Tag Archives: Jim Black

Jazz Word review by Ken Waxman

CF 282Trumpets and Drums – Live in Ljubljana (CF 282)
Kaze – Tornado (Circum Libra Records)
Taking legendary musical battles like those of King Oliver vs. Freddie Keppard as a starting point, trumpet duals are as old as Jazz itself. Nonetheless unreserved experimentation, which has characterized the best improvised music over the past few decades, has transformed the idea of so-called cutting contests into episodes of cooperation. You can note it in these CDs which both feature two trumpeters with rhythmic accompaniment. Not only is there no attempt by any of the four brass men involved to Roy Eldridge-like blow his partner out of the picture, but despite a congruence of instruments, neither instrument sounds remotely like the other.
One of innovative pianist Satoko Fujii`s many working groups, Kaze is a Gallic-Nipponese unit which pairs the pianist and her trumpet playing husband Natsuki Tamura –both Japanese – with two representatives of Lyon`s creative music scene: trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins. With five tracks, composed by Fujii, Tamura or Orins, extended techniques from all concerned are used to advance a program of high quality modern sounds.

Sounds and extended techniques are the root of Live in Ljubljana as well. A century removed from mainstream Jazz, New York trumpeters Nate Wooley and Peter Evans can play in the tradition, but spend most of their time using brass impulses as sound design sources, in this case adding Evans’ piccolo trumpet and Wooley amplifier to the mix. While the drum power via American Jim Black and Briton Paul Lytton is twice that of Tornado, a chordal instrument is lacking, plus further wave forms arrive via Black’s electronics. Accordingly abstract improvisation is the order of the day with two lengthy tracks entitled “Beginning” and “End”.

Because of the Live in Ljubljana line-up, individual identification is practically impossible. The acoustic percussion for instance is devoted mostly to disconnected notions which austerely wipe drum tops or singly strike cymbals. Added as an intermittent ostinato is a sizzling, electronic process that suggests amoeba-like quivers. On top of the continuum, the trumpeters squeeze, spew and suck miniature and mutilated split tones from mouthpieces and valves. Despite the wispy pops and agitated pig-snorting that occasionally surface, the narrative remains balanced enough to eventually solidify as a protoplasmic mass which is a much electro as brassy. Each track reaches an appropriate climax. “Beginning” is completed when one’s horn’s alp-horn-like echoes and the other’s contemplative tremolo flutters blend as a concentrated drone. “End” ends as a race into high-pitched hide-and-seek chase between the two brasses is brought up short by metronomic drum patterns. The coda exposes an even sparser sequence which culminates with what sounds like “Taps” deconstructed as both explore their horns’ innards.

As compositional as it is improvised, Tornado balances its trumpet shenanigans with poised story telling from the pianist and dedicated swing drumming. On “Wao” for instance, Fujii uses positioned glissandi to wring a linear melody out of Daffy-Duck-like slurping and whistling from the brass men with the same ease in which a pseudo-romantic keyboard exposition corrals the same trumpet pumps into some canny harmonies.

Even more representative are two tracks composed by the pianist, “Triangle” and the title tune. On the latter Fujii’s keyboard skills both prod and bolster the trumpeters from outputting pressurized and valve-splitting textures into creating notably sympathetic swing that takes in heraldic gestures and Spanish tinges. She builds this bridge with spectacular pianism that instinctively moves from a sardonic variant of “Chopsticks” to internal piano harp smack and plucks when needed.

Sporadically as abstract as Wooley’s and Evans’s work is on the other CD, Tamura’s and Pruvost’s split tone brass waves are propelled from multiphonic acrobatic and clownish excesses to processional parallelism by cunning links from the pianist and Orins. As outgoing with scene-setting rim shots and bangs on this piece as he is reticent on “Tornado”, Orins also demonstrates how rhythmic fulfillment can result from concentrated on a buoyant beat without involving thick or hard tones. Meanwhile Fujii’s somber percussiveness sweeps the horns’ crying triplets and show-off staccato spews into a straightforward theme which bonds as it exposes appropriate excitement.
In the end the watchword that unites both these two high-quality sessions is cooperation. And the fascination lies in observing how each achieves it.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

CF 282Nate Wooley/Peter Evans/Jim Black/Paul Lytton – Trumpets and Drums. Live in Ljubljana (CF 282)
Afirmar que Nate Wooley y Peter Evans son dos de los trompetistas más pujantes en la actualidad no es faltar a la verdad. Ambos están manteniendo durante los últimos años una gran actividad dentro de la escena del jazz y especialmente dentro de la libre improvisación. Trumpets and Drums recoge la actuación de ambos en la 53ª edición del Ljubljana Jazz Festival en junio de 2012. Para hacer honor al título los trompetistas fueron acompañados por dos pesos pesados de la batería: el británico Paul Lytton y el eternamente joven en apariencia Jim Black. El primero es un músico habitual en la discografía de Wooley prácticamente desde el inicio de su carrera, con el que ha grabado en diferentes formatos, y que a su vez también ha llegado a grabar con Evans. El segundo ha sido integrante durante los últimos meses de distintos proyectos de Peter Evans. El CD que recoge esta actuación incluye únicamente dos pistas (“Beginning” y “End”, de 34 y 21 minutos respectivamente). Las improvisaciones de los cuatro músicos permanecen abiertas al diálogo de principio a fin. Ambos trompetistas ya habían grabado juntos con anterioridad, aunque a diferencia de esas ocasiones aquí prima un cierto ambiente relajado, favorecido por los espacios que ambos músicos disfrutan tanto en solitario como acompañados por los bateristas. Lejos de plantear un tour de force trompetístico, ambos muestran sus cartas, pero sin que el terreno se convierta en un campo de batalla, en un mero lugar lleno de exhibicionismo hueco. Mostrando cada uno de ellos su manera de afrontar la improvisación y de exprimir el uso de su instrumento, logran que cada uno de los temas sea un caleidoscopio que muestre los diferentes enfoques que cada uno de los músicos adopta frente a la creación instantánea. Reflejo de un buen concierto, su música no para de sorprender de principio a fin.

Downbeat review by Peter Margasak

Few trumpeters find and develop disparate contexts and projects as assiduously as Nate Wooley, a fiercely original and curious horn player who straddles the divide between jazz and abstract improvisation as if it was a mere crack in the sidewalk. These two new recordings capture him in wildly different settings, for which he masterfully calibrates his sound and approach to suit the needs of each, yet  his personality shines through on both.

CF 282Nate Wooley/Peter Evans/Jim Black/Paul Lytton – Trumpets and Drums: Live in Ljubljana (CF 282)
Live in Ljubljana is a fully improvised quartet set that puts him in the company of two of his most trusted duo partners: fellow trumpeter Peter Evans and drummer Paul Lytton. Drummer Jim Black, a regular member of the quintet led by Evans, rounds out the Trumpets and Drums quartet. For the majority of the album’s two lengthy pieces, wryly titled “Beginning” and “End,” the horn players dig into their huge bags of extended technique, blowing sibilant growls, unpitched breaths, machine-like sputters, brittle whinnies, and more. But rather that come off as a predictable catalog of sounds, the pair reveal a stunning connection, playing off one another with rare empathy and ensemble-oriented focus. But the bond between Wooley and Evans is hardly the only connection at work here. Lytton and Black contribute a veritable thicket of frictive clatter and percolating chaos, but never at the sake of forward propulsion.

CF 280Nate Wooley Sextet – (Sit In) the Throne of Friendship (CF 280)
(Sit In) the Throne of Friendship was recorded with a dazzling, resourceful sextet. The disc not only shows off Wooley’s deep jazz roots on demonstrates his startling growth as a composer and arranger. The album opens with a sparkling adaptation of Randy Newman’s “Old Man on the Farm,” setting the tone with some bracing multi-linear improvisation between himself, reedist Josh Sinton, and tuba player Dan Peck. Wooley deftly scurries between clarion-toned lines that suggest the influence of Dave Douglas, especially the half-valved fluidity, and the scuffed, striated sounds generated with extended technique, fitting both aesthetics into the flow of his compositions. Wooley’s multipartite tunes make exceptional use of his scrappy ensemble, giving them a deceptive orchestral quality. While there’s little about this session that sounds like Birth of the Cool, the agility of Peck reminds me of Bill Barber’s smooth, dominant presence on that Miles Davis classic, while the sometimes shimmering, sometimes dissonant vibraphone lines of Matt Moran adds an additional layer of cool to the proceedings.

Wooley’s tunes are packed with attractive melodies that wind and wend though ever-shifting timbres thanks to inventive, rich arrangements that keep the sonic landscape in constant motion. There are plenty of solos here, but there’s no blowing over cycling forms. Wooley’s technical imagination and mastery of jazz fundamentals has been established already, but this new sextet effort definitely adds notches to his belt.

Free Jazz review by Janus and Karl

CF 282Trumpets and Drums: Live in Ljubljana (CF 282)
Listening to free jazz while driving is relaxing, inspiring, and elevating (at least for us). Usually it is more fun if you play it loud, even if the stereos are not so great (if they are: even better). But this is not the point: the best moments are those when you drive through the city in summertime and you have to stop at traffic lights. When your car windows are open and then one of these young guys with their FIATs or BMWs has to stop next to you, listening to some crappy techno stuff (mostly male drivers) or Katy Perry bullshit. It goes Boom-Boom-Boom-Boom plus hysterical vocals. But then they realize this completely different music which comes from the car next to him or her. They look at you as if you were an escapee from a mental asylum (and that’s basically what we really are and proud to be). It makes it even worse if you give them your nicest smile.

If you want to have a similar experience one of the albums which is perfect for this is “Trumpets and Drums: Live in Ljublana”.

What we have is two trumpets – Nate Wooley and Peter Evans – and two drummers – Jim Black and Paul Lytton. Wooley has a duo with Lytton and one with Evans, Evans has worked with both drummers before. Now the result of this project is not a simple double duo but a real quartet, which means that “Trumpets and Drums” is not the typical super group you might expect, it is an aural sculpture. There’s no showing off of extraordinary techniques (something especially Evans has often been accused of), instead you get a lesson in listening and in exquisite interplay.

Nate Wooley is the one who is interested in weird sounds (he uses all kinds of material to manipulate his trumpet sound) which create a tight knit carpet on which Evans can soar like a helicopter (it sometimes actually sounds like that) with his fantastic technique. Lytton builds up a massive texture of percussion sounds as if it was raining pieces of wood, in combination with Black, who just intersperses drum sounds here and there. The first ten minutes are a real fireworks of smack sounds, extended techniques, and marvelous circular breathing solos and duos, before the band takes a deep breath with Evans and Wooley as a duo presenting a dialogue of snoring animals. Here there is a lot of scratching, creaking, gasping, panting, and fizzling, there is an enormous velocity, like musical high-speed yackety-yak (in a positive way), which raises the track to incredible peaks. At the same time all the musicians never lose humanity and tenderness, as you may listen in the central part of the composition, above a gobbledygook ventriloquism by Wooley that reconnects the chopped rhythmic phrasings, the really tender voice of Evans trumpet driving us through the obstacles.

Very welcome in the whole picture is a sober but meaningful use of electronic in the shape of lengthened low chords streams introducing a classical structure in the finale that takes place amidst trembling chirpings, damped chains and far interferences. When everything seems about to vanish a last, long, suffocating crescendo overwhelms all the possible listening directions. The musicians launch a musical screwball comedy here, throwing sounds, ideas and riffs to and fro before it ends with almost classic beautiful trumpet melodies and similar trills as in the beginning. This is maybe the greatest evidence of the success of such a peculiar instrumental amalgam. They don’t give you any choice, the only paths you can follow in the composition is theirs, no other way round.

“End”, the second track, even tops the whole thing. The first minutes find the musicians almost struggling with each other, Wooley just adding the same monotonous animal-like sound and Evans pacing around like a bee gone mad until Wooley changes his way completely, which is commented by Evans and the drummers with a march as if they were going to war. The tightened dialogue between the two trumpets, sometimes dubbing each other’s riffs, some other through violent juxtaposition, is breathless. Only a very dark electronic riff brings some relief in spite of the trumpets keeping up speed.

The music is so intense, it’s like an overheated pressure cooker which is about to burst.

We have asked ourselves why the other road users are so perplexed. Is it simply that they are not used to such sounds and compositional structures? Or is it that they are scared of the self-determination, the dynamics and the freedom inherent to this music? Are they afraid of expanding their awareness including all the implications that follow (as Joseph Chonto put it in the liner notes to Charles Gayle’s “Touchin’ on Trane”)? Or are they simply not to blame because they can’t immerge from immaturity which has been imposed on them by social structures?

Apart from all these questions it is music absolutely beautiful to listen to, the album is a constant surprise box. Just enjoy.

The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

CF 282Joe Morris/Agustí Fernández/Nate Wooley – From the Discrete to the Particular (Relative Pitch)
Nate Wooley/Peter Evans/Jim Black/Paul Lytton – Trumpets and Drums (Live in Ljubljana) (CF 282)
Nate Wooley Sextet – (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship (CF 280)
CF 280Nate Wooley is among a group of distinguished younger trumpeters redefining the sonic possibilities of the instrument. More than that though, he combines both rare invention and rare taste across a stylistic range that stretches from free improvisation to his own version of postbop.

The trio of Wooley, guitarist Joe Morris and pianist Agustí Fernández that appears on From the Discrete to the Particular has its antecedents in Morris’ prior duos with Wooley and Fernández. It’s free improvisation of the first rank, with each of the seven pieces a developed musical dialogue defining its own timbres and shape, whether it’s the pointillist sputters of the opening “Automatos”, the flurries of discrete sounds that firstmark “As Expected” or the oblique harmonic language of “Bilocation” that flowers into an evanescent lyricism created by all three musicians. “Membrane” suggests an early John Cage prepared piano sonata extended to a collective. The longest pieces, “Hieratic” and “Chumsof Chance”, are works of transformation, whether Morris sounding like the interior of a piano on the former and a bowed cello on the latter; Fernández mounting a virtuosic keyboard assault or creating a resonant soundscape or Wooley drawing out pained multiphonics or assembling wild scratching sounds.

Trumpets and Drums (Live in Ljubljana) is a dialogue between the two fundamental sonic components of the title. If there’s a martial tradition to trumpet and drum music there’s also a mystical one, as with Joshua and the battle of Jericho, but stronger still in the Tibetan Buddhist ritual music that combines long bass trumpets with metal and skin percussion. The quartet is built on several developed affinities: Wooley has long-running duos with both fellow trumpeter Peter Evans and drummer Paul Lytton; Evans has played with Lytton as a guest with the Parker-Guy-Lytton trio and Jim Black has played drums in Evans’ quartet. The performance is divided into two long segments, entitled “Beginning” and “End” and within those parameters there are moments of near silence, whispered trumpet tones and air through horns, gentle percussive rattlings, eerie scrapes and rustlings that demand rapt attention. Quavering electronics might arise from Wooley’s amplifier or from Black’s expanded kit. Elsewhere the reare moments of incendiary power, elemental music focused on mysteries of intensity and pitch.

The Nate Wooley Sextet is a variation on the Quintet that recorded 2010’s (Put Your) Hands Together. A forum for Wooley’s compositions, (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship retains bass clarinetist/baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton, vibraphonist Matt Moran and drummer Harris Eisenstadt while bassist Eivind Opsvik either alternates with newly arrived tuba player Dan Peck or they appear together. The style suggests the Blue Note ‘free’ school and the simultaneous presence of vibraphone and bass clarinet emphasizes the Eric Dolphy influence (“Make Your Friend Feel Loved” seems to reference Dolphy’s “G.W.”). This is exploratory, varied music, alive with passion and dialogue. It’s also exuberant, whether Sinton shouting through his baritone or Peck crafting an unaccompanied introduction. While Wooley is as ‘athome’ with free improvisation as any musician, the forms here emphasize the expressiveness of his lines: on the mournful “My Story, My Story” he combines variations of pitch and inflection to achieve an emotional depth equal to that of Miles Davis or Don Cherry, rare terrain for any trumpeter.

All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

CF 282Nate Wooley/Peter Evans/Jim Black/Paul Lytton – Trumpet and Drums: Live in Ljubljana (CF 282)
Given the unorthodox instrumentation, there’s a little more than meets the eyes and ears on this quartet effort recorded at a jazz festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Each musician is highly respected within the progressive and avant jazz communities. Yet the band doesn’t bridge the playing field with tireless bashing and cacophonous exchanges, which are components that may seem inherent under the assumption that the unorthodox group format may be conducive to a free-form crash and burn contest. On the contrary, they engage in a wide-open platform, tinted with subtle electronics, harrowing soundscapes, nimble contrasts, playful interludes and gushing apexes all immersed within an improvisational schema.

Trumpeters Nate Wooley and Peter Evans extract about every conceivable sound from their horns via breathy or raspy intonations and other nuances that are at times, difficult to separate from drummer Jim Black’s faint electronics treatments. Containing two extended pieces, Black and drummer Paul Lytton  use space as an added voice, but also support the hornists with smack, dab, and hustling asymmetrical grooves that sort of defies time and space.

On the first track “Beginning,” the band imparts dense mosaics, manifested by the trumpeters’ brawny extended notes, summoning a bizarre soundscape amid sublime patterns and offsetting statements. Here, the drummers provide additional color and shadings with periodic breaks between activities. Black’s concise use of electronics fuse mystical or haunting undertones into the big picture, although the quartet eventually builds up steam and rises to a zenith with lofty crescendos.

Undulating currents prevail as they toggle between first and tenth gears. But “End” offers more delectable twists and turns, where atmospherics and rich textures interconnect the artists’ variable momentum. The drummers help shape the proceedings, embedded with the band’s give and take exchanges and spooky backdrops. Moreover, the hornists intertwine some soul-drenched choruses into their expressive phrasings and drawling notes. So, if you’re in need of something out of the ordinary when considering the avant-garde jazz spectrum, this vastly inventive and cunning program may fulfill that requirement or perhaps exceed all preconceived expectations.

Le Son du Grisli review by Luc Bouquet

CF 282Trumpets and Drums – Live in Ljubljana (CF 282)
Avec tambours et trompettes, Jim Black, Paul Lytton (tambours), Nate Wooley et Peter Evans (trompettes) déterminent quelques francs territoires.

Une première improvisation est là qui explore la périphérie : drones métalliques pour les uns, fourmillements et effeuillements chez les autres (encore que l’excès de rythme pointe parfois chez Black). Les trompettistes, eux, restent solidaires, modulent leurs souffles, font de leur salivaire un émoi, battissent un court chaos, explorent toujours.

Une seconde improvisation affirme que jazz et rythme font encore sens. Longs phrasés des deux trompettistes avant hautes turbulences de tous, le ver est dans le fruit de cette improvisation dégagée de tout cliché. Cela se passait le 30 juin 2012 dans le cadre du Jazz Festival de Ljubljana.

All About Jazz Italy review by Maurizio Comandini

Carlos Bica & Azul – Things About (CF 239)
4 stelle
Il bel trio Azul, guidato da Carlos Bica, arriva al quinto album, dopo oltre quindici anni dall’inizio della collaborazione de l contrabbassista portoghese con il chitarrista tedesco Frank Moebus e con il batterista americano Jim Black. Forse il segreto di questo perfetto amalgama sta proprio nella dilatazione dei tempi e nella capacità di lasciare passare per il giusto tempo fra una collaborazione e l’altra. Non c’è spazio per la routine, il lirismo dei brani è alimentato dalla passione e dall’intelligenza, la capacità di scambiarsi ruolo all’interno del trio è ormai proverbiale. Il chitarrista Frank Moebus è preciso e puntuale, con un suono che irradia luce e splendore. Il suo fraseggio è sempre ben meditato, spesso angolare e sofisticato, privo di esagerazioni che in questo contesto sarebbero deleterie. La batteria nervosa e intelligente di Jim Black è ormai una garanzia che si dilata dai progetti a proprio nome per alimentare anche altri progetti ben selezionati.

Il contrabbasso di Carlos Bica è presente ed elegante, con un suono legnoso e carico di sapori antichi, un perfetto padrone di casa che lascia spazio ai propri ospiti intervenendo quando la situazione lo richiede, senza mai farsi prendere la mano dalla voglia del proscenio.

Musica Jazz review by Boddi

CARLOS BICA & AZUL – Things About (CF 239)
Il longevo trio Azul conferma di possedere una cifra composita, nella quale si individuano punti fermi ed elementi ricorrenti, frutto di coerenza stilistica. Primo fra tutti, un portato melodico ricco di riferimenti: il retroterra della tradizione portoghese; l’inclina-zione per la canzone popolare che aveva caratterizzato la ricerca di Charlie Haden (certamente con la Liberation Music Orchestra ma anche nell’incontro del 1990 con lo specialista di chitarra portoghese Carlos Paredes, documentato in «Dialogues»); una cantabilità che a tratti può richiamare il miglior pop. Lo stile asciutto e pregnante di Bica ben si sposa con il variegato spettro di approcci e dinamiche di Black. Frequentatore anche della scena olandese, il tedesco Möbus evidenzia una modernità di fraseggio e una scelta timbrica che in qualche misura si colloca in un’area contigua ai vari Frisell, Rosenwinkel e Shepik. Il trio opera come un collettivo compatto, con un’interazione calibrata, efficace e attenta agli spazi e al respiro delle esecuzioni, raggiungendo gli esiti più felici nel brano conclusivo.

Musica Jazz reviews by Civelli

TIM BERNE – Insomnia (CF 215)



TIM BERNE / Bruno Chevillon – Old And Unwise (CF 221)
Corrono quasi quattordici anni tra la registrazione di «Insomnia» e la sua pubblicazione. Berne vi riunisce una compagine di prim’ordine e il risul-tato sono due lunghi brani a media velocità di circa mezz’ora ciascuno,lungo i quali si alternano configura-zioni strumentali differenti. Danno bella prova di sé un misurato Black e la chitarra acustica a dodici corde (e anticonvenzionale) di Ducret in apertura di Open, Coma, la cui l’intensità si mantiene più costanterispetto a The Proposal. «Old And Unwise» è invece unospasso per chi ama la formuladel duo. A seconda dei brani, tutti architettati secondo logiche a séstanti, Berne e Chevillon (che firmail disco da contitolare) sono spinti a contrastarsi o assecondarsi: a fineascolto si ha la netta sensazioneche ogni area degli strumenti sia stata esplorata. Raccomandato.