Tag Archives: Kresten Osgood

Jazz World review by Ken Waxman

Michael Blake / Kresten Osgood – Control This (CF 136)
Saxophonist Michael Blake’s and drummer Kresten Osgood’s Control This Clean Feed CF 136 CD has a characteristic track as well, which is as post-modern as it is traditional. Duke Ellington’s Creole Love Call is re-imagined by the Copenhagen-based percussionist’s hand-drummed ruffs, flams and back-beat bounces complementing overdubbed soprano, alto and tenor saxophone timbres from the Vancouverite-turned New Yorker. Layering his output so each reed is distinctively harmonized – and simultaneously in focus – Blake’s overall thematic variation is grainy and tough, with one horn honking, another mellow and the third always in the altissimo range. Reed work on others of the seven tracks ranges from breathy and romantic to flat-line flutters to jolly dance-like, as Osgood’s patterning encompasses bass drum whaps and cymbal rattles. In sync throughout on Elephants are Afraid of Mice, the two demonstrate how the drummer’s rim shots and press rolls don’t disrupt, but extend Blake’s variants which encompass spetrofluctuation and body-tube echoes on soprano plus dense repeated tenor saxophone trills.

Clean Feed on All About Jazz New York “Best of 2009” list

Best Record Label


Best New Release 2009
Herculaneum – Herculaneum III (CF 140)
Steve Adams Trio – Surface Tension (CF 131)

Best New Release 2009 – Honorable Mention 
Denman Maroney Quintet – Udentity (CF 137)
Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157)
Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet – Things Have Got To Change (CF 150)
Michael Blake/Kresten Osgood – Control This (CF 136)
Paul Dunmall’s Sun Quartet – Ancient and Future Airs (CF 138 )

Renku – In Coimbra (CF 162)
Steve Swell – Planet Dream (CF 148 )
Trespass Trio – “…was there to illuminate the night sky…” (CF 149)

Best Debut Release
Nobuyasu Furuya Trio – Bendowa (CF 159)

Best Original Album Artwork 
Avram Fefer – Ritual (CF 145)

All About Jazz review by John Sharpe

Michael Blake / Kresten Osgood – Control This (CF 136)
Canadian saxophonist Michael Blake and Danish drummer Kresten Osgood have forged a strong connection, working in diverse formats including the reedman’s Danish band Blake Tartare. On Control This the instrumentation is almost incidental. What you get is two musicians interacting and having a good time through spontaneous invention (though the inclusion of the goofing around at the end of Charlie Parker’s “Cheryl” wasn’t essential to make that point). Blake’s breathy alto saxophone toys with melodic phrases on the opening “Salutations,” in playful combination with Osgood’s gradually increasing rhythmic mass. Some of the best moments come when the saxophonist’s reiterations mesh with the drummer’s spacious rhythmic architecture, as on the buoyant “Elephants Are Afraid of Mice.” “Cheryl” apart, “Creole Love Call” is the only preconceived piece, featuring a loose chorale of three overdubbed saxophones in a South African kwela feel, framing joyful tenor saxophone and drum freedom.

Cadence Magazine review by Marc Medwin

CF 136
Michael Blake / Kresten osgood – Control this (CF 136)

CF 139
Trinity – Breaking the Molde (CF 139)

Check out these veterans of the diverse Alternative/Hardcore/Free Jazz scenes as they place two very different but equally engaging platters in Clean Feed’s ever-increasing catalog. The duo disc (1) comes courtesy of tenor saxophonist Michael Blake, whose alto work as heard here is new to me. His tenure with the fabled Lounge Lizards afforded him lightning-fast reflexes, and these are on display throughout these improvisations. Kresten Osgood is every bit his equal, stopping over and over on the proverbial dime Danilo Perez by Jimmie Jones seemingly with no path left behind him. The title track distills all that is best about the collaboration. Blake lays down some motivic
pointillisms, spitting forth multiphonic bursts along the way. Osgood picks up immediately on an almost hidden military vibe, rendering it apparent with some quasi-cadences. The veteran partners man-age to hold it all together as they dabble in Funk, new thing and Bebop tropes, often breathing as one musician. At other points on the disc, Osgood’s tuned drumming conjures the beautifully scorching Flaherty/Edwards duos on Cadence Jazz Records as a bassist becomes superfluous. Their sense of history is manifest in an unusual way as they glide through a version of the late 1920’s Ellington classic, “Creole Love Call,” which begins every bit as slinkily as the original before blasting into the stratosphere.

Trinity’s contribution (2) brings volume and raises the density factor considerably. When the quartet is in high gear, as they are from the first moments of this widely diverse disc, they’re in Ayler/Taylor/Trane mode, Moster even invoking Meditations with his shofar blasts. The second track finds the aggregate in entirely different territory, soft shards of electronic sound riddled with percussive puncture wounds and long-breathed multiphonics. All seems to be leading up to the final epic improvisation, enthralling in its sudden shifts in tempo, intensity, and non-conventional timbre. These discs are definitely for lovers of adventurous music, who will be rewarded with each listen.
©Cadence Magazine 2009 www.cadencebuilding.com

All About Jazz Italy review by Angelo Leonardi

CF 136Michael Blake – Kresten Osgood – Control This (CF 136)
Control This è il disco che Michael Blake ha realizzato col batterista Kresten Osgood e di cui annunciava l’uscita nella bella intervista di Luca Vitali, pubblicata in settembre [clicca qui per leggerla].
Il sassofonista canadese è ormai un protagonista della scena di New York: iniziò ven’anni fa con i Lounge Lizards di John Lurie per proseguire col Jazz Composers Collective e altre formazioni accanto a Ben Allison, e con apprezzati lavori in proprio (primo fra tutti Kingdom of Champa, prodotto da Teo Macero).
In questo disco che vede Blake estendere il suo interesse anche al contralto, la simpatetica relazione tra i due strumentisti emerge ai massimi livelli, non solo sul piano strumentale ma sul terreno di un’estetica condivisa, in equilibrio tra improvvisazioni free, libere esplorazioni della forma e vivo rispetto per la tradizione jazzistica.
Un chiaro esempio sono le incisioni di “Creole Love Call” (nel cui tema Blake ha sovrainciso alcune parti di sassofono) e “Cheryl” dove l’identità storica dei brani convive con l’intenso e vorticoso dialogo reciproco. Il primo è caratterizzato da una lunga e veemente improvvisazione che può essere accostata all’enfasi di certe pagine coltraniane (il duo con Rashied Ali, ad esempio) mentre il secondo si snoda entro confini dinamici più controllati, in un’ammirevole interplay che coniuga la qualità melodica di Blake all’alto all’incalzante drumming poliritmico di Osgood.

Di grande interesse i brani originali, ognuno caratterizzato da una precisa fisionomia, nella generale condivisione di un’estetica liberamente improvvisata. Tra i più coinvolgenti ricordiamo il veemente “Elephants Are Afraid of Mice” e il rarefatto tema d’apertura, “Salutations,” un dialogo ricco di sottigliezze in una narrazione pervasa da sottile ritualismo.

Jazz’n’More review by Jürg Solothurnmann

Note: 4

Blake wurde mit den „Lounge Lizzards“ bekannt. Der 45jährige Kanadier in New York ist solide in der Jazztradition verwurzelt und liebt diese offen mit anderen Idiomen zu verbinden. Hier trifft er sich mit dem dänischen Ausnahme-Drummer Osgood, der zwischen Kopenhagen und NYC pendelt und auch mit Sam Riviers, Oliver Lake und Paul Bley gearbeitet hat. Die eng verzahnten Duos sind modal oder panmodal offen gestaltet, doch das Fundament des Blues und der Saxophonistendynastie von Hawkins, Webster und Hodges bis Parker scheint immer durch und erhält eine Parallele mit dem vom Two Beat beeinflussten Trommelspiel. Sechs der sieben Tracks sind Spontankreationen, doch mit vielen Anspielungen auf die Geschichte. Besonders in „Top Hat“ und „Cotton Mouth“ kann Blake neu auch als eloquenter Altsaxophonist entdeckt werden. Mein Favorit: Ellingtons der zehnminütiger „Creole Love Call“ (eine Verneigung vor Rahsaan und Coltrane mit Overdubbing von Tenor, Alto und Soprano), dessen Tenorsolo sich über ganz verschiedene stilistische und emotionale Stadien verwandelt. Tiefe Zwiesprachen meist ohne Längen, die ich mal live erleben möchte.

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

cf-136MICHAEL BLAKE / KRESTEN OSGOOD – Control This (CF 136)
“I am very proud of this album because when I hear the music, I hear how well we know each other”, writes drummer Kresten Osgood in the liners. A beautiful note of friendship to his partner in this duo, saxophonist Michael Blake (here on soprano, alto and tenor), both also members of Blake Tartare and active since many years, respectively, on the Copenhagen and New York scenes, collaborations including names of the calibre of Sam Rivers, Paul Bley and The Lounge Lizards. The extreme enjoyableness of Control This lies in the reciprocal will of constantly paying attention to what the counterpart has to say, finding every time a correct key to unlock the secrets of an ingenuity that’s often the most unadulterated source of expression in an art form that recurrently privileges selfishness over interplay.

In “Top Hat”, for example, Blake interprets a lyrical flow of linear materials ranging from melodically investigative to eloquently rigorous, his phrases breathing through Osgood’s subtly pervading, ever-attentive sinuousness. The latter commands our interest with an expert management of the dynamics, appearing like an extremely conscious percussionist whose lone interest is driving the comrade to reveal the physiology of the instrument while remaining in the realm of a pragmatic equanimity. “Cotton Mouth” begins with the artists treading parallel paths that after a few instants merge into a bundle of tortuous flurries and destroyed-and-reassembled patterns, in which – once more – we welcome a fine balance of rhythmic drive and intertwined precisions.

The record ends in total fun in a ghost track, a comical snapshot of the solid kinship between two musicians who just love playing, especially when they’re together – and not alone.

All About Jazz review by Troy Collins

cf-136Michael Blake / Kresten Osgood – Control This (CF 136)
Interstellar Space (Impulse!, 1965), John Coltrane’s raucous tenor sax duo album with drummer Rashied Ali, is widely considered the pinnacle achievement of such instrumental pairings. Its blistering intensity continues to haunt similar efforts, yet there are a few intrepid souls who have opted for a more subtle, dynamic approach—one which favors conversational interplay over kinetic fury.

New York-based saxophonist Michael Blake and Danish drummer Kresten Osgood are two such explorers. Longstanding collaborators, they served as sidemen to organist Lonnie Smith and toured in Blake’s freewheeling Blake Tartare ensemble. Over the years they have developed a deep-seated rapport, lending the congenial free improvisations featured on Control This (their first recording as a duo) an implied sense of structure often lacking in similar efforts.

A lyrical stylist, Blake alternates between tenor and soprano throughout the session and makes his recorded debut on alto. He bolsters his tuneful theme and variation-based excursions with avant-garde flourishes, amplifying mellifluous refrains with vociferous outbursts. Alternating between serene balladry, thorny angularity and multiphonic experimentation, he delves into each aspect with palpable enthusiasm.

Melodically versatile, Osgood mimics bass lines with contagious kick drum and floor tom beats, and provides harmonic accents with scintillating cymbal work. Modulating gracefully through tempos and meters, he fluctuates between old school swing, gritty funk, lilting calypso and roiling tribal vamps (among other styles) with ease, often alternating modes in the same tune.

The duo’s empathetic interplay borders on the clairvoyant, but nowhere is it clearer than on their gorgeous interpretation of Ellington’s “Creole Love Call.” Control This was recorded live in the studio, yet this piece features an overdubbed horn section on the head melody that enriches the tune’s soulful opulence. Drawing inspiration from the plangent theme, they deconstruct the underlying beauty of the tune in a visceral central improvisation, showcasing their interpretive abilities while demonstrating the timeless viability of standards.

Vibrant, jovial and filled with affable communication, Control This is a sterling example of the endless possibilities of the duo format.

Free Jazz review by Stef

cf-136Michael Blake & Kresten Osgood – Control This (CF 136)
This album has all the qualities that you would expect from a fully improvised sax & drums duo: open dialogues, no constraints, the search for intimacy and relevant expressiveness. Michael Blake is a wonderful musician, who – like fellow saxman David Binney – has too many faces to have a very distinct profile, and yet he is truly good in many styles, as an instrumentalist, but especially as a musician, with a great sense for melody and emotional warmth, which makes most of his albums quite accessible, even in the less common format of a duo session, here with Danish drummer Kresten Osgood. Osgood is the perfect match for Blake, because he has the same versatility and sense of lyricism that makes the interaction interesting and enjoyable throughout. One track, “Creole Love Call” has been dubbed afterwards, and although at first listens I found the contrast with the other tracks a little disturbing, but the piece’s theme is so beautiful and the fully improvised middle section of the track is so good that I now look forward to listening to it. The improvised pieces have this inviting quality, centered around themes, with an uncannily focused approach, whether it’s the nice, almost traditional melody of “Top Hat”, or the exquisitely fun, almost visual interaction on “Elephants Are Afraid Of Mice”, or the almost telepathic tempo changes on “Cotton Mouth”, a rhythmic delight. The long last track ends in some in-the-moment fun between the two musicians, including loud bursts of laughter. Great fun indeed.