Tag Archives: Charles Rumback

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

CHARLES RUMBACK – Two Kinds Of Art Thieves (CF 152)
Drummer Charles Rumback’s music is informed by a mild detachment that over the 49 minutes of this CD translates into a kind of gently impassive mood. This makes me picture an extremely controlled person who would not react badly even if someone came and hammered his big toe. The quartet, which features bassist Jason Ajemian and saxophonists Joshua Sclar (tenor) and Greg Ward (alto), moves elegantly and effortlessly, a sluggishly meditative observation of the outside world from an attic’s window. The parallel reeds leave lots of spaces to drums and bass, not only to sustain and dictate the pace but also for having a go in the thematic propositions. Slow swing or sparse pulse belong to the main rules’ list, the musicians looking both pensive and totally unflustered. It’s a bit of a mystery. I detect a lack of significant action: no bloodshed, no trace of sufferance whatsoever. Still, one can’t really say that the record is not agreeable. The decisive factor might reside in the group’s ability in maintaining a cool atmosphere, a late-night reflection deprived of several of the commonplaces typically coupled with this sort of pensiveness. All things considered, this is nothing but an unspectacularly polite jazz album.

Paris Transatlantic review by Clifford Allen

Charles Rumback – Two kinds of Art Thieves  (CF 152)
There has long been an interesting cross-pollination between Chicago’s younger jazz and improvising musicians and the “post-rock” scene that developed in the early 1990s, out of bands like Tortoise and The Sea and Cake. Chicago’s Thrill Jockey label has hosted releases from Rob Mazurek’s Chicago Underground projects and Exploding Star Orchestra (one of which was a collaboration with trumpeter-composer Bill Dixon), as well as veterans Fred Anderson and drummer Robert Barry. Stalwart Chi-town blues and jazz label Delmark has, likewise, released the music of Mazurek and Tortoise’s Jeff Parker alongside more strictly “jazz” young lions. Less well-known than some of his peers, percussionist Charles Rumback (originally from Wichita, Kansas) is one of the busiest avant-rock sidemen in the area, playing with L’altra, Via Tania, and the ambient-improvisation duo Colorlist; Two Kinds of Art Thieves is his debut as a leader.
One might expect the gauzy, filmic textures of Colorlist to work their way into Rumback’s quartet music, so it’s somewhat surprising that Art Thieves is decidedly a jazz record, though the emphasis is on spare group improvisation. Rumback is joined here by alto saxophonist Greg Ward and tenorman Josh Sclar (and for two tracks, bassist Jason Ajemian) on six original compositions. Ten years ago, when Rumback was based in Lawrence, Kansas, his approach showed the influence of such diverse but equally intense sources as Brian Blade, Ben Perowsky and Han Bennink. The antics of bash have given way to a disappearing act, the drummer making laconic use of brushes and sleigh-bells, continually piling up economies around dovetailing alto and tenor. Sclar and Ward are an updated, free-time analogue to Warne Marsh and Gary Foster, cotton purrs and squeals merging into a singular voice. On “Manifesto,” gooey long tones from Ajemian’s bass bolster the pair as Rumback knits the air with mallets and bells. “Four Ruminations” merges slinky repetition in a dark groove behind the saxophonists’ unkempt keening, Ward’s alto rising quickly out of the ambience to chortle and declaim. One couldn’t ask for a stronger debut, and Two Kinds of Art Thieves is a welcome addition to the landscape of young Chicago improvisation.–

Point of Deaparture review by Art Lange

Charles Rumback – Two Kinds Of Art Thieves (CF 152)
Ambient jazz? Post-prog-improv? Not to suggest that Chicago-based drummer Charles Rumback and cohorts have devised a new genre, but there’s a curious stylistic vibe at play here, part gravitational pull and part tectonic drift, that defies the usual categories. Four of the six pieces are credited to Rumback – a youthful veteran of electronica duos, fantasy-folk-rock co-ops, and free jazz forays – but nothing seems crafted or arranged; if anything, simple strategies for spontaneous give-and-take result in an equality of ensemble responsibility. Don’t expect head-and-solo “songs” (as the composer credit calls them) – instead, Rumback and saxophonists Greg Ward (alto) and Joshua Sclar (tenor) construct crossfire schemes in arcs of flowing counterpoint. Sclar and Ward are insistently complementary rather than confrontational (more in the mode of a mellow Marsh and Konitz than an excitable Ammons and Stitt, while sounding nothing at all like either pair), and though over the course of a gradual crescendo may grow briefly agitated (as in the opening “Ice Factory”) inevitably return to a calm, casual, albeit quizzical, demeanor. “Four Ruminations” epitomizes their relationship; as Sclar sets down a snaky ostinato, Ward squalls above, then they switch roles. The prevalent mood is one of tempered lyricism, so the drama that emerges comes from their reciprocity; Rumback is prone to understatement –sustained rolling patterns and nuanced accents – and bassist Jason Ajemian limits himself to harmonic grounding in his sporadic appearances. If, on occasion, it seems as if they are a bit overly cautious, chalk it up to generational preference. Some new influences are at work here.

All About Jazz Italy review by Enrico Bettinello

Charles Rumback – Two Kinds of Art Thieves (CF 152)
Che la scena creativa di Chicago sia ricchissima di talento è un fatto piuttosto risaputo, anche se non va dimenticato che da sempre la Windy City ha trovato anche in giornalisti, associazioni e etichette di tutto il mondo un’attenzione sempre viva: ne è un esempio questo disco della portoghese Clean Feed a nome del batterista Charles Rumback [componente della Lightbox Orchestra di Fred Longberg-Holm], musicista che in questa prima prova da leader ha voluto con sé – in una tipica conformazione a due sassofoni e senza strumento armonico – l’altrettanto sconosciuto Joshua Sclar al tenore e due promesse ormai affermate come l’altista Greg Ward e il contrabbassista Jason Ajemian.

Le sei composizioni del disco esplorano differenti mood e interazioni collettive, ma con una certa propensione all’astrazione che si affida troppo alla sensibilità dei singoli componenti e sembra invece un po’ meno consistente dal punto di vista dell’efficacia espressiva. Non è tanto la mancanza di temi significativi, quanto piuttosto una sorta di continuo vagare esecutivo la cosa che rende il disco meno interessante di quanto potrebbe: i musicisti sono in sintonia [Ward in particolare ha sempre uno sguardo armonico lucido e tagliente] ma il lavoro non ci sembra troppo coinvolgente e non ha l’immediatezza che può avere – tanto per rifarsi a un esempio molto vicino – il quartetto di Mike Reed.

La profonda sintesi dei tanti elementi in gioco [le tradizioni cui Rumback fa riferimento sono chiaramente molte e complesse] viene giocata infatti sul piano di una sensibilità coloristica e angolosa che rimane come sospesa sopra le inquietudini del presente. Non se ne lascia toccare se non dentro una cornice artistica definita e poco immediata e questo, nel mare delle uscite discografiche e web, rischia di non centrare l’obbiettivo.
Comunque una buona band.

Gapplegate review by Grego Edwards

Charles Rumback – Two Kinds of Art Thieves (CF 152)

Drummer Charles Rumback and his Freely Mellow Quartet
Charles Rumback has a new quartet recording out on CD called, interestingly enough, Two Kinds of Art Thieves (Clean Feed). He is joined for this session by Jason Ajemian on bass, Joshua Sclar on tenor sax and Greg Ward on the alto.

This is free improvisation of a decidedly vital yet introspective nature. The two sax interplay of Ward and Sclar is quite interesting and effective. They work together well; the two weave lines in tandem in ways that show they are keenly listening to one another and responding in kind.

This is not music that overwhelms with its intensity, nor is it meant to be. What it does do is create an atmosphere of somewhat somber, sensitive group music making. It will not overawe you. But if you approach it on its own terms it will offer a world of meditative improvisation that many will find quite attractive.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

CF 152Charles Rumback – Two Kinds of Art Thieves (CF 152)
El batería de Chicago Charles Rumback ha publicado Two Kinds of Art Thieves acompañado por el contrabajista Jason Ajemian, y los saxofonistas Joshua Sclar y Greg Ward. Tal y como ocurre con sus carreras, la música de este estreno discográfico recoge referencias ajenas al jazz tan variadas como el post-rock y la electrónica. Aunque la formación de dos saxos, contrabajo y batería pudiera invocar otro tipo de propuestas, la música de Charles Rumback tiene un carácter impresionista en la que los músicos juegan con unos elementos que aunque en algún momento pudieran parecer insignificantes (por su volumen, por su expresividad), se transforman en los protagonisas centrales de una música llena de detalles construidos a partir de unos componentes mínimos. Otra joya más a añadir al catálogo de Clean Feed. http://www.tomajazz.com/bun/2009/11/charles-rumback-two-kinds-of-art.html

All About Jazz review by Mark Corroto

Clean Feed Records eat the plate 
Clean Feed records, founded in 2001, has been the most prolific and adventurous label for jazz this new century. Based in Lisbon, Portugal their offerings have included many of jazz’s old guard including reed players Evan Parker, Paul Dunmall, Charles Gayle, Vinny Golia and Anthony Braxton and trumpeters Dennis Gonzalez and Herb Robertson, along with current innovators bassist Joe Morris and reed players Ken Vandermark, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Tony Malaby, to name just a few.

Clean Feed’s reach seemingly has no bounds, featuring the greatest players alongside new names in jazz. As with the Blue Note or Impulse! jazz labels of the 1960s, listeners can be assured a consistent presentation of high quality music no matter if the name on the album cover is familiar or not.

CF 150Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet – Things Have Got To Change (CF 150)
Saxophonist Marty Ehrlich has been a mainstay of the New York jazz scene for decades. He founded the Dark Woods Ensemble and has recorded with everyone from pianist Andrew Hill to saxophonists John Zorn and Ehrlich’s hero, saxophonist Julius Hemphill. Of late, he has been producing long thematic works. This quartet session is a bit of a change, a variety of shorter pieces that delight the ears with crisp solos and swinging interplay.

The cast includes familiar and distinctive players negotiating five tracks by Ehrlich and three from Hemphill. Hemphill’s compositions are joyfully produced, with the semi-classic “Dogon A.D.” acting as the anchor here. The band, solidified behind drummer Pheeroan AkLaff who negotiates the bluesy piece as a bouncy vehicle for each solo. Ehlrich’s coughing alto aligns with Eric Friedlander’s cello in syncopation to the beats. Elsewhere, the cello offers that slightly different (from a bass) feel on the track “On The One,” that makes this music feel as if it has a mind to be a chamber ensemble, but with the recklessness of a nightclub band. Maybe it is the untamed trumpet work of James Zollar that keeps the music real. This is one of those special recordings that begs for more.

CF 151Samuel Blaser – Pieces Of The Old Sky (CF 151)
Swiss-born, New York-trained Berlin resident trombonist Samuel Blaser begins his Clean Feed debut with a 17-minute meditation by his quartet of Todd Neufeld (guitar), Thomas Morgan (bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums). The dreamlike and ponderous pace acts as a slow motion series of features for brooding trombone and guitar. Likewise, “Madala” stirs emotions by way of its deliberateness and pace-building for tension. Sorey is the suitable choice for the drum seat. He has developed a knack for playing that is beyond jazz, using his kit as a frontline player. Both “Red Hook” and “Speed Game” up the ante, elevating the pace and forcing a bit more tension into the music. Blaser responds with shorter thoughts and tighter solos, but those flowing notes remain.

CF 157Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157)
Canadian-born drummer Harris Eisenstadt is quickly becoming known as a modern jazz composer/arranger to watch. His work is thoroughly modern, with elements of West African drumming. His music is reminiscent of the innovations saxophonist Wayne Shorter was introducing in the 1960s on Blue Note. His Quintet Canada Day concentrates on group improvisation, forwarding the individual sounds of saxophonist Matt Bauder, vibraphonist Chris Dingman, trumpeter Nate Wooley and bassist Eivind Opsvik to bear on these eight compositions.

The quintet negotiates the drummer’s penchant to change time and rhythmic patterns within a song while maintaining the groove. “Everyday Is Canada Day” begins with dreamy vibes before the band enters, building the song from a simple platform. Wooley’s trumpet solo bumps against the vibes with its temerity and coarseness. Eisenstadt is blending sounds here to great effect, as he does on “After An Outdoor Bath.” He never seems to forget the pleasures of listening when he is making music.

CF 159Nobuyasu Furuya – Bendowa (CF 159)
Lisbon-based saxophonist Nobuyasu Furuya takes a walk around with the saxophone masters of energy jazz: Peter Brotzmann, Frank Lowe and Roscoe Mitchell. Bendowa might have been mistaken for an early AACM recording. The Japanese-born reedsman and flutist plays here in a Portuguese trio with Gabriel Ferrandini (drums) and Hernani Faustino (bass). While the music pushes the outer edge, it never breaks down into a noise-fest. The steady groove of Ferrandini and Faustino allow for Furuya to apply his craft. His tenor on “Track 1” splats big strokes of paint all over the canvas, while “Track 2” finds him playing more traditional sounds (Japanese?) on his flute. The aggressive bass clarinet notes heard on “Track 5” float and dive into the rolling maelstrom of bass and drum animation. This is free jazz, coming from a classically trained reedsman. Maybe this new “new thing” music is the best thing to come from globalization.

CF 155Ze Eduardo Unit – Jazz Ar: Live At Capuchos (CF 155)
A mover and shaker in the Portuguese jazz scene for decades, the bassist Ze Eduardo would be comfortable playing with Han Bennink and the ICP Orchestra, Roy Nathanson’s Jazz Passengers or Steven Bernstein’s Millennium Orchestra. His brand of jazz doesn’t skip humor as an element of the music, and the audience responds affirmatively on this October 2008 live date. His trio, or unit, is composed of tenor saxophonist Jesus Santandreu and drummer Bruno Perdroso, both heard on the previous release A Jazzar no Zeca: A Musica de Jose Afonso (Clean Feed, 2004).

Don’t get the wrong impression, this is serious music making. The band just loves what they do. Their take on “The Simpsons” theme is in no way camp. The band lays down a solid groove, phrasing the familiar cartoon theme here as they do with other cartoons characters here. Their “serious” music includes the coughing interludes on “Abelha Maia” that never miss a beat between bits and pieces of “Santa Lucia.” This agreeable recording is music making at the highest level, it just happens to be very jocular.

CF 156Pinton / Kullhammar / Zetterberg / Nordstrom – Chant (CF 156)
From Sweden comes a quartet of improvisors that were assembled for a series of concerts and this recording. All four have played together in various ensembles, but this combination, a “power” ensemble, displays a tenacity that yields special results. The musicians are saxophonists Alberto Pinton and Jonas Kullhammar, bassist Torbjörn Zetterberg and drummer Kjell Nordeson. The piano-less quartet effects a harmonious sound from the baritone and tenor combination on the majority of tracks. Pinton and Kullhammar make this a friendly competition for space and solos, exercising sonic demons on “Chantpagne,” as the timekeepers Zetterberg and Nordeson keep the pulse and intensity level quite high. The possibilities for this music are boundless. The pliant dueling baritones march to “Den Stora Vantan” while all the music making is done by the drummer.

The obvious homage here, “Cross/For Bluiett,” has saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett’s outward jazz vision in mind as it sails a chamber blues into the audience’s ears. The band ends with “Mount Everest,” a direct reference to the Swedish free jazz band of the same name whose passion for saxophonists Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman are shared by our heroes. The wow-factor is increased with every track heard on this excellent disc.

CF 158Julio Resende – Assim Falava Jazzatustra (CF 158)
The unforgettable pianist Julio Resende performs this live set in Lisbon with his band and a few special guests. Assim Falava Jazzatustra follows his 2007 release Da Alma (Clean Feed). Here he summons a quartet with the notable Spanish saxophonist Perico Sambeat and the most excellent Swedish bassist Ole Morten Vagan. The music is a blend of rhythmic and percussive jazz that is instantly agreeable. Resende’s piano can at times give off the Cuban vibe, as on “Perico Sambeat,” or a classical sound, as on “Ir F Voltar.” On the latter track the band is joined by vocalist Manuela Azevedo from the pop band Cla. The band’s rocked-out take on “Boom!” finds Resende’s piano ringing bell-like throughout. He plies the keyboard with such a predatory feel here. In contrast, his cover of the Pink Floyd song “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is elegant and sanguine as he negotiates the nostalgic piece. Worth the price of admission to that concert, his rendering of that classic song is priceless.

CF 152Charles Rumback – Two Kinds Of Art Thieves (CF 152)
Chicago drummer Charles Rumback leads a quartet of like minded musicians on a very introspective album. Rumback is a member of bands varying from post-rock to electronica, including Colorlist, The Horse’s Ha and Fred Lonberg-Holm’s Lightbox Orchestra. Here he employs bassist Jason Ajemian (Dragons 1976, Rob Mazurek, Bill Dixon), tenor saxophonist Greg Ward (Mike Reed’s Loose Assembly, People Places & Things) and alto saxophonist Joshua Sclar (Westport Art Ensemble). The music is characterised by paced, even-keeled, small gestures of sound. Often Rumback is playing quiet fingers on his drums while the saxophonists whisper notes in exchanges that are more late-night conversation than trading fours. The music, thoroughly composed, prefers to make its case with quiet gesticulation and soft melody. The slightest sound makes a large impact here. An impressive debut.

CF 154Weightless – A Brush With Dignity (CF 154)
These live dates from October 2008 in Germany mark the coming together of UK artistsJohn Butcher (saxophones) and John Edwards (bass) and Italians Alberto Braida (piano) and Fabrizio Spera (drums). All four had played together in varying combinations before, but the Weightless tour of Italy and Germany was their first as a complete unit. The natural combination of saxophone, piano, bass and drums gives listeners an accustomed lineup, but the music making (as you might not be surprised) is far from traditional.

The disc opens with “Apre,” a stellar piece of energy jazz that builds momentum as the players trade off duos and solos. What is remarkable here is the distribution of sound. A mark of seasoned players, the music is never crowded: all parts are distinctive and can be set apart in listener’s ears. Quite the feat for instantly composed music. The remaining tracks settle into an agreeable sense of interplay. Butcher is more inclined towards his extended techniques and the others follow suit. As with all free music, different parts are compelling for different listeners. The live (in concert) experience is quite unlike that of the recorded listen. That said this is a fine recorded listening experience.

Free Jazz review by Stef

CF 152Charles Rumback – Two Kinds Of Art Thieves (CF 152)
Clean Feed really is the label that spots most of the upcoming talent: here again, Chicagoan drummer Charles Rumback gets a chance for his debut release with a band consisting of the double sax front of Joshua Sclar on tenor and Greg Ward on alto, and with Jason Ajemian on double bass. The music is interesting for a variety of reasons. First, because the compositions integrate elements of a non-jazz origin easily, in a typical post-modern fashion (is that what he means by the one kind of art thieve in the title?). Second, because the music is totally unlike what you would expect from a drummer, whose role is fully in support of the two horns that slowly build the music. I almost wrote “reducing his role”, but that’s not the case: the accents, the rumblings, the rolls, play a quite important part in the overall atmosphere, adding color and drama to the slowly evolving dialogues rather than rhythmic support. The music itself is impressionistic, very gentle and sensitive to sound quality, with the saxes playing almost without air pressure, like a light breeze, barely touching you, but touching you all the same. But not only Ward and Sclar, but also Ajemian’s arco is precize and pure. Things get a little more agitated with “Four Ruminations”, on which a mid-tempo repetitive sax riff is the core around which the rest of the music evolves, but with the next track the now familiar calm development returns. Rumback managed to create his own voice with a first release : subtle and sensitive, with lots of attention to the overall sound, really sounding like the early impressionist painters : you still see the figures, but barely, the apparently random soft colors create a shining and warm vision, which becomes the dominant feeling of the listening experience.

The Stash Dauber review

Clean Feed Records
Like a candygram from the gods to start a three-day weekend, a package appeared in my mailbox bearing what looks like the entahr September release from Clean Feed Records, the Portuguese label that’s doing an exemplary job of becoming for the millennial decade what Blue Note, Impulse, and BYG Actuel were for the ’60s and Black Saint, India Navigation, and Arista Freedom were for the ’70s — that is to say, home to a plethora of interestingly-conceived and well-executed jazz releases of the forward-looking variety. (Also, my sweetie points out, they’re packaged in attractive and environmentally-responsible paper sleeves.) These discs are a testament not only to the music’s continuing vitality, but also to its internationalism, reminding us (if such reminders are needed) that the days of American jazz hegemony are long gone.

CF 150Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet – Things Have Got to Change (CF 150)
To begin with, Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet is led by the Minnesota-born altoist who spent his formative years in St. Louis, where he was mentored by Black Artsts Group members Julius Hemphill and Oliver Lake before attending the New England Conservatory and studying under Jaki Byard. The debt to Fort Worth expat Hemphill is freely acknowledged on Things Have Got To Change, with Ehrlich and Co. essaying three of his compositions, including the monumental “Dogon A.D.,” a blues-drenched theme in 11/16. Drummer Pheeroan Aklaff has performed with Ehrlich since the ’70s. Trumpeter James Zollar is equally effective on open or muted horn, while cellist Erik Friedlander is particularly noteworthy, soloing with deft, guitar-like pizzicato lines on the opening “Rites Rhythms.” Among Ehrlich’s compositions, the lovely, elegiac “Some Kind of Prayer” particularly shines.

CF 155Zé Eduardo Unit – A Jazzar Live in Capuchos (CF 155)
Ze’ Eduardo Unit’s A Jazzar – Live in Capuchos is a concert recording by a bassist-led Portuguese trio whose previous releases include homages to Portuguese cinema, musician-activist Jose Afonso (whose “Grandola” is the subject of an extended extemporization here), and animated cartoons (the most familiar to American ears probably being their deconstruction of Danny Elfman’s theme from The Simpsons, also included here). The musicians’ approach is often playful and humorous in the same way that, say, Ornette’s music can be, and Ze’ Eduardo’s deep song on bass recalls Charlie Haden’s. At other times, he and his bandmates — tenorman Jesus Santandreu and drummer Bruno Pedroso — can be dark and intense; they’re always adventurous and engaging.

CF 151Samuel Blaser Quartet – Pieves of old Sky (CF 151)
More minimalist in intent is Pieces of Old Sky by the Samuel Blaser Quartet, a New York-based crew led by a Swiss trombonist. Blaser’s an expressive instrumentalist who’s absorbed the influence of players like Albert Mangelsdorf (dig his growls and use of multiphonics on “Mandala”) but really shines as a composer; his writing is as interestingly knotty and impressionistic as Andrew Hill’s, displaying the influence of modern classical composers. His best compositions — the 17-minute title track, for instance, or the aforementioned “Mandala” — unfold slowly but deliberately, giving the players ample opportunity to interact within their structures. His accomplices here include Todd Neufeld, an Abercrombie-esque guitarist with a warm, fuzzy, and occasionally dissonant sound, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey, who’s probably best known for his work with pianist Vijay Iyer. Sorey’s drumming is reminiscent of early Tony Williams, when the teenage Bostonian was was still playing like a composer and hadn’t yet succumbed to being a mere virtuoso; just listen to the way Sorey shadows the leader’s line on “Mystical Circle.”

CF 157Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157)
Also currently based in New York, drummer Harris Eisenstadt is proud to be Canadian — so much so that he’s dubbed his new band and album Canada Day, after the Great White North’s version of the Fourth of July. Eisenstadt’s a thoughtful composer as well as a thunderous trap-kicker; his record has an Out to Lunch/Point of Departure feel, anchored by Chris Dingman’s vibes (recorded with magnificent presence and clarity by Michael Brorby at Brooklyn’s Acoustic Recording). On the opening “Don’t Gild the Lily,” trumpeter Nate Wooley’s muted smears and long tones emit enough harmonics to sound almost like an analog synth; he and big-toned tenorman Matt Bauder are agile and inventive improvisers, but the standout in the ensemble just might be bassist Eivind Opsvik. Eisenstadt’s “Kategeeper” is somewhat reminiscent of Ennio Morricone’s theme from The Untouchables.

CF 159Nobuyasu Furuya Trio – Bendowa (CF 159)
Nobuyasu Furuya Trio’s Bendowa is an anomaly — a set of explosive free improv played by a Lisbon-based Japanese reedman and his Euro (Italian?) rhythm section. On tenor, Furuya moves a big column of air to get a burry, braying tone a la Archie Shepp in his Four for Trane period. On flute, can be introspective, almost Zen-like — reflective, perhaps, of his youthful sojourn in the kitchen of a Buddhist temple — or fiery, singing through his instrument like Roland Kirk. On bass clarinet, he’s plaintive and searching, only rarely begging the inevitable Dolphy comparisons. Furuya switches between axes the way Sam Rivers used to in his ’70s small groups, but within a more concise format (the tracks here average about nine minutes). Behind him, Hernani Faustino on bass and Gabriel Ferrandini on drums back their leader to the hilt, whether he’s whispering or screaming. They alternately expand to fill every interstice in the music or recede to leave space that throws each sonic event into bolder relief.

CF 158
Julio Resende – Assim Falava Jazzatustra (CF 158)
Twentysomething Lisbon pianist Julio Resende’s Assim Falava Jazzatustra is an eclectic effort, propelled by the kickin’ tag team of bassist Ole Morten Vagan and drummer Joel Silva. The infectious “Sakatwala (Progressive Kuduro for My Family)” — an example of the hybrid African/Afro-Caribbean ’80s style that originated in the former Portuguese colony of Angola — is nearly as danceable as Henry Threadgill’s “Try Some Ammonia.” On “Ir e Voltar,” Manuela Azevedo sings Resende’s opaque melody over shimmering piano chords that bristle with menace. Like The Bad Plus essaying Nirvana, Resende takes on Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” as a solo showcase, then follows it with a number (“Boom!”) that utilizes heavy rock dynamics. “Caixa Registadora,” on the other hand, grooves like a classic early ’60s Blue Note funk jam, while “Jazz.Pt” (named for the local Downbeat equivalent) pays homage to the freebop side of that classic label. Resende’s is a distinctive, if developing, voice.

CF 156

Pinton / Kullhammar / Zetterberg / Nordeson – Chant (CF 156)
Speaking of internationalism, Alberto Pinton’s an Italian-born reedman who lives in Sweden. On Chant, he leads a quartet that includes two, count ’em, two baritone saxes. (One of the tunes is a fitting dedication to Hamiet Bluiett.) Pinton doubles on clarinet, his collaborator Jonas Kullhammar on tenor. The two hornmen and the rhythm section (Torbjorn Zetterberg on bass, Kjell Nordeson on drums) have played together in various combinations and contexts; here, they lay down a set of nasty freeblow that’s equal parts composition and invention. Of course, what sounds like a blast from a mid-’70s Lower Manhattan loft is really a natural outgrowth of the Euro free jazz scene that’s thrived since the mid-’60s. (But thank Ayler, Cecil, and Ornette for visiting Scandinavia back then, yo.) These guys have a nicely self-aware sensahumour, too; one tune’s entitled “How Much Can You Take In One Evening?” The somber tone poem “Let Ring” features Nordeson on vibes is a surprising dynamic shift that grabs the listener’s attention.

CF 154
Weightless – A Brush with Dignity (CF 154)

Weightless is a cooperative group that brings together a pair of Britons (saxophonist John Butcher and bassist John Edwards) and a couple of Italians (pianist Alberto Braida and drummer Fabrizio Spera). All four are veterans of the Euro free music scene: Butcher has played with Derek Bailey and in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Edwards with Evan Parker; they first performed with Spera and then added Braida to make a quartet. Their collective improvisations on A Brush With Dignity teem with inspiration and energy and are not for the faint-hearted. In “Centri,” for example, different episodes feature the pure organic sounds of strings, skins, and reeds, as well as surreal space sounds that seem electronically generated but are actually produced by using extended techniques on the same instruments. “Vista” ventures even further outside the realm of tonality. The most challenging listen of the discs reviewed here, A Brush With Dignity is also among the most rewarding.

CF 152Charles Rumback – Two Kinds Of Art Thieves (CF 152)
Finally, Two Kinds of Art Thieves is the debut as leader of Charles Rumback, a Chicago drummer with strong avant-jazz, alt-rock, and electronica credentials. Rumback’s quartet boasts a two-sax front line that includes altoist Greg Ward, whose work I recently dug on About Us by Mike Reed’s People, Places and Things (on 482 Music, another label that’s doing yeoman work in documenting contemporary creative music). Ward and tenorman Joshua Sclar play the same kind of intertwining contrapuntal lines that he and Tim Haldeman did on the Reed disc, although here it’s in a more ruminative context. Rumback’s often on mallets, providing punctuation or percussive undertones more than pulse for his compositions. The cover art of a gaggle of business-suited Asians facing the sea is appropriate; the music on Two Kinds of Art Thieves evokes the oceanic feeling one gets regarding an overcast sky that native Chicagoans must get to experience often.

All in all, then, a worthy stack of discs from a label whose output is notable for its consistent quality, and further proof (if more is needed) that rumors of the “death of jazz” have been greatly exaggerated.

Ejazznews review by Glenn Astarita

CF 152Charles Rumback – Two Kinds of Art Thieves (CF 152)
On his debut solo effort, drummer Charles Rumback and fellow proponents of Chicago’s fertile progressive-jazz and improvisational scene bypass conventional norms throughout this curiously interesting endeavor. Somewhat animated in scope, the music iterated here features the dual sax attack of Joshua Sclar (tenor) and Greg Ward (alto), all firmed up by bassist Jason Ajemian’s loose and pliant bottom-end. 

The quartet varies the overall pitch with either riotous free-form interplay or when engaged in probing choruses, enamored by the saxophonists’ yearning lines and soulful exchanges. However, it’s not just a knockdown, drag-out, free-jazz blowing session by any stretch. In effect, the musicians think more about artistic expression, as opposed to embarking upon a relentless pursuit of technical bravado.

During many of these climactically engineered passages, Rumback executes lightly rolling tom patterns to present an expansive backdrop for the soloists’ lyrically rich phrasings, often coated with vocal attributes. They dive into cavernous lows, and sonorous theme-building exercises, while traversing through hidden valleys and occasionally into movements that spark notions of a self-healing process. But they up the ante with a keen sense of the dynamic. And they finalize the set with a buoyant jazz dirge motif on “We Left Green Briar Park.” Loaded with gusto and verve, Rumback also layers a transcendental aura within these pieces. It’s music with a distinct persona, unlike many other offerings of this ilk.