential remains undiminished, as demonstrated on the title track, where he unleashes spiraling cadences that ascend from plangent refrains to fervent multiphonic cries. Mazurek makes an apt foil for the revered saxophonist throughout the set, his protean versatility encompassing everything from coruscating fusillades to hushed motifs.

Underpinning the muscular frontline, Matthew Lux’s throbbing electric bass lines and Chad Taylor’s nimble trap set work provide pliant rhythms for Mauricio Takara’s amplified cavaquinho and Guilherme Granado’s analog synth ruminations, coalescing in a psychedelic bitches brew. The Dark Prince’s influence can be heard in the episodic drama of “Gna Toom,” whereas the mutant funk of “The Ghost Zoo” suggests an electro-acoustic reinvention of the New Thing’s torrid expressionism.

The majority of the program consists of extended variations on some of Mazurek’s most resilient tunes. In addition to the titular cut, which is culled from the Pulsar Quartet’s Stellar Pulsations (Delmark, 2012), the groove-laden “Blue Sparks From Her” originally appeared on the Chicago Underground Duo’s Synesthesia (Thrill Jockey, 2000), while the lively “Pigeon” and anthemic “Jagoda’s Dream” were first documented on São Paulo Underground’s Três Cabeças Loucuras (Cuneiform, 2011).

Masterfully balancing abstract concepts with accessible forms, Mazurek conveys his innovative experiments in an adventurous but approachable manner; this is music that truly sings the body electric. Even with its slightly raw live sound, Spiral Mercury is an excellent example of his oeuvre, fully realized by the vital contributions of his longstanding sidemen and one living legend.
Track Listing: Gna Toom; Spiral Mercury; Blue Sparks From Her; Asasumamehn; Pigeon; Jagoda’s Dream; The Ghost Zoo.


Jazz.pt review by Gonçalo Falcão

CF300LPPharoah & The Underground – Primative Jupiter (CF 300 LP) / Spiral Mercury (CF 301)
Em boa hora (2009) a Gulbenkian começou a permitir a edição de alguns dos seus concertos no Jazz em Agosto. Pena é que esta ideia não tenha começado em 1983, para podermos hoje ter discos de elevadíssima qualidade gravados no Anfiteatro ao Ar Livre. Circulam cópias de alguns desses concertos na Internet (Sun Ra, por exemplo), dando a perceber que se perderam notáveis registos musicais.

Os dois novos itens da Jazz em Agosto Series da Clean Feed são um CD e um LP de Pharoah & The Underground, e apesar da mesma capa, o compacto e o vinil têm conteúdos diferentes, pois as quase duas horas de concerto possibilitaram a partição: o LP “Primative Jupiter”) traz dois temas que não estão no CD e este (“Spiral Mercury”) cinco que não se encontram na outra edição. Más notícias para os bolsos.

O concerto que encerrou o festival do ano passado (e que esteve em dúvida devido a problemas de saúde do histórico saxofonista) juntou Pharoah Sanders a uma formação que fundiu o Chicago e o São Paulo Underground (ambos os grupos liderados pelo cornetista e compositor Rob Mazurek).

Mazurek é o centro de toda a acção, não só pelas suas gigantescas capacidade melódica e inteligência musical – o seu ouvido, em suma – como enquanto estratega, capaz de visionar ideias para palco. As duas formações têm personalidades muito diferentes: na São Paulo Underground predomina a electrónica “lo-fi”, suja e em reprocessamento dos sons da música popular brasileira (cavaquinho, cuíca), com uma expressividade completamente nova (ou seja, não colada ao estereótipo brasileiro). Já o Chicago Underground gosta de territórios completamente diferentes, com o baixo eléctrico em linhas repetitivas que prendem toda a música e a bateria a construir uma base infernal, dando sentido às melodias que Mazurek desenvolve.

Ao vivo, os dois grupos adaptaram-se perfeitamente, com os de Chigago a marcarem ritmos e os de São Paulo a aceitá-los, acentuando a componente tímbrica. Ouvido agora com mais detalhe e repetidamente, a impressão inicial – boa – afina-se para melhor. É o cornetista que define os temas e lança a estrutura da melodia, deixando Sanders livre para solar. O jazz “afro-cósmico-espiritual” de Sanders continua a funcionar e o seu sopro permanece lírico e espiritual, mas agora mais discreto e menos interventivo.

O saxofone aparece a espaços, sem muita força, optando muitas vezes por surgir sob o trompete de Mazurek, como se o quisesse acentuar e colorir. Mais próximo do Miles eléctrico do que de Coltrane, Pharoah actua com um radar que capta e desenvolve ideias. Usa muitas vezes linhas melódicas longas e tranquilas, como se preferisse surfar aquela onda calmamente do que intervir com solos inflamados, como cabe a uma estrela. O resultado é claramente mais interessante assim, sem o Pharoah que se esperaria (e que o título do disco sugere), mas com uma música globalmente muito boa de ouvir.

É ainda melhor assim porque, em vez de a lenda se museografar, tocando o que já lhe conhecemos e o que dele esperamos, reinventa-se, num contexto diferente, onde passa a ser só mais um. Não é menos lenda por isso, mas é muito mais viva.


Dalston Sound review by Tim Owen

CF301Pharoah & The Underground – Spiral Mercury (CF 301)
Spiral Mercury (Clean Feed) documents a live performance by a group led by Rob Mazurek, with onetime Coltrane sparring partner, original astro traveller and transcriber of the creator’s master plan, tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders prominent in the front line.

While Sanders understandably gets top billing and the lion’s share of kudos, all of the material for this date was composed by cornettist and bandleader, and the ensemble’s other members are all involved in one or other of Mazurek’s Underground Ensembles: Chad Taylor’s the mainstay of the Chicago chapter, Guilherme Granado and Mauricio Takara ditto for São Paulo. Matthew Lux played alongside Mazurek in collaborative powerhouse ensemble Mandarin Movie, and he’s also in Mazurek’s Exploding Star project.

Spiral Mercury documents the set this occasional ensemble played to close the 2013 Jazz em Agosto festival in Portugal.

“Gna Toom” drops the listener straight into a long, contemplative exchange between Sanders and Mazurek, with Matthew Lux playing counterpoint electric bass as Granado’s synths create dazzling aurora coloratura. Drummer Chad Taylor’s emphatic swing uptempo on a cushion of thrumming bass signals a transition to the title movement, briefly taking joint lead with Takara’s cavaquinho. Processing renders this Brazilian ukulele wired, electric. Both maintain parallel threads of variation. A one-off twist of harmolodic melody, straight from Blood Ulmer’s Music Revelation songbook, precedes the first full-throated lead spot for Sanders, and Mazurek responds with an energised solo played out in a three-way with synths and percussion.

Sanders invests his tenor sax with an inimitably characteristic emotive sound. His rich, vocal tone can rise to reedy ululations, or drop to a sandpapered burr. Though his fiercest playing is surely behind him, his innate musicality, and his ability to trace and extrapolate melodic figures from the grain of any ensemble music are heard here to full effect.

“Blue Sparks from Her” begins with Mazurek’s processed cornet pealing out of an electro-acoustic haze. But a repeat figure from the cavaquinho invites pulsing bass and another buoyant rhythm with swing feel, and the piece consolidates as a limber, propulsive number with fine lead soloing and synths in electric piano mode. Mazurek and Sanders’ ravishing tonal blend is emphasised on the breakdown, illuminated by glinting mbira (thumb piano).

Chad Taylor’s mbira carries a transition into the gorgeously low-key “Asasumamehn”, shaded first by Sanders then Mazurek. This piece initially evokes Sander’s playing with Moroccan musicians, but becomes ever more abstract and evanescent before the gradual transition to “Pigeon”. Here, the rich electro-acoustic processing of Mazurek’s cornet tips the hat to former collaborator Bill Dixon. A subsequent percussion workout breaks into an uptempo groove on a dirty electronic organ riff, studded with sintir (Moroccan Gnawa)-like bass.

Both “Pigeon” and “Jagoda’s Dream” were first heard in very different versions on Sao Paulo Underground‘s Três Cabeças Loucuras (2011, Cuneiform Records). The latter reprises the present set’s predominantly limber, propulsive feel, with the cavaquinho playing off against clavinet-style keys at the next transition, this to the closing movement, where Mazurek’s solo flute again invokes Morocco.

“The Ghost Zoo” initially sets Sanders, at his most brittle, in a dreamlike, changeable cloud of electronics. Mazurek essays a vocal mantra before prompting an oddly modulated passage of free-form experimentation with a switch to cornet. The entropic abstraction, and an absence of rhythmic momentum at the close leaves the music open-ended, and the listener’s ears pricked and receptive.

This is a great set, and it’s good to have Sanders sounding so fine, in such simpatico company, a full half century into his creative evolution.

As for Mazurek, well it’s hard to keep up with Mazurek. In only the five years between two other recent sessions with notable guests—Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra (Thrill Jockey) in 2008 and Rob Mazurek Exploding Star Orchestra Featuring Roscoe Mitchell” (Rogue Art) in 2013—he generated at least fifteen other titles, notably Skull Sessions and Beija Flors Velho E Sujo, also reviewed here.