Tag Archives: Daniele Martini

Burning Ambulance review by Phil Freeman

Hugo Antunes – Roll Call (CF 197)
Portuguese bassist Hugo Antunes wrote all the tunes on this album, his debut for the Clean Feed label, and it’s ferocious. It swings hard, it’s produced beautifully, and the ensemble is empathetic and aggressive at once. It’s a concise statement—six tracks in 44 minutes, including two takes of “Anfra.” The band is interesting; a two-reed front line (Daniele Martini and Toine Thys, the former on tenor saxophone, the latter on tenor and soprano saxes and bass clarinet), Antunes on bass and two drummers, João Lobo and Marek Patrman. (The liner notes don’t indicate which drummer is in the left channel and which the right.)

The music is largely post-Ornette post-bop; Antunes is a powerful bassist, as he’s gotta be if he’s gonna be the only chordal instrument in the whole ensemble. He pulls the strings like a young Charles Mingus; there are multiple passages during which echoes of “Haitian Fight Song” or “II B.S.” seem to drift through. At other times, he strums the bass like a huge guitar, the way Jimmy Garrison used to behind John Coltrane. Meanwhile, the two saxophonists play not just simultaneously, but together, working their way through intricate melody lines and conversing on the fly. The music occasionally drifts into ultra-free improv that sounds like it should have a capital I, but things always wind up back where they belong, in the realm of muscular, swinging jazz. Lobo and Patrman hit hard when that’s what’s called for, and play off each other very well at all times. Their rhythmic dance is easily the most interesting part of many moments here.

There’s not a whole lot to say about an album like this. Strong compositions, well played by a sympathetic and talented ensemble that, despite being assembled for the date (from multiple countries), comes together with a surety and a sense of common purpose that’s just wildly enjoyable to hear. It would be a very good thing indeed if this ensemble continued to work together in the future, both live and in the studio.
http://burningambulance.com/2011/01/

All About Jazz-Italy review by Libero Farnè

Hugo Antunes – Roll Call (CF 197)Valutazione: 4 stelle
Il catalogo Clean Feed, uno dei più vasti e coerenti nella documentazione di certo avant jazz attuale, raccoglie e spesso fa interagire esponenti americani ed europei. Alcune sedute d’incisione riportano gruppi ben consolidati o situazioni di particolare consistenza progettuale, altre sembrano documentare sodalizi più occasionali con esiti oscillanti. Roll Call, registrato in uno studio di Bruxelles in data non precisata, sembra collocarsi a metà strada fra queste due categorie. Senza rientrare fra le cose indispensabili dell’etichetta portoghese, la qualità della musica, l’attualità e l’onestà culturale dell’approccio testimoniano tuttavia l’alto livello medio raggiunto appunto dalla Clean Feed.
Il CD costituisce il biglietto da visita di Hugo Antunes, nato in Portogallo nel 1974 ma formatosi musicalmente anche in Belgio e altrove. Come contrabbassista non appartiene alla categoria dei virtuosi, ma possiede un drive pulsante ed efficace; si dimostra inoltre compositore aggiornato, in linea con certe esperienze attuali, e leader sensibile, capace di innescare la motivazione dei partner.

L’impianto tematico di “Dukkha” è abbastanza semplice, ma viene nobilitato e sviluppato in modo mosso dall’intreccio dialogante dei due bravi sassofonisti e dalla trama ritmica, incalzante e variata negli accenti, fornita dai due batteristi, João Lobo e Marek Patrman, il primo dei quali ben noto in Italia per aver militato nei gruppi di Giovanni Guidi. Il ricorso a due ance e a due batterie costituisce appunto la scelta vincente di Antunes, permettendogli di impostare una griglia strutturale e timbrica che qualifica la musica in tutto l’arco del CD.

“Roll Call” è caratterizzato da una sequenza di brevi sezioni diverse: si passa dell’iniziale fosco e statico brulicare collettivo ad episodi ossessivamente martellanti, ad altri dallo swing più jazzistico. L’incipit di “Høyspenning” e di “Anfra” è affidato al contrabbasso del leader per poi addentrarsi subito in mosse evoluzioni. A differenza che negli altri brani, in “Einfach,” dall’incedere lento e decantato, si dà maggior peso alla scrittura ed all’arrangiamento, che in questo caso divengono elementi vincolanti.
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=6172

Lira review by Leif Carlsson

Hugo Antunes – Roll Call (CF 197)
Eurofri jazz. Två träblås, två trumslagare och så ledarenoch basisten Hugo Antunes. Som Malachi Favors i de tidigaArt Ensemble of Chicago står han med fötterna djupt icentrum av denna kvintett från Portugal, Italien, Belgienoch Tjeckien.De spelar en fri jazz med rötter i sextiotalet. Antunes sexkompositioner är ett slags stommar att bygga på. Detamerikanska smälter ihop med ett nutida Europa, särskilthos slagverken. Musiken resonerar som Archie Sheppkunde göra på den tiden med sin inblandning av nyakärvare insikter i det välkända. Blåsarna konverserar meddig som lyssnare och håller sig i normalregistret. Trummorna kompletterar varandra ochspelar luftigt och utan trängsel. Bandet kringlar sig framåt melodiskt, ett oslipat kollektivsom hellre vill kommunicera än fila på sin yta.

Burning Ambulance review by Phil Freeman

Hugo Antunes – Roll Call (CF 197)
Portuguese bassist Hugo Antunes wrote all the tunes on this album, his debut for the Clean Feed label, and it’s ferocious. It swings hard, it’s produced beautifully, and the ensemble is empathetic and aggressive at once. It’s a concise statement—six tracks in 44 minutes, including two takes of “Anfra.” The band is interesting; a two-reed front line (Daniele Martini and Toine Thys, the former on tenor saxophone, the latter on tenor and soprano saxes and bass clarinet), Antunes on bass and two drummers, João Lobo and Marek Patrman. (The liner notes don’t indicate which drummer is in the left channel and which the right.)

The music is largely post-Ornette post-bop; Antunes is a powerful bassist, as he’s gotta be if he’s gonna be the only chordal instrument in the whole ensemble. He pulls the strings like a young Charles Mingus; there are multiple passages during which echoes of “Haitian Fight Song” or “II B.S.” seem to drift through. At other times, he strums the bass like a huge guitar, the way Jimmy Garrison used to behind John Coltrane. Meanwhile, the two saxophonists play not just simultaneously, but together, working their way through intricate melody lines and conversing on the fly. The music occasionally drifts into ultra-free improv that sounds like it should have a capital I, but things always wind up back where they belong, in the realm of muscular, swinging jazz. Lobo and Patrman hit hard when that’s what’s called for, and play off each other very well at all times. Their rhythmic dance is easily the most interesting part of many moments here.

There’s not a whole lot to say about an album like this. Strong compositions, well played by a sympathetic and talented ensemble that, despite being assembled for the date (from multiple countries), comes together with a surety and a sense of common purpose that’s just wildly enjoyable to hear. It would be a very good thing indeed if this ensemble continued to work together in the future, both live and in the studio.
http://burningambulance.com/2011/01/21/hugo-antunes/

Le Son du Grisli review by Pierre Cécile

Hugo Antunes – Roll Call (CF 197)
Jusqu’à la semaine dernière, je ne savais rien d’Hugo Antunes, ce contrebassiste portugais fier comme un rock qui en appelle au roll (le jeu de mots est tout trouvé parce que Roll Call est un disque de jazz musculeux !).

Pas de romantisme en vogue et jamais d’exagération chez Antunes. Plutôt des rondeurs généreuses qui vont bien au jazz qu’il joue avec Daniele Martini et Toine Thys aux saxophones & Joao Lobo et Marek Patrman aux batteries. Le secret est-il dans la présence de ces deux batteurs ? Peut-être, le tout est que cette musique coule de source, est agréable à entendre et si l’on veut intéressante à décortiquer. Antunes met sa jeunesse et sa fougue au service du jazz et le résultat est surprenant…
http://grisli.canalblog.com/archives/2011/01/13/20113641.html

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Hugo Antunes – Roll Call (CF 197)
The more I hear of the Portuguese jazz scene the more impressive it seems to me. That’s mostly thanks to the big ears of the folks at Clean Feed and their ambitious release schedule. Take today’s CD, for example, Hugo Antunes’ Roll Call (Clean Feed 197). I’m not precisely sure who in this sextet is and who isn’t on the Portuguese scene (the CD was recorded in Brussels) but it illustrates my point nonetheless. Hugo plays a solid avant bass and writes some adventurous material. Joining him are two winds and two drummers: Daniele Martini on tenor and Toine Thys on tenor, soprano and bass clarinet; the two drummers are Joao Lobo and Marek Patrman. This is music that breathes fire yet also gives contrasting space and runs through contrasting arranged, written and improvised routines that mix it up enough that one’s attention remains focused throughout. It’s a kind of in-and-out sensibility that much on Clean Feed puts forward these days. Yet Hugo Antunes’ group does not in any way sound generic or derivative. I am occasionally reminded of the group sound of Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition band from the seventies, when Chico Freeman switched to the bass clarinet to contrast with the tenor of David Murray while the piano-less ensemble took the tempo loosely and convincingly. Now that’s just a matter of the sound, and Antunes’ group is not otherwise playing the mimic to that remarkable ensemble. And here we have two drummers, not one, working especially well together, one drummer’s sound and execution contrasting with the other’s at all points. And sometimes they kick up a hell of a row, inciting the horn men to both dizzying heights and tightly focuses interaction. Both Thys and Martini are very good players. They sound good singly and, especially, working in tandem on double improvisations and arranged routines. Roll Call constitutes another surprise, a sleeper, a jazz wolf in sheep’s clothing. You look at the cover, you say to yourself, “OK…” Then you play the CD a few times and you say, “OK!!”
It’s a goody. Give us some more of this, Hugo!
http://gapplegateguitar.blogspot.com/

Goddeau Magazine review by Guy Peters

Hugo Antunes – Roll Call (CF 197)
Het Portugese Clean Feed mag intussen dan wel bekend staan om het uitbrengen van werk van Amerikaanse en Scandinavische veteranen en talenten, eigen volk wordt ook niet vergeten. Zo krijgt de nog jonge, in Brussel verblijvende bassist Hugo Antunes ook de mogelijkheid om z’n kans te wagen. Met succes, want Roll Call weet perfect z’n beperkingen in troeven om te buigen.

Opener “Dukkha” biedt meteen een prima staalkaart, met een pulserende bas, waarover twee saxen lange uithalen neerleggen, terwijl de drummers soms nog bezig lijken met hun soundcheck, de onderdelen van hun drumkit aanhalend, ritmes uittestend. Een heel nummer van dit zou je nog een gebrek aan richting kunnen verwijten, maar een wending komt er na twee en een halve minuut, als Antunes de teugels plots in handen neemt, de kompanen bij de les roept en een fijn stukje swingende free op poten zet, waarbij vooral het laidback karakter van de muziek benadrukt wordt. Geen grote statements of opschepperij, maar losjes, soulvol en met sprekend gemak uitgevoerd.

Bovenal is het jazz met een open karakter, die z’n tijd neemt en beweegt op een zuiders tempo. Iets gerichter gaat het er aan toe in het titelnummer, dat van start gaat met Thys’ aanzetten op basklarinet, plaagstoten die snel al overgenomen worden door de andere vier. Het is een wat merkwaardig stuk, nu eens hoekig, verschuivend van het ene solostuk naar het andere, en dan weer vol vlugge interactie met staccato uithalen en bijna hysterisch gerammel. Het werkt hier echter opnieuw prima als een schoteltje gemengd, waarbij de luisteraar het hele gamma kan voorproeven.

Het best van al werkt Roll Call in de meer ingetogen songs. Zo gaat “Høyspenning” van start met een gerekte bassolo en krijg je daarna iets dat je best zou kunnen omschrijven als bezwerende lyriek: een vrijage van twee saxen (met Thys deze keer op sopraan) op een achtergrond van hypnotiserende drums, die opnieuw kiezen voor inkleuren zonder de spanning te verbreken. Nog sfeervoller is “Einfach”, dat z’n naam grotendeels waarmaakt: van de eenvoud wordt hier een deugd gemaakt, met een op cimbalen uitgewerkte intro en vervolgens een lyrisch spel van zwijmelende saxen die elkaar mooi aanvullen, contouren suggererend en valstrikken ontwijkend.

De ’alternate take’ van het bluesier “Anfra” niet meegerekend, blijft Roll Call ruim onder veertig minuten. Dat is een verademing in de jazzwereld, waar more nog al te vaak much more is. Je kan het bezwaarlijk een opvallend of vernieuwend album noemen en het is niet het soort plaat dat je bij de lurven grijpt om drie kwartier later pas te lossen. Gelukkig is het evenmin een voorbeeld van zelfoverschatting, pretentie of onsamenhangend gemasturbeer. Het is een mooi brokje free jazz, dat met een been stevig in de traditie staat en met het ander doet wat het wil zonder daarbij de controle uit het oog te verliezen. Het resultaat is dan ook een geslaagde, warme entree met een groeimarge die belooft voor de toekomst.

Antunes & co. spelen een resem concerten in België (o.a. in Gent, Brussel en Mechelen) in het voorjaar. Meer info op de MySpace-pagina.
http://www.goddeau.com/content/view/8485

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

Hugo Antunes – Roll Call (CF 197)
****
There are albums when you know from the very first minutes that something is “right” : in the fit of the musicians, the approach, the sound, the freedom. This is one of those albums, and one with an unusual line-up at that : with two saxes – Daniele Martini and Toine Thys, two drummers – João Lobo and Marek Patrman, and one forceful bass, played by Portuguese Hugo Antunes.

The first piece is a rhythmic delight of soft-spoken horns engaging deeply in free form, with a solid and subtle bass as the anchorpoint, with both drummers creating a great background of percussive shifting colors. The title track does what it says, a “roll call” of the various musicians, each one presenting himself, as an invitation for the others to welcome by joining the created context, then leaving for the short solo moment to the next instrument, and so on. The result is nice because each musician adds his own touch and approach, basically telling his story in a few notes, with the other musicians completing it together, which gives the piece a suit-like nature.

The third track starts with a long bass intro, setting a steady pulse over which both saxes weave a slow,  ethereal and yearning sound.”Anfra” is more boppish, “Einfach” more subdued and atmospheric.

I will not review every track, but you get the picture, this beyond bop and post-bop, capturing the complexity, the improvisational power, the freedom and the emotional depth that are so the essence of jazz.

Strong album.
http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/

Temporary Fault review by Massimo Ricci

Clean Feed 1
A few words about ten less recent chapters from the ongoing (hopefully for long) saga of Pedro Costa’s label. Other titles will be gathered in a future instalment.

Clean Feed Cherry Picking

FIGHT THE BIG BULL – Dying Will Be Easy (CF 108 )
Under this name acts a reasonably bloodthirsty nonet led by guitarist Matt White, the composer of all the tunes. The instrumentation comprise two trombones (Reggie Pace, Bryan Hooten), clarinet (Adrian Sandi), tenor sax (J.C. Kuhl), trumpet (Bob Miller), percussion (Brian Jones), trap kit (Pinson Chanselle) and bass (Cameron Ralston). Given that the CD lasts slightly in excess of 31 minutes, the level of charged dynamics and overall energies that it transmits is noteworthy. Clearly stated themes get rapidly embittered in distorted fury, vapours of past influences gathered and shaken up into original recipes for a fresh kind of alternative dancing. Orchestrations that hint to big band enthusiasms and New Orleans-tinged business leave room for the instrumentalists to releases copious doses of vociferous rage, yet there’s also space for looking at atmospheres that are more reminiscent of a strip club than a jazz club. The mechanisms of lucidity don’t seem to be always in full control, but the somewhat disorderly conduct held by the ensemble is a plus, liberating the music from the sub-structural obviousness that this brand of projects frequently implies. The nervous sort of gaiety that characterizes substantial chunks of the compositions is exactly what defines their distinctiveness. Play loud and get slapped hard.

PAULO CURADO E O LUGAR DA DESORDEM – The Bird, The Breeze And Mr. Filiano (CF 113)
As the record’s name implies, the presence of double bassist Ken Filiano amidst leader Paulo Curado (alto sax, flute) and Bruno Pedroso (drums) is rather exemplary, classiness and sobriety always at the forefront either as accompanist or soloist, an extreme musicality symbolizing the cornerstone of his style, which is a pleasure to listen at any time. The Portuguese comrades are definitely not lesser musicians, though: this is a typical specimen of trio that might have risked to sound as a mellifluous disaster on CD and instead comes out of the speakers as a splendid kinship, the music walking at brisk paces without stumbling for a moment. Curado is a neat executor on both instruments, playing lines that result perfectly intelligible wherever he decides to go, perennial precision and clever sleights of hand never informed by excessive meticulousness. Pedroso’s wrists allow him excursions in several regions of drumming, including those which border with total freedom, yet he manages to emerge as the driving propitiator of impartially functional rhythmic designs at all times. Played with earnestness and elegance at once, these pieces appear like unprejudiced attempts to avoid that kind of pre-digested organization which gives jazz a glossy patina of unresponsive pointlessness.

JORGE LIMA BARRETO – Zul Zelub (CF 111)
The theory of “unrealized energy”, of which we find a meticulous description on the album’s sleeve notes, is at the basis of these 75 minutes of improvisations by pianist Jorge Lima Barreto. The length of the CD is, in truth, one of its limits but this notwithstanding some of the ideas that the sole protagonist performs are fascinating enough to release an overall sufficiently positive judgement. In “Zul”, which alternates not always lucid free forms to comparatively peaceful dissertations, the instrument is constantly intertwined with the emanations of a shortwave radio; this continuous presence defines the piece both positively and negatively, alternating moments of experimental intrigue to sections where there seems to be a little bit of confusion. The second half “Zelub” is much better, especially as Barreto’s more effective, less redundant playing is accompanied by four parallel recordings of natural and environmental sounds, including beautiful birds and other similarly engrossing presences. At times, for inexplicable reasons, I was reminded of Joachim Kühn in certain electro-acoustic partnerships on CMP. Still, despite a degree of heaviness mainly in the first part of the record, this is undoubtedly sincere music to appraise without acting as overly critical detractors.

TETTERAPADEQU – And The Missing R (CF 120)
A group formed by two Italians (tenor saxophonist Daniele Martini and pianist Giovanni Di Domenico) and a Portuguese rhythm section consisting of Gonçalo Almeida on double bass and João Lobo on drums, the name being an anagram – minus an “r”, hence the title – of a club named De Patter Quartet in The Hague, Holland, where the four conservatory students used to play together after the lessons. Where technical preparation of the musicians and instantaneous (and often ironic) creativity meet depends on the different circumstances that the music presents. Barely sketched ideas, adventurous sensitivity, a few grimaces and fully fledged compositions, the whole under a stylistic banner whose colours are mainly taken from jazz, but also from other kinds of immediate intuition, several moments characterized by intense silences and melancholic touches for good measure. Now tangentially intelligent, now more respectful of traditions, this record shows the artists’ will to do their best to maintain an optimistically untarnished approach to interplay; they sound dedicated, detached and having fun at once. The result is an extremely satisfying album, its moods and inclinations not in need to overwhelm the listener. Remarkable and, at the end of the day, successful in not giving us the chance of an accurate classification.

THE FLATLANDS COLLECTIVE – Maatjes (CF 127)
A Dutch word that means “mates” also defines a typical local delicacy, of which the musicians who play in the CD grew fond during a stay in Amsterdam. The exchange of musical experiences – Chicago versus The Netherlands – is at the basis of this album featuring virtual leader Jorrit Dijkstra (alto sax, lyricon, analog synth), James Falzone (clarinet), Jeb Bishop (trombone), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello, analog electronics), Jason Roebke (bass) and Frank Rosaly (drums, percussion). The compositions, mostly credited to Boston-resident Dijkstra, are visibly distinguished by a rather synchronized approach, the artists following a basic compositional scheme comprising a number of places for individual expression but always in the name of an orchestral result that often sounds regimented, only at times slightly more audacious. In general, the players do not seem to be looking too hard for alternative routes: once a suggestion is delineated, they develop a few instant propositions without putting excessive quantities of juvenile delinquency in there, wearing an “everything-under-control” mask whatever the proposition may be (among the declared influences, minimalist mavericks Terry Riley and LaMonte Young; still, curb your enthusiasm if you think to find anything even remotely similar to that music). This somewhat scarcely flexible application of colours and codes limits the sparkle factor of the pieces, which remain flawlessly elegant examples of semi-improvised concepts partially subjugated to a collective format, the whole impeccably executed yet unquestionably cold to these ears.

RIDD QUARTET – Fiction Avalanche (CF 121)
Reuben Radding (double bass), Jon Irabagon (sax), Kris Davis (piano), Jeff Davis (drums), RIDD combine different types of situations and moods, ranging from the sober elegance of rarefied tunes where the piano dictates the behavioural rules of a jazz that follows – at least in part – the tradition without sounding démodé (the preferred facet of the group by this writer) to more oblique exemplifications of dissonant freedom, often interesting, at times a little tortuous, in general destined not to remain in the memory (this needs the opening of a discussion panel; how many records of contemporary jazz are in effect “destined to remain in the memory”, if not vaguely? Next time). The players, whose nimbleness is beyond debate, approach the material with the right balance of clever diplomacy and regulated sixth sense, rarely exalting the fuming aspects of improvisation in favour of a controlled attitude which sounds very welcome. Radding and Irabagon complement their reciprocal finesse splendidly, literate contrapuntal parallelisms calling attention also when the tune does not necessarily require it. Jeff Davis is the most discreet figure of the quartet, humility at the service of the collective yet extremely precise and reliable, a teaching for certain drummers who would have better served themselves by becoming wailing guitarists instead of banging our ears off the head. Still, the real pleasures frequently come courtesy of Kris Davis, improvisational intelligence on a par with her abilities as a refined interlocutor, chordal hues and sparkling arpeggios always noticeable at the forefront of the mix even in the less intelligible sections.

STEVE ADAMS TRIO – Surface Tension (CF 131)
Adams is a member of ROVA, in front of which a knowledgeable listener could even think of genuflecting – enough said. In this record he plays sopranino, alto, tenor and baritone plus bass flute, flanked by Ken Filiano on bass and Scott Amendola on drums. I’m usually kind-hearted towards instrumentalists belonging to the same rank of these three men, provided that clichés and formulas are left out of the equation which, we’re happy to report, is exactly what happens here. This is as fresh a jazz as a herbal antiperspirant: the music, entirely written by Adams, literally breathes, whatever the sort of proposition he presents. Inspired improvisations sounding like well-rehearsed charts, clever swinging, intense soliloquies and considerate interplay with just a pinch of disenchantment: everything is executed with congruence, the musicians’ intents perfectly aligned in a punctilious search for different solutions. While Filiano performs according to his customary instrumental stature, alternating dissonant bopping and arco-tinged sensitive shrewdness, and Amendola acts as a clear-headed rhythmic propeller gifted with remarkable clarity of vision, the leader is obviously a master of the game, the relationship with the mechanics of blowing air into tubes fuelled by a refined sense of suggestiveness and proportional technical monstrosity which makes us appreciate the sheer sound of any note that he emits, with a personal preference for the splendidly evocative considerations on the flute in tracks such as the gorgeous “ninth” (thus called by yours truly because the CD contains ten chapters, but the cover and the press release indicate only eight titles). A flawless example of creative interaction in a trio, a veritable clinic for many aspiring leaders who don’t have a clue about where they want to go.

JOHN O’GALLAGHER TRIO – Dirty Hands (CF 132)
The spectacular audio quality of the recording is extremely helpful in highlighting the instrumental adroitness of alto saxophonist O’Gallagher and his comrades, bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Jeff Williams. People who sound like they’ve been playing together forever, recorded in studio during a pause in a series of concerts and clinics in Braga, Portugal in 2007 which made their spiritual and technical fusion complete. It’s great when, while listening to an album, one can literally penetrate the essence of each instrument (which comes naturally easier when the sources are not too numerous). This happens time and again while we “concentrate on the concentration” demonstrated by the artists all over the course of this disc, which alternates mathematic precision, committed ardour and permanent imaginativeness in a noteworthy recipe, the sounds typical of this format in a way separated, clarified and amplified to express a unique mental picture. This perfect intelligibility is what attributes to the whole a positive mark: without sounding by any means conciliatory – quite the contrary, it is full of acute corners and razor-blade sharpness – this music is also capable of touching the soul at least in part, leaving ample room for reflection and air to breathe for the brain, never overwhelmed by what ignorant analysts often define “urgency” and instead is just inability to listen, which in my book determines a loss of the right to be called “musicians”. O’Gallagher, Kamaguchi and Williams are excellent listeners and the record is, accordingly, brilliant.

DARREN JOHNSTON – The Edge Of The Forest (CF 133)
Remarkable compositions and skilled arrangements designed to create the perfect setting for solos played with zest and exhuding joy to perform. This pretty much sums up the near-perfection of this CD, among my overall favourites in this batch, which gives back copious doses of almost physical pleasure spin after spin – a rare characteristic even in technically superior, high-level releases. Trumpeter and composer Johnston, who has worked among others with Fred Frith and Myra Melford, is aided by Ben Goldberg (clarinet), Sheldon Brown (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Devin Hoff (upright bass), Smith Dobson V (drums) and, exclusively in “Foggy”, by accordionist Rob Reich. A response to the pedestrian attitude of those combos based upon the “nonexistent-theme-thrown-away-before-inconclusive-blowouts” modus operandi, the pieces are constructed with architectural extensiveness, a plurality of diverse keys to open the doors of never-invasive, ever-articulate ramifications leading the group into territories explored with Zappa-esque tightness in uncompromising perseverance, at the same time lightening up the connotations of otherwise unsurprising redundancies. Not for a minute we experience that feel of imminent catastrophe which often underscores excessive freedom, destroying the good intentions that a tune might show: the music flows with the head on its shoulders, the players walking surefooted amidst potential turmoil maintaining rationality and brilliance, and ends exactly where it had to, its latent coldness replaced by a formidable musicality which makes us completely forget about the meaning of “lackadaisical”. A disciplined yet spirited album: if you have to pick just a few in this tentet, this is one of them.
http://temporaryfault.blogspot.com/2009/06/clean-feed-cherry-picking.html

Signal to Noise review by Stuart Broomer

CF 119

Fredrik Nordström Quintet – Live in Coimbra (CF 119)

CF 128

Angelica Sanchez – Life Between (CF 128 )

CF 138

Paul Dunmall Sun Quartet – Ancient and Future Airs (CF 138)

CF 122

Memorize the Sky – In Former Times (CF 122)

CF 120

Tetterapedequ – And the Missing R (CF 120)

Whether it’s the glut of CDs or readily-made self-releases, these are daunting times for smaller creative labels, with some reducing their output significantly. In contrast, Clean Feed, the Portuguese label launched in 2001, has been pushing forward with what is likely the most ambitious current release program in the areas of free jazz and improvised music. The label marked 2008 with 36 releases, including such highlights as Belle Ville by the Townhouse Orchestra (Evan Parker and the Sten Sandell trio) and two extraordinary duet projects by Joe Morris, the first a 4-CD set with Anthony Braxton, the second a sublime interaction with Barre Phillips. The sheer numbers and the prominence of a few artists can mask some of the label’s most interesting qualities: its willingness to promote the work of lesser-known artists and its genuine diversity in both locale and style. These five discs indicate some of that diversity, ranging from muscular to cerebral.

The Fredrik Nordström Quintet is a tightly-knit Swedish band with immediate affinities to the mid-60s Blue Note school. On Live in Coimbra, recorded at Clean Feed’s Jazz ao Centro festival in 2005, the tenor saxophonist/leader’s compositions present briskly stimulating platforms for intense group dialogues, with vibraphonist Mattias Ståhl and drummer Fredrick Rundqvist perhaps inevitably suggesting Bobby Hutcherson’s spacious, sustained dissonances and Tony Williams’ poly-melodic drumming. Trombonist Mats Äleklint is a fine match for Nordström: they’re both hearty, even boisterous players, with big sounds and fine minds, and the conversational component (Äleklint can create engaging dialogues with himself) makes this far more than a revisitation of an older style. That sense of loose conversation shapes “No Longer,” with Nordström joining Äleklint for some rousing collective improvisation before the two cede to a thoughtful solo by bassist Torbjorn Zetterberg. Including a warmly lyrical cover of Bjork’s “Cocoon,” the music gives a sense that it’s being created in the frictions and possibilities of the moment, its pre-ordained patterns functioning as points of discussion. 

Angelica Sanchez doesn’t record often, which makes Life Between something of an event. In addition to her usual trio partners—husband and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby and drummer Tom Rainey–, she’s joined here by guitarist Marc Ducret and bassist Drew Gress in a program of Sanchez compositions that are marked by a near-improvisatory fluency, light lines that seem to arise and flow, unfettered by the hard edges of forethought or structure. The group responds with some brilliant playing, Ducret coaxing his electronic sound to dovetail with Malaby’s tenor and Sanchez’s acoustic and electric pianos. So strong is the affinity that identities shift around among the three, Malaby achieving a sustained bee-buzzing on “Black Helicopters” that builds in intensity at the same time that it builds electronic ambiguity. Whether they’re intense or pastoral, the disc abounds in riveting moments, like the lambent dialogue between Sanchez and Gress on “SF 4” or the four-way pull of rhythms and densities that Ducret, Sanchez, Gress and Rainey achieve on “Blue and Damson.” 

Malaby turns up as well on Ancient and Future Airs, matching his tenor and soprano with leader Paul Dunmall’s tenor and bagpipes, Mark Helias’s bass  and Kevin Norton’s drums and vibraphone.  Given the palpable heft of the Dunmall and Malaby tenor sounds, you might expect a blow-me-down free jazz bloodbath; if so, you’ll be redirected. There’s a certain similarity to the sanctified ’60s pairing of John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, but it’s usually in its lyrical form, some dovetailing modal lines with flute-like sounds. One passage of extended blowing is contrapuntal in nature, with plenty of close listening. Some of the most moving moments are at relatively low volume, as in the subtly Eastern pairing of Malaby’s soprano and Dunmall’s bagpipe. You can catch the group’s inner dynamic when the two tenors drift gently  into Helias’s bowed harmonics. The 49 minute “Ancient Airs” and the ten minute “Future Airs” are aptly named,  for a certain airiness takes in the whole performance, from the grain of tenor sounds to the sparkle of Norton’s cymbals and vibraphones.      
     
 There’s a marked contrast to the forms and linearity of free jazz in Memorize the Sky, the trio of Aaron Siegel on percussion, Matt Bauder on tenor saxophone and clarinet, and Zach Wallace on bass. Together since their student days in Michigan, the three favor a drone-based minimalism more common in Europe than America. It’s a style they explore with fine results, developing dense grain in “I am the founder of this place” with a mix of circular breathing and bowed bass, bells and cymbals. The variety that the three achieve in what might seem like a constricted approach is consistently rewarding, accumulating microscopic evolutions of sound to create transformations before your ear.
Testing rather than jettisoning conventions, Tetterapadequ is a young European band that’s genuinely exploratory, willing to test approaches from a jazz-based rhythmic concentration to solo interludes and even a period of extended silence. It consists of two Italians (tenor saxophonist Daniele Martini and pianist Giovanni di Domenico) and two Portuguese (bassist Gonçalo Almeida and drummer João Lobo), but the key geographical point is the Netherlands. The band’s name is a near-anagram of De Patter Quartet, named for a favourite jazz club the quartet attended while students at a Dutch conservatory. Each is a player of substance, with Martini possessing a marked vocal force and rhythmic imagination and Di Domenico, showing a marked classicism that extends to Satie-like reflections. Almeida presses extended techniques while Lobo adds consistent interest with alternately dense and sparse sonic fields. Tetterapadequ’s eclectic wit suggests the Dutch scene in which they met, while the textures may recall the early work of Giorgio Gaslini, thanks largely to Di Domenico’s ironic classicism.