Tag Archives: Giovanni Di Domenico

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.

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.

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.

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.

All About Jazz Italy review by Vittorio Lo Conte

cf-1201Tetterapadequ – And the Missing R (CF 120)
Questo disco d’esordio della band italo-portoghese si distingue a partire dal fatto di essere pubblicato da una casa discografica che si è meritata in breve tempo fama e rispetto in Europa quanto negli Stati Uniti. I quattro si sono conosciuti durante lo studio al conservatorio de L’Aja, nei Paesi Bassi. La loro scelta di andare in studio appare meditata, rifiutando consapevolmente tutto quello che si impara di solito in termini di armonia e improvvisazione sugli standards.
Troviamo brani completamente improvvisati, che si svolgono per lo più lentamente, ricchi di fascino sia per il suono che per il modo in cui viene proposto l’ascolto delle interazioni fra gli strumenti. Sono momenti spesso brevi, onirici, dal sapore astratto, ma con un continuo dialogo di fondo e la voglia di comunicare insieme a tutti i costi. L’esperienza del free storico, data per scontata, a volte affiora prepotente, come in “Trucco billu billu,” altrove scompare per dare spazio a strutture che coagulano in brani dal senso sottile.

Difficilmente si adoperano toni perentorii, anzi, ci sono anche i dodici minuti di “La virtù dei forti” dedicati al silenzio (per provare la pazienza dei tecnici del suono)? Nel complesso il disco si presenta compatto, alla ricerca di momenti in cui l’intensità della comunicazione avviene attraverso un’apparente levità, che oscilla fra forze centripete e centrifughe, in un equilibrio in continuo movimento. Un tipo di approccio che loro definiscono “confusionismo”…

Tomajazz review by Yahvé M. de la Cavada

cf-120Tetterapadequ – And The Missing R (CF 120)
A veces intentarlo es suficiente. El mero hecho de arriesgarse es una recompensa y la búsqueda se convierte en el fin. And The Missing R, el CD que ha sacado el grupo Tetterapadequ recientemente en Clean Feed, es un alarde de búsqueda y de riesgo y, aunque haya momentos de gran irregularidad, la recompensa es real.

Los miembros del cuarteto están muy compenetrados y se percibe en todo momento una gran atención a lo que ocurre a su alrededor por parte de todos ellos. Los cuatro jóvenes comenzaron a tocar juntos en el club De Pater (Holanda) y su nombre proviene de un acrónimo de “De Pater Quartet” al que le falta la “R” a la que se alude en el título del disco. Desde entonces, han desarrollado una música que debe casi tanto a la composición como a la improvisación y que transita por terrenos muy variados.

No falta cierto sentido del humor, aunque la intención del cuarteto parece ser alcanzar un horizonte musical que signifique algo, o que tenga cierta trascendencia. Aunque presumimos que no hay un cerebro único detrás de la maquina, destacan inevitablemente el saxofonista Daniele Martini y el pianista Giovanni Di Domenico. Ambos tienen voces interesantes e inquietas, aunque pueden llegar a protagonizar pasajes un tanto exasperantes.

Con todo, And The Missing R es una grabación estimulante en la que se descubren nuevos matices con cada escucha. Uno de esos discos raros sobre los que me siento incapaz de decidir lo bien que están. Eso si, de bien para arriba, y subiendo.