Tag Archives: City of Asylum

Mercury News Best of 2013 list by Richard Scheinin

I’ve been listening to jazz since age 14, and here I am, 45 years later, feeling as mesmerized as ever. Over the past year, I’ve received scores of albums, listened with care to as many as I possibly could, and gradually boiled them down toward this Top 10 list. It includes names familiar (Miles Davis) and not so familiar (Jamie Baum), as well as names that you may find on the tip of your tongue (Cécile McLorin Salvant, a singer who’s been getting loads of media attention).

I’m continually struck by the virtuosity, imagination and heart of jazz musicians, by their ability to make sense of influences from far and wide. Yet to one degree or another, their music — even if they can’t stand Wynton Marsalis — tends to reflect a phrase coined by Marsalis years ago: “The Majesty of the Blues.” A breadth of feeling, an African-American rootedness.

1. Aaron Parks, “Alive in Japan” (free download)
This piano trio disc is my album of the year; I can’t stop listening. It sings, explores, bursts with Bud Powell joy. Put on your headphones, then stride down the street to the rhythms of “Con Alma.” You’ll feel restored. And, yes, the pianist (who recorded the album on his iPhone) is giving it away at http://aaronparks.bandcamp.com/album/alive-in-japan.

2. Clifford Jordan, “The Complete Clifford Jordan Strata-East Sessions” (Mosaic)
Jordan was a master of bebop and blues with a feathery touch; his saxophone sound can break your heart. This six-CD set is a time capsule from the late ’60s and early ’70s, a crackling and creative era for jazz. It includes Jordan’s classic albums for musician-owned Strata-East Records, along with rare sessions he produced by bebop saxophonist Cecil Payne as well as visionaries Pharoah Sanders, Ed Blackwell, Charles Brackeen and Wilbur Ware. My favorite track: “Vienna” (from “Clifford Jordan in the World”), a waltz that powerfully spills over with drama, thanks to its counterintuitive mix of players. They include Jordan, pianist Wynton Kelly and trumpeter Don Cherry, whose cascades and smears fall like tears.

3. Orrin Evans, —… It Was Beauty” (Criss Cross Jazz)
Pianist Evans has patiently moved his music to a point where influences converge: swing, free-form, R&B tunefulness and church-based soul. His trio, with bassist Eric Revis and drummer Donald Edwards, can swing with locomotive momentum. But this locomotive also has a stick shift; the trio glides through the smoothest change-ups in time and feel, taking curves, stripping things down so that the smallest gestures ring out. It’s a formidable album.

4. Cécile McLorin Salvant, “Woman Child” (Mack Avenue)
Only 24 years old? She echoes Bessie, Billie, Betty Carter and — who knows? — just may take it to the next step. Don’t miss this new singer, who brings humor, deep-felt understanding and some outrageousness to the tradition. “You can sit down with this music and intellectualize it, like the great European repertory,” she told me this past summer, “and then the next moment throw the table down and just dance to it — that’s something that I find absolutely brilliant.”

5. Charnett Moffett, “The Bridge: Solo Bass Works” (Motema)
From Duke to Mingus to spirituals to Sting: 20 tunes, nothing but solo acoustic bass. This album is a lesson in concentrated vision, in charisma, power and out-of-the-box thinking. You get a sense of why so many band leaders (Wynton Marsalis, McCoy Tyner, Ornette Coleman, Sting) have called on Moffett since he was a teenager.

6. Aaron Diehl, “The Bespoke Man’s Narrative” (Mack Avenue)
An impeccable pianist with deep roots in the tradition, Diehl’s a radical-retro young guy spearheading a quartet that bespeaks excellence. This music wouldn’t exist without Duke Ellington and Ahmad Jamal, the MJQ and Wynton Marsalis, but its elegance and precision, and its spontaneous combustions, are all its own.

7. Miles Davis, “Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2” (Columbia Legacy)
This is the so-called “last great quintet,” with Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. In hindsight, electric Davis and his bandmates were avant-gardists — with street cred. Crazy, churning, fantastic sounds on these three discs, plus DVD.

CF 2778. Eric Revis, “City of Asylum” (Clean Feed)
More than Branford Marsalis’ bassist, Revis is among the most broad-minded of jazz musicians. This date with pianist Kris Davis and drummer Andrew Cyrille is stunning; it quickly/quietly sucks you into its free-jazz vortex.

9. Nicholas Payton, “Sketches of Spain” (BMF)
The trumpeter reinterprets the Miles Davis/Gil Evans classic, performing the suite with his band and members of the Sinfonieorchester Basel, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. Payton is the trumpeter of the day, a virtuoso and a risk-taker. You never know what he’ll do next — what mood he’ll conjure, what effect he’ll tease from his horn.

10. Jamie Baum, “In This Life” (Sunnyside)
You listen and sense the flutist/composer’s wide-ranging influences: music of North Africa and South Asia, Zappa, minimalism, funk, the impressionism of Gil Evans. She musters them into sleek and raucous new grooves, beautifully arranged for her septet (which expands on some tracks to as many as 11 players). The superb soloists include trumpeters Amir ElSaffar and Taylor Haskins, pianist John Escreet and Baum herself. There’s freshness and excitement here.

The New York Times Best of 2013 List by Nate Chinen

1. Craig Taborn Trio “Chants” (ECM)
The deep, seductive intelligence at work in “Chants,” Craig Taborn’s first piano trio album in a dozen years, suggests an ocean of influences distilled into an original potion. Unpacking his terse compositions in communion with the bassist Thomas Morgan and the drummer Gerald Cleaver, Mr. Taborn gives each oblique maneuver a purpose, and often a flicker of intrepid grace.

2. Wayne Shorter Quartet“Without a Net” (Blue Note)
The postbop sage Wayne Shorter has made volatility a trademark of his quartet, to the extent that its concerts can feel like enigmas to be parsed. Here we only have choice moments that put his saxophone at the center of a drama shaped by developing insights from Danilo Pérez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums.

3. Bill Callahan “Dream River” (Drag City)
On his strongest album (and there have been some really good ones lately), Mr. Callahan applies his dark, dry baritone to a bundle of songs about love and death and luck and motion, using ordinary language to extraordinary ends. His ruminative deadpan meets a deceptively simple backdrop: some masterly guitar work, some drums and flute, all put together with sly serenity.

4. Andy Bey “The World According to Andy Bey” (HighNote)
Mr. Bey, a songbook savant now approaching his mid-70s, has already recorded memorably in the solo piano-and-vocal format. But this album finds him in extravagantly fine form, not only embroidering standards but also singing his own perceptive and idiosyncratic songs in a still-limber voice that should be registered with the Smithsonian.

5. Ashley Monroe “Like a Rose” (Warner Bros. Nashville)
A quiet stunner of a country album, full of traditional-sounding songs that refuse to recoil from uncomfortable realities; the title phrase holds the implication of a survival badge. Ms. Monroe’s singing is soft and clear, subversive precisely in its sweetness.

6. Dave Douglas Quintet “Time Travel” (Greenleaf)
The trumpeter Dave Douglas formed a smart new quintet last year, and along with a beautiful album of hymns, it created this knockabout winner, capitalizing on the diversity of a roster with the saxophonist Jon Irabagon, the pianist Matt Mitchell, the bassist Linda Oh and the drummer Rudy Royston.

CF 2777. Eric Revis, Kris Davis, Andrew Cyrille “City of Asylum” (Clean Feed)
Three generations of improvisers from far-flung aesthetic coordinates — Mr. Revis, a bassist; Ms. Davis, a pianist; and Mr. Cyrille, a drummer — devoted most of their first album to a free-form expedition, testing every premise and taking nothing for granted.

8. Chris Potter “The Sirens” (ECM)
Heroic proficiency has never been a problem for Mr. Potter, the tenor saxophonist. Impressively, this album, inspired by “The Odyssey,” is more a study in reflection than exertion, with exquisite ballad work and plenty of shifting texture, much of it conjured by a pair of brilliant pianists, Craig Taborn and David Virelles.

9. Earl Sweatshirt “Doris” (Tan Cressida/Columbia)
Not the only painfully self-aware album this year by a rapper of intoxicating skills — just the least opportunistic, and the most credibly human. The brisk wordplay, the stoner cadence, the stylish production, the tightknit crew: none of it puts Mr. Sweatshirt at ease, and for now that’s just fine.

10. Cécile McLorin Salvant “WomanChild” (Mack Avenue)
This American debut of an arresting young jazz vocalist allows for comparison to Abbey Lincoln and Sarah Vaughan (and for bonus points, Valaida Snow), but that’s not its end game. Ms. Salvant has designs on a trickster’s kind of traditionalism — and the right trio, led by the scholarly pianist Aaron Diehl, to play her straight man.

Glide Magazine review by Doug Collette

CF 277Eric Revis/City of Asylum (CF 277)
Establishing an intense state of collective concentration with the downbeat that begins the first track, it’s simple to see how Eric Revis has remained a stalwart within The Branford Marsalis Quintet for sixteen years. With Andrew Cyrille on drums and Kris Davis on piano, the bassist makes great strides in developing his own personality with this album as the three musicians usually prefer to dive directly into the dissection of rhythm and melody; this approach makes for challenging listening to be sure, but for the listener who relishes detailed improvisation, a most rewarding experience.


The Whole Note review by Stuart Broomer

In the spirit that jazz is increasingly an international language, this month’s collection of CDs emphasizes that dialogue, from American guests turning up on Canadian musicians’ CDs to Canadian expatriates who are members of a global community.

CF 275Lama + Chris Speed – Lamaçal (CF 275)
Drummer Greg Smith went to Europe with Toronto’s Shuffle Demons in the mid-90s and decided to stay there, taking up residence in Holland. Among his current projects is a Rotterdam-based band called Lama with Portuguese trumpeter Susana Santos Silva and bassist Gonçalo Almeida. The group expands to Lama + Chris Speed with the addition of the New York saxophonist and clarinettist for Lamaçal (Clean Feed CF 275 cleanfeed-records.com), a live performance from the Portalegre Jazz Festival. This is lively creative music that delights in detailed close interaction amid a mix of unusual sonic textures: suggestions of village brass bands, Middle-Eastern scales, electronic loops and whale sounds abound. It even combines old-fashioned New Orleans polyphony with atonality. Smith’s boppish composition Cachalote is highlighted by a duet between the drummer and the mercurial Speed.

CF 277Eric Revis – City of Asylum (CF 277)
Pianist Kris Davis has followed a path from Calgary to Toronto and on to Brooklyn where she has established herself as one of the most creative improvisers of her generation. She appears on bassist Eric Revis’ City of Asylum (Clean Feed CF 277 cleanfeed-records.com) in a piano trio completed by the veteran drummer Andrew Cyrille. The studio session marked the first meeting of the three musicians, but there’s no sense that they’re feeling one another out. There’s aggressive creative interplay in the freely improvised pieces, with a special attention to momentum, the three sometimes developing tremendous swing while pursuing independent rhythms. A playful approach to Thelonious Monk’s Gallop’s Gallop and a reverent one to Keith Jarrett’s Prayer reveal something of the trio’s range and affinities.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

CF 277Eric Revis – City of Asylum (CF 277)
Bassist Eric Revis assembles an all-star piano trio and turns them loose on City of Asylum (Clean Feed 277). Acutely inspired collective improvisation is the order of the day. Revis and his very advanced bass forays, the increasingly ever-present Kris Davis on piano and the fantastic drumming of Andrew Cyrille hold forth for a really nice set that includes one by Jarrett and one by Monk along with a series of very accomplished and adventuresome free journeys.

I don’t believe I’ve heard Kris Davis sound so continually brimming over with ideas and so poised at the same time. This one is a real ear opener for me in that. Eric is right up there with inventive all-over ideas. And Andrew sounds so beautiful, you could certainly listen just to him and get much to appreciate. He plays out-of-time phrasings that perfectly complement the musical proceedings, do not repeat and are models of inventive freetime.

This one is a piano trio triumph in the free zone. It makes me smile! You must hear it.

The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

CF 277Eric Revis – City of Asylum (CF 277)
Eric Revis has worked across a broad spectrum of jazz, from mainstream to free, from his emergence with Betty Carter in the ‘90s and tenure in the Branford Marsalis Quartet to recent collaborations with Peter Brötzmann and Ken Vandermark. While that kind of varied career testifies to competence and flexibility, there’s something far more compelling in Revis’ music: a sheer force of personality that demands outlet. Here he finds a kind of free-jazz middle ground in a trio with pianist Kris Davis and drummer Andrew Cyrille, playing together for the first time in a recording studio.

Recording a first meeting isn’t that unusual, but it’s particularly difficult in the space in which this group operates. Seven of the ten pieces played here are completely improvised (complemented by a Revis original and tunes by Monk and Keith Jarrett), but they are done so with a special ear for pattern and intuitive structure.

Revis’ bass playing is grounded: though he might take sudden flight into the upper register, he focuses on the low end, creating a solid foundation. The approach finds ideal partners in Davis and Cyrille, Revis’ equals in intensity and spontaneous structure. There’s a profound communication evident in trio music of genuinely equal parts. Working largely without composed structures reveals how fluent an improviser Davis is, playing with an exuberant virtuosity that invites comparison with Don Pullen and Marilyn Crispell. Cyrille, still the consummate free jazz drummer at 73, can generate sufficient force and form to suggest that the band itself is a kind of drum kit, a key to the empathy here in which every instrument sounds like the center of the band.

While the music is always intense, there’s also variety, ranging from the creative flights of “Vadim” to the percussive insistence of “St. Cyr”. For a group that’s so accomplished in a dense, rhythmic dynamism, the trio also whispers very well on the minimalist “Egon” and title track. It’s a creative contrast that bodes well for the trio’s further development.

Jazzflits review by Herman te Loo

CF 277ERIC REVIS – City Of Asylum (CF 277)
In april van dit jaar (JF 196) besprak ik de cd ‘Parallax’ van bas-sist Eric Revis. Een van de conclusies was toen dat hij zich somsin veelzijdigheid dreigde te verliezen, en blijkbaar heeft hij datin zijn oren geknoopt. De muziek op zijn nieuwste album, ‘CityOf Asylum’, blinkt namelijk uit in een sterk programma, uitge-voerd door een subliem pianotrio. Aan het klavier vinden we KrisDavis, van wie ik onlangs ook al het verfrissende album‘Capricorn Climber’ besprak – eveneens uitgegeven door hetPortugese label Clean Feed. De Canadese pianiste heeft haareigen stem bepaald tegen een achtergrond van dwarse pianis-tiek, waarin Thelonious Monk en Paul Bley belangrijke inspiratie-bronnen vormen. Het improviseren vanuit melodische cellen, zotyperend voor de laatste, is sterk te horen in het openingsstuk,‘Vadim’. Melodisch improviseren is ook een pijler van het werkvan Monk, en diens ‘Gallop’s gallop’ wordt vanuit dat uitgangs-punt benaderd. Geen simpele imitatie van de stijl van de com-ponist, maar vanuit je eigen stijl doorwerken aan een thema,dat maakt pas echt indruk. Dat Revis een goede hand heeft inde samenstelling van zijn team, had ik bij de bespreking van‘Parallax’ ook al opgemerkt. De keuze voor Andrew Cyrille alsdrummer is opnieuw perfect. De inmiddels 73-jarige slagwerkeropereert vanuit de (Afrikaans beïnvloede) traditie van het melo-dische drummen, die vanuit Max Roach naar Ed Blackwell enSunny Murray loopt. De omfloerste trommels in het titelstuklaten horen waartoe deze grootmeester in staat is. De hele plaatlang is hij de subtiele onderstreper van het muzikale discoursdat bij voortduring helder en transparant blijft. En dan Reviszelf: hij levert loepzuiver strijkwerk dat tot pure ontroering kanleiden, zoals in het thema van ‘Harry Partch laments the dyingof the moon… and then laughs’ of het ingetogen gespeelde‘Prayer’ van Keith Jarrett, dat misschien wel het hoogtepunt isop een cd die toch al geen zwakke momenten kent.

Step Tempest review by Richard B. Kamins

CF 277Eric Revis – City of Asylum (CF 277)
Bassist Eric Revis is one of the busiest musicians in the world.  As I write this (7/08/13), he’s on tour in Europe with both the Branford Marsalis Quartet and the Kurt Rosenwinkel New Quartet. He’s also a charter member of the Tarbaby trio with Orrin Evans and Nasheet Waits making him a charter member of the LIKEMIND Collective as well (Part 1 is here).

“City of Asylum” (Clean Feed Records) share its name with a Community Arts Organization in Pittsburgh, PA (www.cityofasylumpittsburgh.org/).  It’s Revis’s 4th CD as a leader and features drum master Andrew Cyrille (born 1939) and the impressive young pianist Kris Davis.  The bassist brought the musicians together and they created the program on this CD.  Composed of 7 group improvisations and one piece each from Thelonious Monk (“Gallop’s Gallop”), Keith Jarrett (“Prayer”), and Revis’s “Question”, the music is alive with interaction, possibilities, ideas and quite far from cliche.  The bassist has a “large” tone that blends well with Mr. Cyrille’s fluid percussion.  Ms. Davis is one of the stronger improvisers in modern music, her ability to move in and out of the flow of the music, her striking choice of chords and melodic phrases, her percussive attack, all keep the listener on the edge of his seat (physically and mentally).  There is nothing “standard” about her approach (you can say the same about  Messrs. Cyrille and Revis as well) so these pieces feel “alive”.  There are tens of thousands of covers of Monk tunes but few with the animation that this Trio imbues the song with.  Mr. Cyrille creates a wall of percussion while the bassist, more often than not, plays counterpoint.  The give-and-take of the bass and drums in the opening moments of “For Bill” is a fine example of how both musicians set up the dialogue and lay the table for Ms. Davis. She reacts to as well as acts on what her partners are creating. This piece is so quiet, at times, one must lean into the speakers, yet Mr. Cyrille never relinquishes the beat – in fact, he sets the level of intensity for the others.   This music is neither heartless nor humorless.  Witness “Harry Partch Laments the Dying of the Moon…and Then Laughs” – with Ms. Davis creating a “motor-rhythm” and Mr. Cyrille pushing an prodding beneath, the bassist creates a mysterious sound as he bows throughout the track.  Revis sets a furious pace on his unaccompanied opening to “Prayer” and, when the drummer enters, one can hear the musicians “conversing”.  Ms. Davis plays with slowing down the piece, creating a solo that rises with the bass in pursuit. The lovely melody line the pianist creates on “Traylor”is reminiscent of Paul Simon’s “An American Tune” – the drummer frames the piano beautifully with his cymbals and sparse use of the snare drum while the bassist creates a melody that moves in tandem with the piano.

“City of Asylum” is filled with with riches, a group conversation that is open and intimate. One can sense that as Kris Davis, Andrew Cyrille and Eric Revis continue to explore this collaboration, their interactions will become ever more expansive.  This CD is excellent yet one must see them live to complete the connection between musician, music and listener.

Mercury News review by Richard Scheinin

CF 277Eric Revis – City of Asylum (CF 277)
More than Branford Marsalis’s bassist, Revis has lately emerged as one of the most surprising and broad-minded of jazz musicians. This trio date with pianist Kris Davis and drummer Andrew Cyrille is stunning; it quickly/quietly sucks you into its free-jazz vortex.

Expresso review by João Santos

CF 277Eric Revis feat. Kris Davis and Andrew Cyrille – CITY OF ASYLUM (CF 277)
5 Estrelas (5/5)
A milagrosa data que reuniu Revis, Davis e Cyrille foi assim descrita pela pianista: “comunicávamos por e-mails e o Eric perguntou-me se estaria interessada em tocar com o Andrew; depois, registámos o álbum quando nos juntámos pela primeira vez”. O depoimento, sedutoramente facilitista, tomado por Ethan Iverson – líder nos Bad Plus, blogger em “Do The Math” e autor das notas de apresentação –, dissimula tanto o empenho e a disciplina por detrás da sessão quanto as casulosas virtudes dos estúdios de gravação. E refere-se vagamente ao estado de prontidão enquanto estratégia de sobrevivência para a vida numa metrópole. O que remete para este título que alude à Rede Internacional de Cidades de Refúgio – a ONG, derivada do Parlamento Internacional de Escritores que Rushdie, Banks e Soyinka fundaram em 1994, consagrada ao abrigo de escritores perseguidos. Em setembro de 2012, num trio com Orrin Evans e Nasheet Waits, Revis contactou com esta realidade ao participar no “Jazz Poetry Concert” da associação City of Asylum/Pittsburgh, sediada na Pensilvânia. É por isso apropriado que evoque aqui uma prece – ‘Prayer’, originalmente um dueto com Charlie Haden, em 1975 incluído em “Death and the Flower” – de um pianista desse Estado, aí educado por devotos da Igreja de Cristo, Cientista, que dá pelo nome de Keith Jarrett. Aliás, de certa forma, “City of Asylum” celebra a espiritualidade dos excêntricos, numa versão de ‘Gallop’s Gallop’, de um Monk sob a proteção de Nica de Koenigswarter, num tema dedicado ao ex-escravo Bill Traylor, espécie de Matisse sem a família Stein que pintava, octogenário e destituído, pelas ruas de Montgomery nos anos 40, ou numa lauda a Harry Partch, o mais desalinhado dos compositores norte-americanos. O que daí resulta é ao mesmo tempo terno, revoluto, martirizado (cita São Ciro), redimido e francamente memorável.