Tag Archives: Jeb Bishop

Le Son du Grisli review by Luc Bouquet

Keefe Jackson – Seeing you See (CF 176)Toujours chez Keefe Jackson ces petits appels-apports ayleriens qui ne sont pas pour rien dans la réussite de cet enregistrement. Certes, des petites choses, pas nécessairement audibles pour un non-initié, mais démontrant l’implication d’un musicien en recherche d’un ailleurs à (re)conquérir. A cet égard, Seeing You See ne me fera pas mentir.

Alors que Jeb Bishop semblait avoir pris le dessus sur son compagnon, Jackson se fend d’un solo électrique, évitant tout appui, tant rythmique qu’harmonique. Prise de risque que s’autorise un saxophoniste (clarinettiste crépusculaire sur Eff-Time, Since Then & Close) soucieux de ne plus jamais reproduire les phrasés d’école.

Il peut, ici, dans ce strict cadre (bop ouvert, free extensible), compter sur la maîtrise absolue de ses partenaires (Jeb Bishop, Jason Roebke, Noritaka Tanaka) de la windy city. Le pourra-t-il si l’aventure se précise plus périphérique, plus éclatée comme le suggère l’inaccompli Since Then ? A suivre donc…

Jazzword review by Ken Waxman

Keefe Jackson Quartet – Seeing You See (CF 176)
Jeb Bishop Trio – 2009
One of the youngish Americans who have helped create a humanistic approach to trombone playing, Chicago’s Jeb Bishop has been omnipresent in that city’s improvised music scene as well as on gigs elsewhere and in Europe.

These CDs – serendipitously recorded almost exactly a year apart – show why he has been able to work in bands with leaders as different as saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and drummer Mike Reed. Bishop’s first disc as leader in a decade, 2009 provides 11 instances of his composing and improvising aided by bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Frank Rosaly, who individually or as rhythm team, work as often in the city as Bishop.

Part of the Roswell Rudd lineage of expressive brass playing that relates back to pre-modern stylists – New York’s Steve Swell is his First City counterpart – Bishop’s contributions are particularly notable on reedist Keefe Jackson’s disc as well. Although Roebke is also on board, another contributing factor to Bishop’s simpatico interaction with the tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist may be that both are originally Southerners – the trombonist from Raleigh, North Carolina and Jackson from Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Certainly on Seeing You See they appear to function at times as mirror images of one another. The most common strategy is for one – usually Jackson, since all the compositions are his – to state the melody and work out variations to it. Meantime the other front-line partner provides rococo and sfumato coloration. More often than not Roebke walks appropriately and drummer Noritaka Tanaka provides the necessary rolls, rebounds and pops.

With much of the material taken moderato and languendo, and most theme statements restated at the end, overall the band strategy reflects that of those unselfconscious, yet cool combos of the 1950s and 1960s, such as bands led by baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan with valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer. The slippery chromatic blowing and front-line contrapuntal voicing on a piece such as “Put My Finger on It” is a prime example, especially when à la Mulligan, an energetic drum break appears at one point. Rim shots and opposite sticking from Tanaka on “Turns to Everything”, break up the tune with an unexpected bounce. Additionally, while the trombone part is Harmon-muted, Jackson, who in the past has ventured into non-mainstream territory with a band featuring Swiss tubaist Marc Unternährer, creates a nervy tour-de-force of flying altissimo and crying reed bites.

More empathetic sounds are created by the quartet on the intermezzo that is “Close” and which ends the CD. Taken at a dawdling, relaxed pace, the chronology maintains a balance among Bishop’s restrained capillary puffs, Jackson’s low-pitched bass clarinet slurs, and the bassist’s barely-there strokes.

Limiting himself to a trio formation on his own disc, Bishop still makes the performances constantly interesting by using a variety of rhythms and voicings. Frequently employing stop-time and with Rosaly, at least here, seemingly a more aggressive drummer than Tanaka, the program flows agreeably.

One instance of this is “Dusk”; with the drummer emphasizing the back beat and the bassist slaps and slides. Here too the trombonist exhibits a collection of wide-bore licks, which are slithery and sturdy at the same time. In contrast, “Full English” depends on lightning-quick tonguing and plunger resolves from Bishop on top of Rosaly’s brush work; while the ‘boneman’s spluttering and vibrated triplets nicely balance steel-fingered-like bass-string thumps and Latinesque rim shots on “11 AM Verti Marte”.

Other tunes mix pressurized and soothing interface, usually from Bishop’s trombone. He contorts his way through various brass slurs and clucks with low-pitched tonguing on “The Elliptical Blues” and burrows deep inside the tube with rubato blows and a series of a capella tones to enliven the interlude that is “#3 (Cleo)” and which match up with the bassist’s guitar-like plunks.

The notable work on 2009 confirms that the trombonist has waited far too long to helm his own session; hopefully something that will be rectified from now on. Furthermore his playing and that of the others on Jackson’s CD also confirms that the number of creative musicians in and coming from, Chicago remains unabated.

JazzTimes review by Brent Burton

Keefe Jackson Quartet – Seeing You See (CF 176)
Keefe Jackson, a saxophonist and clarinetist, seems to fit in well in his adopted hometown of Chicago, Ill. He’s even recorded several albums for that town’s landmark jazz label, Delmark. And Seeing You See, his first for the Portuguese label Clean Feed, has a crisp, nimble sensibility that touches on two of the Windy City’s most elegant exports.

First, there’s a hint of Clifford Jordan-esque hard-bop in Jackson’s melodies, which he plays in unison with trombonist Jeb Bishop (“Maker”). Second—and most important—is the aesthetic connection that Jackson makes with Chicago’s free-jazz tradition. Jackson is a more conservative player than, say, Roscoe Mitchell or Anthony Braxton—two of the city’s most intrepid saxophonists—but his improvisational efforts display a well-organized logic that owes a lot to the Chicago school (“How-a-low”).

In between heads, the Jackson quartet, which also features bassist Jason Roebke and Noritaka Tanaka, goes out without going too far out. Jackson has a tone that, while occasionally crackling with un-tethered energy, is well rounded and seldom squawky. He is an excellent complement to Bishop, for whom a muted growl is as extreme as it gets. Underlying the brass interplay—which manages to be both bluesy and pointillistic—is a rhythm section that gives the feeling of swing even when unconnected to a regular time signature (“If You Were”). These guys do what seems to come naturally to Chicago-based outfits: They make freedom sound friendly.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

Keefe Jackson – Seeing You See (CF 176)
Keefe Jackson, saxofonista de Chicago que milita nos Lucky 7 (cujo Pluto Junkyard foi aqui distinguido como um dos discos de 2009), juntou-se ao trombonista Jeb Bishop (seu parceiro nos Lucky 7 e, durante anos, um esteio do Vandermark 5), ao contrabaixista Jason Roebke e ao baterista Noritaka Tanaka, para cultivar um free bop azougado. Seeing You See vai do hard bop clássico, com walking bass e swing (“Put My Finger On It”) à resmunguice doméstica em tarde de chuva miúda (“Since Then”), mas faltam faixas memoráveis, pese embora o virtuosismo dos intervenientes (sobretudo Bishop).

Não sendo destituído de interesse, corre o risco de não ter marca distintiva – um problema que afligia muito hard bop dos 50s/60s e que paira sobre a moderna variante.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

Jorrit Dijkstra – Pillow Circles (CF 166)

Jorrit Dijkstra, um holandês emigrado nos EUA, já aqui tinha sido elogiado a propósito de Maatjes, editado sob o nome The Flatlands Collective. Dijkstra manteve alguns dos membros deste sexteto e juntou-lhe novos elementos, obtendo um octeto de luxo cujos nomes mais sonantes são Tony Malaby e Jeb Bishop.

Com gente deste gabarito e uma instrumentação original que, além de Dijkstra (sax alto, sintetizador e electrónica), Malaby (sax tenor e soprano) e Bishop (trombone), inclui uma viola de arco (um instrumento raro no jazz), duas guitarras eléctricas (uma delas alternando com banjo), contrabaixo e bateria, obtém-se uma paleta tímbrica que faz envergonhar muitas big bands. Sobretudo porque as composições e arranjos de Dijkstra sabem tirar o máximo deste ramalhete de instrumentos.

No jazz acontece que alguns discos apresentam line-ups respeitáveis mas depois acabam poor dar a impressão de se estar a ouvir sempre o mesmo tema. Pillow Circles tem nove temas apenas identificados por números, mas nenhum corre o risco de anonimato e em todos há marcas distintivas: exuberância de sopros sobre tapete rítmico ondulante (nº34), solo de viola a tocar as estrelas (nº65), clima elegíaco, onírico e planante que deixa subentender inquietações e dissonâncias subterrâneas (nº18). Por vezes, dentro do próprio tema há mais variedade que nalguns discos inteiros: na peça nº88, viaja-se, imperceptivelmente, da serenidade à apoplexia e depois regressa-se à serenidade, e a nº19 é um caleidoscópio que passa pelos mais diversos registos.

A fechar o CD, a peça nº23, é dedicada a Jonny Greenwood, guitarrista dos Radiohead, e é difícil não ver na proeminência dada às guitarras e ao ambiente épico e denso, um aceno à banda britânica.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Keefe Jackson and Quartet Notch Off A Winner

Keefe Jackson Quartet – Seeing you See (CF 176)
Chicago. I’ve written about some of the very lively music coming out of there on numerous occasions. Today, another CD by some of the brightest in the firmament. Keefe Jackson, with his tenor, his bass clarinet and his jazz compositions, leads a quartet on the new Seeing You See (Clean Feed 176). It’s a superb combination of musical vehicles and lustrous blowing.

Keefe has his own sound and approach. He is not given to the continuous unleashing of extra-timbral resonances (nothing wrong with that, though), but concentrates more on creating interesting lines. He is in terrific form on this album. Then there’s Jeb Bishop, a trombonist that perfectly aligns stylistically with Jackson. He too is after the expressively outgoing linear improvisation. And he happens to be one of the most formidable trombone talents to come along in quite some time. The rhythm section finds the virtually ideal embodiment in Jason Roebke on bass and Noritaka Tanaka on drums. They can swing strongly or take a more diffuse freetime approach, or something in between the two (which may be hardest to pull off) depending on the character of the piece at hand. And they do it with seeming ease, which belies the hard work and dedicated realization of talent that it takes to get to their level.

I find just about everything that this loose confederation of Chicago cats put across to be important music. This one takes the legacy of Ornette’s classic pianoless quartets and builds a new, sparklingly clean-edged edifice on top of it. Highly recommended.

All About Jazz Italy review by Luca Canini

Jorrit Dijkstra –   Pillow Circles (CF 166)
Rotterdam, Lisbona, New York, Chicago. Come nella settimana enigmistica, unite i puntini e comparirà la scritta Pillow Circles.

Il percorso immaginario lungo il quale si muove il disco inizia da Rotterdam, la città del North Sea Jazz Festival, che nel 2009 ha commissionato il qui presente lavoro al sassofonista Jorrit Dijkstra. Olandese lui, olandesi altri tre membri della band: il violista Oene Van Geel e i chitarristi Raphael Vanoli e Paul Pallesen. Seconda tappa Lisbona, dove ha sede la benemerita Clean Feed, la Black Saint del nuovo millennio, sempre pronta a captare i segnali di vita provenienti dal pianeta “jazz dei giorni nostri”. Una capatina a Brooklyn, New York, per raccattare Tony Malaby, e poi via verso Chicago, per affidare le chiavi del gruppo alla sezione ritmica composta da Jason Roebke e Frank Rosaly, e per imbarcare un autentico fuoriclasse come il trombonista Jeb Bishop.

Messo insieme un ottetto del genere, ci vuole una scaletta all’altezza della situazione. E le nove composizioni scelte per la track list finale, distinguibili soltanto dal numero di serie, lo sono, eccome. La firma è quella di Dijkstra, così come le dediche alla Vandermark che accompagnano ciascuno dei brani. La prima freccia va subito a bersaglio: “Pillow Circle 34,” non a caso dedicata a Henry Threadgill, coglie nel segno grazie a una progressione armonica che sembra presa da un disco dei Very Very Circus.

Più astratta e scomposta la successiva “Pillow Circle 41,” marchiata a fuoco dal banjo di Paul Pallesen. La dedica a Fred Frith dice tutto di “Pillow Circle 18,” mentre “Pillow Circle 55,” composta pensando a George Lewis, offre al trombone di Jeb Bishop una splendida ribalta. Il meglio arriva però in chiusura, con la romantica “Pillow Circle 23,” dedicata a Jonny Greenwood, chitarrista dei Radiohead, brano dagli equilibri timbrico-armonici praticamente perfetti, che sa tanto di dolce inquietudine.

Rotterdam, Lisbona, New York, Chicago. Il viaggio è lungo, ma ne vale la pena.

Village Voice reviews by Tom Hull

Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth – Deluxe (CF 174)
I used to be able to ID these cars: cover looks like a mid-1950s Oldsmobile (1956?), the sketch inside more like a 1959 Caddy, the ne plus ultra of tailfins. Lightcap’s a bassist, b. 1971, gets around, third album under his own name after two Fresh Sound New Talents. Runs a big horn line here, with tenor saxophonists Chris Cheek and Tony Malaby on all cuts, and alto saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo joining in on three of eight. Craig Taborn plays Wurlitzer, and Gerald Cleaver is the drums. Sounds like a freewheeling lineup, but they mostly hum along in sync. I used to have a monster Olds: a 1965, with a 425 cu. in. V-8, 4 bbl. carb, put out about 360 hp, ran real smooth keeping all that power bottled up under its big hood, kind of like this record. B+(*)

John Hébert Trio – Spiritual Lover (CF 175)
Bassist, from Louisiana, based in Jersey City, shows up on a lot of good records, now has two under his own name. Trio includes Gerald Cleaver on drums and Benoit Delbecq on piano, clarinet, and synth — mostly piano, but the switches muddy that somewhat. If you care to, you can focus on the bass and be rewarded for your efforts. Otherwise, Delbecq is a fine pianist — I recommend his 2005 album, Phonetics, but you get a taste of that here. B+(**)

Lawnmower – West (CF 178)
The label really seems to like group names, something I try to minimize in my filing: most seem like fronts for some principal, and even when group distribution is genuine so many group names become difficult to follow. I originally tried filing this under drummer Luther Gray: he produced and wrote the (very brief) liner notes. Don’t see any song credits. Of course, the person you hear is alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, who is always out front. Quartet is filled out with two guitarists, Geoff Farina and Dan Littleton, who don’t make much of a mark. Some bits of Americana worked into the mix, giving it a bit of folk-gospel roots, but recast as free jazz, of course. B+(**)

Keefe Jackson Quartet – Seeing You See (CF 176)
Tenor saxophonist, also plays bass clarinet, from Fayetteville, Arkansas, moved to Chicago in 2001, third album since 2006. Quartet includes ex-Vandermark 5 trombonist Jeb Bishop, who also plays alongside Jackson in Lucky 7s, plus Jason Roebke on bass and Noritaka Tanaka on drums. Snakey free jazz, probably more interesting for Bishop’s runs and smears, although Jackson can pull off some interesting lines. B+(**)

Carlos Bica + Matéria-Prima (CF 180)
Bassist, from Portugal, based in Germany, has a half-dozen or more records since 1996, four with his trio Azul (Frank Möbius on guitar, Jim Black on drums). Not sure if Prima-Matéria is a distinct group — doesn’t show up on Bica’s website project list nor on trumpeter Matthias Schriefl’s MySpace page (Schreefpunk, European TV Brass Trio, Brazilian Motions, deujazz, 2 Generations of Trumpets, United Groove-O-Rama, Schmittmenge Meier, Mutantenstadt). Group also includes Mário Delgado on electric guitar, João Lobo on drums and percussion, and João Paulo on piano, keyboards, and accordion. Assembled from three concerts — the one patch of applause comes at a bit of surprise, even if well earned. Rather patchy, the main shift turning on Paulo’s accordion, which puts the band in a mood for tango or something folkloric; otherwise they have a tendency toward soundtrack, with three placenames in the titles. Still, Schriefl is a smoldering trumpet player, and this never settles into the ordinary. B+(***)

Point of Departure review by Art Lange

Keefe Jackson Quartet – Seeing You See (CF 176)
Previously found at the head of a sextet, Fast Citizens, and the double-that-size Project Project (both have discs on Delmark) – bands which demonstrate his burgeoning compositional chops while serving as outlet for some of Chicago’s most potent soloists – Arkansas-native and Windy City-transplant Jackson here ups the ante by downsizing the manpower. With his name on the marquee and having provided all ten of the program’s diverse tunes and/or strategies for improvisation (from the buoyant “Put My Finger On It” to the airy textural exploration “Since Then,” the fanfare of “Word Made Fresh” to the dirge-like “Close”), there’s no doubt who’s in charge; nevertheless, there are contrasting aspects within his own musical nature that result in a yin/yang coexistence of tensions in the group dynamic. For example, the quartet format ensures plenty of solo space, and one attractive source of tension is the way in which Jackson’s tenor saxophone improvisations balance ardor with control, spontaneity with thoughtfulness, such as the momentum created by his asymmetrical phrases and surprising accents in “If You Were,” or his eruption of notes in “Eff-time.” With trombonist Jeb Bishop as ebullient frontline foil, contributing racy escapades and a mastery of buzzing, growling, snarling mutes, the intensity level soars; their relationship is frequently reminiscent of the Archie Shepp/Roswell Rudd ‘60s partnership, especially their tart harmonization of themes, episodes of counterpoint and overlapping comments (heard on “Maker” and “Turns to Everything”), and the seemingly spontaneous riffs that twist the music off on unexpected tangents. By working in so many similar, small but effectively arranged details, Jackson escalates the tension between the expressive solos and their structural settings. The rhythm section, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Noritaka Tanaka, offers its own layer of tension – subtle rather than rambunctious, they rumble rather than roar, and occasionally evaporate completely. There’s nothing particularly new here; it’s an uncommon mixture of the familiar and the distinctive that sets this music apart from the crowd.

Jazzin review by Nikola Marković

Keefe Jackson Quartet – Seeing You See (CF 176)

Još jedna u nizu uspešnih saradnji muzičara sa čikaške džez scene 

Kolektivni duh avangardnih džezera iz „Vetrovitog grada“ po ko zna koji put rezultovao je novom postavom sačinjenom od dobro nam poznatih muzičara. Kvartet tenor saksofoniste Keefea Jacksona dopunjavaju preiskusni trombonista Jeb Bishop (The Engines, Lucky 7’s), basista Jason Roebke (Mike Reed’s People, Places & Things) i japanski bubnjar Noritaka Tanaka, a Seeing You See je njihov debitantski album.

Kako to već biva u svetu džeza, a naročito na razvijenim scenama poput čikaške, prvo izdanje nekog benda često ne predstavlja početničko razrađivanje aranžerskih ideja i međusobno upoznavanje muzičara, već okupljanje zrelih improvizatora i starih saradnika koji u određenom stilskom idiomu plivaju poput riba u vodi. Takav je slučaj i sa Keefe Jackson Quartetom.

Džez kritika o plejadi mladih čikaških asova i njihovim radovima često govori kao o „post-Vandermark eri“. No dok su kultni sastav Vandermark 5 i njegov lider skloni eklektici u kojoj ima mesta i za fank/rok/pank primese, ostatak scene je mahom okrenut tradiciji i fri-džez varijacijama s uporištem u šezdesetim godinama prošlog veka. Pri takvom odnosu snaga naročito je zanimljiva uloga Jeba Bishopa, koji je po godinama i stilu bliže Vandermarku, ali poslednjih godina pretežno radi s mlađom ekipom i ima ulogu svojevrsnog mentora i spone između dve generacije muzičara.

Stoga i njegovo učešće na albumu Seeing You See možemo posmatrati kao veoma blagotvorno po Keefea Jacksona. Iako se talentovani tenorista kreće po utabanim post-bap i fri-džez stazama, zapazićemo i pomake u odnosu na njegov nekadašnji bendliderski projekat Fast Citizens. U postavi s šestoricom muzičara bilo je više prostora za interakciju, unisone i komponovane deonice, dok format kvarteta u prvi plan stavlja dvojicu duvača i njihova sola. Tako je Jackson konačno u prilici da u punoj meri istraži sopstvene instrumentalne potencijale na tenor saksofonu i bas klarinetu, i on to obilato koristi.

Njegove solo deonice nešto su nežnije i diskretnije nego što bi se očekivalo od prosečnog fri-džez tenoriste i poseduju specifičan „ženstveni“ kvalitet, a tada i očekivani odlasci u vriskove i skvičanje dobijaju osobeni šarm. Jacksonovo poigravanje s propuhom vazduha i intenzitetom odsviranih sola obeležilo je ovogodišnji beogradski koncert s Mezei Szilárd Trijom. Čikaški saksofonista i ovde koristi iste metode umešno dovodeći sola do tačke ključanja, ali retko kada se prepuštajući potpunoj ekstazi i raskalašnoj svirci. Rezultat je specifičan dramatični ugođaj gde nema klasičnog „razrešenja“ kroz gradiranje instrumentalnih deonica, a slušalačka tenzija je omeđena samo otvarajućim i završnim temama u numerama.

Za muževnu svirku zadužen je Jeb Bishop, koji se iz petnih žila upinje ne bi li pokazao koliko trombon može da bude moćna alatka u džezu. Biće tu i rafalnih otvorenih sola i atraktivne upotrebe prigušivača, i čiste agresije i diskretne pratnje. Ritam sekcija svira mahom slobodno, i nešto ređe u baperskom duhu, doprinoseći dramatici ploče kroz konstantnu međuigru kontrabasa i bubnjeva, iz koje se uzdižu duvačka sola.

Jackson je autor svih kompozicija. Teme su melodične i zahvaljujući Bishopovom trombonu imaju određen „bluesy“ kvalitet, a osvrću se na različite fri tradicije, od Colemana do Dolphyja i Aylera. Jedino što bi im se možda moglo zameriti je manjak originalnosti, premda je solidan autorski potencijal nagovešten u numeri Turns To Everything, gde nakon baperskog uvoda slede nešto moderniji ritmovi i interesantni brejkovi s kontrabasom u glavnoj ulozi.

Da snimci koji se nalaze na albumu nisu napravljeni još 2008. godine, rekli bismo kako je Keefe Jackson napredovao kao aranžer i instrumentalista u odnosu na pređašnje radove. No pošto smo upoznati s datumom izrade, ostaje nam da zaključimo kako se ovaj čikaški muzičar bolje oseća i više pruža u malim ansamblima, gde bi se našao u glavnoj instrumentalnoj ulozi. Nadajmo se da je ovo samo prvi u dugačkom nizu albuma novog Jacksonovog kvarteta.