Tag Archives: Elliott Sharp

Point of Departure review by Troy Collins

CF 288Elliott Sharp Aggregat –  Quintet (CF 288)
When Clean Feed Records released renowned multi-instrumentalist and composer Elliott Sharp’s Aggregat in 2012, it was met with a round of bemused, albeit enthusiastic reviews. After all, it was the first session to be issued featuring Sharp’s reed playing as prominently as his distinctively amplified fretwork. For years Sharp has augmented his six-string extrapolations with brief detours on soprano saxophone or bass clarinet and occasionally, tenor saxophone, but rarely for entire tunes – let alone albums. Supported by the intrepid rhythm section of bassist Brad Jones and drummer Ches Smith, Sharp was able to convincingly transpose his cyber-punk inflected themes into a primarily acoustic format.

That project led to a new incarnation; bolstered by an expanded lineup, Quintet ups the ante considerably over the previous trio effort. Joined by trumpet phenomenon Nate Wooley and rising trombonist Terry Green, Sharp forgoes his trusty axe altogether, sticking to his trio of horns exclusively throughout this unamplified set. Wooley’s bold use of extended techniques and Green’s highly expressive vocalizations are a perfect match for Sharp’s own vanguard aesthetic; although Sonny Rollins’ muscular lyricism is an obvious influence on the leader’s bristling tenor runs, the tonal manipulations of visionary saxophonists like Steve Lacy and Archie Shepp are even more prominent in his wheelhouse.

Recorded in Bryce Goggin’s studio, the room’s natural reverb and the fact that each composition ranges from a concise two to eight minutes in length lends a sense of sonic cohesiveness to the proceedings, despite the diversity of Sharp’s methodology. “Anabatics” embodies the sort of skirling contours and vertiginous intervals commonly associated with Sharp’s thorny writing, yet the sprightly free-bop opener “Magnetar” evokes Ornette Coleman’s early Atlantic sides, as the three horn frontline deftly navigates the rhythm section’s briskly modulating tempo shifts. The cinematic travelogue “Arc of Venus” showcases an even subtler side of the quintet, its exotic soundscape colored by ghostly muted horns and dramatic mallet work, while the aleatoric impressionism at the center of “Lacus Temporis” is not immediately identifiable as part of Sharp’s oeuvre at all. Nonetheless, such excursions provide an aural respite from more turbulent fare, with Sharp’s young sidemen offering consistently stellar contributions at every turn.

Green proves a most enthralling player, with un-tempered growls, slurs and smears bolstering his vociferous phrases, but it’s Wooley who nearly steals the show. As one of the most inventive and imposing young trumpet players performing today, Wooley’s technical innovations extend Bill Dixon’s legacy, expanding the timbral range of the horn into previously unheard realms of nuance and texture. Attentive to the material at hand, Wooley customizes his tonal approach to dynamically suit each work, plying barely audible metallic cries throughout the spectral meditation “Cherenkov Light” and unleashing well-timed blasts of coruscating white noise on the oblique swinger “Katabatics,” perfectly complementing each piece in turn.

Sharp easily holds his own in the company of these spirited young Turks, matching their unfettered discourse with an experienced fervency that manifests in an expressionistic array of multiphonic split-tones, sustained altissimo refrains and sinuous pitch bends. Emboldened by a collaborative mindset emblematic of the group’s name, Quintet is Sharp’s most conventionally jazz-oriented – and thereby intriguing – album to date.
http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD46/PoD46MoreMoments5.html

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

CF 288Elliott Sharp – Aggregat Quintet (CF 288)
*****
A passagem do projecto Aggregat de trio a quinteto não se limitou à adição de Nate Wooley (trompete) e Terry L. Green (trombone) às palhetas de Sharp e à máquina “pan-rítmica” de Brad Jones (baixo) e Ches Smith (bateria). Se nestas páginas se escreveu que o simpático disco em trio era uma ilha mainstream na discografia de Sharp, já Aggregat Quintet soa como a banda residente de um circo que tem um David Lynch encharcado de anfetaminas como mestre de cerimónias.
Fanfarras adstringentes e maníacas, caleidoscópios ácidos, turbilhões ferozes e ritmos entrecortados colidem num caos controlado que exerce um fascínio irresistível – a magia só se quebra em “Lacus Temporis” e “Cherenkov Light”, onde a efervescência dá lugar a uma desolação azeda.

Expresso review by João Santos

CF 288Elliott Sharp Aggregat – Quintet (CF 288)
*****
Com mais vontade do que acerto, escreveu um dia Torquato Neto: “Há várias maneiras de se cantar e fazer música: Gilberto Gil prefere todas”. O vaticínio, que, presume-se, admitia mentalmente a hipótese de vir o baiano a perfilhar uma carreira punida pela inconsistência, ganhou eco numa declaração de Butch Morris, proferida já, esta sim, no contexto de uma apresentação do percurso de Elliott Sharp, quando, em “Doing the Don’t”, ajuizava o maestro ao realizador Bert Shapiro: “[Na música de Sharp] Vão ouvir algo que nunca ouviram na vida e que, seja ou não do vosso agrado, de algum modo os vai inspirar”.

Pela mesma razão encontra-se tanto de espúrio na discografia do guitarrista nova-iorquino. Porque à ambição de marcar a história do jazz moderno, por exemplo – o que, imagine-se, lhe garantiria a posição imediatamente anterior à de Sonny Sharrock no “Penguin Guide to Jazz”, caso, lá está, lhe tivessem consistentemente reservado entrada os autores da enciclopédia –, sobrepôs-se o desejo de documentar o inclassificável.

O ano de 2013 provou-o, com “Momentum Anomaly” compendiando solos acústicos, “Haptikon” testemunhando um interesse pela inteligência artificial, “Crossing the Waters” assinalando o batismo de um novo trio, “In The Pelagic Zone” reunindo obras de câmara e o DVD “Ostryepolya” registando duetos com Scott Fields. Mas é neste “Quintet” – em que, a favor dos sopros, renuncia integralmente à guitarra, aliando-se a Nate Wooley, Terry Green, Brad Jones e Ches Smith – que coloca do lado certo aquilo que adora pôr do avesso. Ou seja, o mais atípico dos seus discos é o mais imediato e indispensável dos que já fez na vida.

Free Jazz review by Paul Acquaro

CF 288Elliot Sharp Aggregat – Quintet (CF 288)
****½
On guitarist Elliot Sharp’s new recording you’ll hear plenty of horns and a fiery rhythm section, but you will not hear a guitar.

Fans of the first Aggregat album, by the Elliot Sharp Trio, know that Sharp switched to saxophone for a good portion of the recording. Always an experimental guitarist, Aggregat showed a more ‘conventional’ side of Sharp’s compositions of angular heads and ensemble playing. On the quintet album, Sharp’s convoluted tunes unwind in similarly wonderful ways, perhaps even a bit knottier than the trio.

‘Magnatar’ kicks off he album with an elliptical figure from trumpeter Nate Wooley. Sharp’s sax offers a counter melody before all three horns break into an improvisation that contains the right ingredients: conflict, agreement, stops and starts. Bassist Brad Jones and dummer Ches Smith keep the piece flowing with a tight groove until a stuttering passage ends the tune. ‘Katabatics’ features trombonist Terry Green on a growling and churning solo, complimented by Sharp’s spiky runs. Another highlight is ‘Blues for Butch’ where a composed head quickly passes into a dense group impovization. The closing tune, ‘Cherenkov Light’ is a study of extended techniques on the horns, where breath and space are on equal footing with the instruments actual tones and notes.

The group interplay throughout is exemplary and the potentially crowded musical space of a quintet is given plenty of space to stretch out. Quintet is a tough and rewarding recording that can stand many many listens, it doesn’t pull punches and has many passages that are as challenging as ones that are easily digestible, which in turns makes for a fantastic album.
http://www.freejazzblog.org/

Expresso best of 2013 List by João Santos

CF 271

Charles Lloyd/Jason Moran – HAGAR’S SONG (ECM)
Dave Douglas Quintet – TIME TRAVEL (Greenleaf)
Ellery Eskelin – MIRAGE (Clean Feed)
Elliott Sharp Aggregat – QUINTET (Clean Feed)
Eric Revis Trio – CITY OF ASYLUM (Clean Feed)
Parker, Evans, Taborn, Pluta – ROCKET SCIENCE (More Is More)
Mario Pavone – ARC TRIO (Playscape)
Mostly Other People Do The Killing – RED HOT (Hot Cup)
Ralph Alessi & Fred Hersch  ONLY MANY – ONLY MANY (Cam Jazz)
Wayne Shorter Quartet – WITHOUT A NET (Blue Note)

Le Son du Grisli review by Guillaume Belhomme

CF 288Elliott Sharp Aggregat – Quintet (CF 288)
De l’Aggregat d’Elliott Sharp, voici le Quintet – et non pas : voici l’Aggregat Quintet d’Elliott Sharp. Projet pensé par le guitariste (ici aux saxophones et clarinette basse) pour regrouper en une « unité sonique » des personnalités différentes, Aggregat fut d’abord un trio (responsable d’un… Aggregat assez peu convaincant publié l’année dernière sur Clean Feed). Aujourd’hui quintet, le titre de la nouvelle référence du projet était tout trouvé.

Ce sont Nate Wooley (trompette) et Terry L. Green (trombone) qui ont, de leurs pratiques iconoclastes, transformé Aggregat : ainsi l’introduction (Magnetar) entend-elle Sharp réussir à composer au son d’influences éclatées – n’y entend-on pas, tout à la fois, Terry Riley, Jay Jay Johnson et Sonny Rollins ? – mais empêchées aussi : récalcitrant, le discours épousera finalement l’allure d’un jazz tortueux que pertes totales de repères et encombrements subits ne cessent de faire gonfler.

Sur l’accompagnement solide (mais aussi plus discret que de coutume) de Brad Jones et Ches Smith, les souffleurs rivalisent alors d’intentions tranchées (Qubits, Historical Friction) quand ils ne font pas cause commune sur la méthode à employer (Dissolution) ou l’hommage à rendre (Blues for Butch, Laugh Out Loud (For Lol Coxhill)). Ayant effacé les traces laissées derrière lui d’un jazz vivace (au son des décharges lentes de Lacus Temporis et des surprenants atermoiements de Chrenkov Light), Aggregat disparaîtra. Il reviendra sans doute, sous une autre forme peut-être.
http://grisli.canalblog.com/archives/2013/12/04/28581929.html

Le Son du Grisli review by Pierre Cécile

CFG006I Never Meta Guitar Two – Solo Guitars for the XXI Century (CFG 006)
Après un premier volume pas mal tourné vers le jazz ou assimilé (avec Jeff Parker, Mary Halvorson, Noël Akchoté, Jean-François Pauvros…), ce qui est en passe de devenir une série, I Never Metaguitar, parie sur des « guitarists for the 21st Century » un peu plus franc-tireur. Si on ne sait pas s’ils sont tous en mesure de réinventer le jeu à l’instrument, ils démontrent en tout cas d’une envie plutôt iconoclaste.

Toujours concoctée par Elliott Sharp, la sélection de solos est comme attendue éclectique : post-folk (Manuel Mota, Steve Cardenas), bruistisme électrique (Ava Mendoza,Yasuhiro Usui, Shouwang Zang), minimalisme (Ben Tyree à la guitare classique fait une forte impression), atmosphérique (Joel Harrison au bottleneck non moins intéressant), voilà pour les « meilleurs ». Enfin il y a les individualistes d’hier qui en ont encore sous la pédale, comme Alan Licht et David Grubbs. Audn l’un déploie un jeu à la structure claire bousculée par le feedback, l’autre s’empare d’une guitare classique pour en pincer les cordes et inventer un bel instrumental minimalow-fi. Bref, de quoi ne pas passer à côté d’une compilation qui nous fait espérer que la série ne s’arrête pas en si bon chemin.
http://grisli.canalblog.com/archives/2013/10/19/28220400.html

All About Jazz review by Mark Corroto

CFG 006Various – I Never Meta Guitar Too (CFG 006)
Ladies and gentlemen, the current state of the guitar in modern creative music is sound. Pun aside, adventurous listeners are always searching for the next “new thing” in music. Thankfully here, guitarist Elliott Sharp acts, once again, as a musical prospector. His previous I Never Meta Guitar (Solo Guitars For The XXI Century) (Clean Feed, 2010) featured familiar players like Henry Kaiser, Brandon Ross, Jeff Parker, and Noel Akchoté, and introduced new superstars including Nels Cline, Mary Halvorson, and Raoul Bjorkenheim. He also included some overlooked talents.

Sharp returns here with sixteen new players—some familiar names and other revelations. These astute collections are guidebooks for the unfamiliar and hunters of the new.

He sprinkles the traditional sound of Ben Tyree’s classically influenced, acoustic “The Gatekeeper,” Steve Cardenas’ operatic acoustic sounds on “Aerial,” and Joel Harrison’s blues-tinged ghost music of “Loon,” alongside the slash and burn of Yasuhiro Isui’s “Headland” and Italian Downtown favorite Marco Cappelli’s “Sits At the Other Side Of The Table.”

Those unfamiliar with the extensive catalog of David Grubbs will find his “Weird Salutation” a meditative acoustic wandering, while Hans Tammen applies his guitar to a software program for some exceptionally curious music-making.

Each piece is an invitation to expand one’s ears in any direction deemed desirable.

Let the journey begin.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=44260

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

CFG 006Various – I Never Meta Guitar Too (solo guitars for the XXI Century) (CFG 006)
****

If you’re looking for a great starting place for understanding what a guitar is, then I’ve got an just the album for you. Actually two. Clean Feed’s ‘I Never Meta Guitar’ and now  ‘I Never Meta Guitar Too’  is an aptly titled clever play on words.

It’s not an instructional CD/DVD, nor is it a text book, but it kind of is actually both those things. Imagine hearing everything a guitar is, in the hands of musicians who really have dedicated their careers to redefining where the instrument begins and ends…

… like Ava Mendoza whose fuzzed out shards of sound pile up over a solid little baseline loop on ‘Mandible Moonwalk’. Or Ben Tyree who sonorous acoustic guitar moves sumptuously in an accessibly beautiful arc on ‘The Gatekeeper’. And then there is Yasuhiro Usui gives us a head scratcher on ‘Headland’, moving between forays into noise, chaotic fretting, spacey textures and melodic snippets.

Each piece is different, exploring and pushing the boundaries of the instrument. Joel Harrison creates a whole world of sound and acoustic textures on ‘Loon,’ while Zach Layton lays down an evocative and slowly expanding soundscape with his electric guitar and looping tools on ‘Thus Gone,’ creating a sonic temple of reverb.

I Never Meta Guitar Too is a continuation of curator Elliot Sharp’s work to bring both known and emerging artists work together. The pieces are all created by the artists and reflect a huge swath of what is possible with a single guitar (though not necessarily a single voice).
http://www.freejazzblog.org/

San Diego Reader best of 2012 list by Robert Bush

2012 was a banner year for recorded jazz, if the more than 100 CD’s that arrived in my mail box are any indication. Even still, I’m sure I missed a few that might have bowled me over–but that’s o.k., since I found it impossible to whittle this “best-of-list” down to a top-ten. Instead, I’m entering 14 albums that made an indelible impression.   This isn’t a “best of San Diego” kind of list, although there are many SD connections here–which says a lot about the rich-in-talent residents, (and former residents) that populate the local jazz landscape.

Jason Robinson -Tiresian Symmetry (Cuneiform)
Nine of the best players on the East Coast scene ripping through Robinson’s difficult charts and making it all sound joyful.

CF 250Elliott Sharp Trio – Aggregat (Clean Feed)
Bracing, free jazz that takes no prisoners. Sharp plays guitar and saxophone and is ably supported by bassist Brad Jones and drummer Ches Smith. A lot of mayhem, but it all swings, somehow.

 

Slumgum w/ Hugh Ragin- The Sky His Own (9 Winds)
Slumgum is Jon Armstrong on saxophone, Rory Cowal on piano, David Tranchina on bass and Trevor Anderies on drums. As a unit they are superb, and the addition of Ragin’s soaring trumpet work make this essential.

Diane Moser & Mark Dresser -Duetto (CIMP)
Moser can straddle the divide between kinetic energy and lyric contemplation and Dresser follows her like a shadow, then steps into other dimensions. Intimate listening.

CF 253Hugo Carvalhais – Particula (Clean Feed)
I’d never heard of bassist Carvalhais before, but Particula is a stunning set of totally modern music, with saxophonist Emile Parisien, violinist Dominique Pifarely, pianist Gabriel Pinto and drummer Mario Costa. I found it hard to stop listening to this disc.

Crispell, Dresser, Hemingway – Play Braxton (Tzadik)
Braxton’s longest running rhythm section team up to revisit the visionary music of the master composer. Lock-tight, and wild, each member brings an individual force into motion.

CF 264Sara Serpa- Ran Blake – Aurora (Clean Feed)
This is a sublime pairing. Serpa’s voice is pitch-perfect, crystal clear and utterly devoid of artifice. Blake’s purity of harmonic conception leaves plenty of space.

 

Vinny Golia Sextet – Abstractions & Retrocausalities (9 Winds)
Like Mingus meeting Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time, this disc rocks and swings hard. Golia’s mastery is well supported by trumpeter Dan Rosenboom, saxophonist Gavin Templeton, guitarist Alex Noice, bassist Jon Armstrong and drummer Andrew Lessman.

Diane Moser – WDMO (Planet Arts)
Moser the pianist and composer are well documented on this release which spans the gamut between Latin grooves and freer material. Excellent cast featuring Peter Sprague, Marguerita Page, Rob Thorsen, Duncan Moore, Mary Redhouse, Will Parsons and Chad Moser.

Vlatkovich Tryyo – Pershing Woman (pfMENTUM)
Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich tears it up on this blistering live set with Jonathan Golove on electric cello and the explosive Damon Short on drums.

Dan Clucas Lost Iguana Ensemble – Do You Know The Ways (Plutonium Records)
Trumpeter Clucas offers up an entirely original set of music here with virtuosi contributions from drummers Brian Christopherson and Dave Wayne, cellist Jessica Catron and the tuba of Mark Weaver. Definitely worth seeking out.

Zen Widow -Screaming In Daytime (pfMENTUM)
The trio of Garth Powell on drums, Gianni Gebbia on saxophone and Mathew Goodheart on piano get a serious injection from special guest Wadada Leo Smith.

Ian Tordella – Tragic Comedy (Self Produced)
Tordella puts together an unusual group with the twin guitars of Jeff Miles and Joey Carano, fueled by the deep rhythm of Danny Weller and Richard Sellers. Great tunes.

Third Story -Third Story (Self Produced)
Bassist Danny Weller assembled this group to explore ECM-type textures, and with piano powerhouse Joshua White, guitarist Jeff Miles and drummer Jens Kuross, a sublime set of pensive compositions unfold.
http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/jam-session/2013/jan/08/standout-jazz-releases-from-2012/