Tag Archives: Matt Bauder

Chicago Reader review by Peter Margasak

Matt Bauder’s ever-evolving sound

CF 289Matt Bauder and Day in Pictures – Nighshades (CF 289)
Reedist Matt Bauder spent just a few years in Chicago, between 1999 and 2001, but he made a strong mark—and the city’s improvised music scene left its imprint on him in return. He’s a no-nonsense musician with an abiding curiosity. He has forged a deliberately mercurial musical personality over the years. There’s nothing mysterious about his ideas or interests, but their nonchalant diversity and range have made it hard to pin him down as this or that. Of course, that’s one of the things that make the reedist, composer, and bandleader so special; not only is he good at many things, but working in disparate contexts is necessary for him. He recently joined the touring lineup of Arcade Fire following a long stint on the road with Iron & Wine; he regularly subbed in the Broadway production of Fela!; he’s worked in bands led by Taylor Ho Bynum, Anthony Braxton, Rob Mazurek, and Harris Eisenstadt; he’s explored abstract electronic music, engaged in long-from improvisation with the trio Memorize the Sky, and even played modern takes on classic doo-wop with his project White Blue Yellow and Clouds. In 2010 I wrote a profile of Bauder for DownBeat magazine, and he told me, “I want a balance, and I wouldn’t be doing all of these different things for this long if I wanted one of them to take over. I feel like I can’t take a narrow path like that. I see other people do it and get a lot of success from it, but it’s not possible for me.”

Still, Bauder retains his roots in jazz, and that sensibility colors everything he does. He recently released Nightshades (Clean Feed), the second album by his excellent quintet Day in Pictures—a jazz quintet through and through featuring trumpeter Nate Wooley, pianist Kris Davis (who replaces Angelica Sanchez, from the group’s debut), bassist Jason Ajemian, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara—and it arrives as one of his most accomplished efforts yet, a superb, elegantly swinging session built upon six sturdy, well-crafted original compositions. The record is dominated by the sort of classic, soulful hard-bop sound forged in the 50s, but within that durable model the individualism of each player comes through. Bauder introduces the handsome ballad “Starr Wykoff” with a lengthy tenor sax solo marked by harmonic ambiguity, dazzling rhythmic variation, breathily sensual tonality, and rich melodic generosity, leading into a tune that would’ve sounded at home in the repertoire of Coleman Hawkins. Both Bauder and Wooley expertly pour modern techniques and ideas into a classic model with astonishingly good, deeply satisfying results.

On the surface the opening piece called “Octavia Minor” flips the script a bit, summoning the spirit of vintage Ethiopian music, but once you get beyond the pentatonic harmonies and patient melody, the internal motion and improvisations are of a piece with the performances that follow. Below you can check out the wonderfully churning piece “August and Counting,” which opens with a thrumming groove and tart contrapuntal blowing from Bauder and Wooley. As the piece unfolds, the hornmen never really drop out, trading phrases, dropping accents on one another’s lines, and improvising in thrilling tandem, with Davis unspooling mahogany blankets of shimmering sound. I feel confident that Nightshades will end up as one of my favorite albums of 2014. That kind of quality and resonance is something that you can rely on Bauder to deliver.

All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

CF 289Matt Bauder And Day In Pictures – Nightshades (CF 289)
Matt Bauder And Day In Pictures: Nightshades Saxophonist Matt Bauder was mentored by celebrated avant-garde jazz saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton and has been a busy and quite productive artist on numerous jazz fronts. As a topnotch session man and leader, Bauder’s resume intimates fruitful affiliations with musicians who are at the forefront of the progressive jazz and avant-garde sectors. Fueled by an all-star lineup, Nightshades is the saxophonist’s second solo effort for Portugal-based Clean Feed Records, and is a program that shifts between mainstream jazz and ultramodern propositions.

Bauder kicks off the agenda with a Horace Silver style bump and grind oeuvre “Octavia Minor,” where pianist Kris Davis complements the leader’s gritty sax lines with cool accents and swirling chord clusters. However, compositional contrasts abound on other works as the band creates more than a few highly expressionistic firestorms, but alternates the avant-garde forays with pieces such as the old school conventional jazz type ballad, “Starr Wykoff.” Here, warm, late-night soloing activities are integrated into a curvy song-form, featuring Bauder’s contemplative lines and drummer Tomas Fujiwara’s delicate brushes.

“Rule of Thumbs” is a topsy-turvy excursion, marked by free-flowing dialogues as the soloists embark on a search and conquer mission while piloting through a surfeit of nooks and crannies as Davis equalizes the pace via linear runs and off-kilter phrasings. Moreover, the band alternates the current with succinct choruses, but venture into a heightened red-zone attack amid trumpeter Nate Wooley’s breathy intonation, scratchy notes and microtonal articulations. Otherwise “August and Counting,” begins with a knock- down, drag-out groove, tempered by Bauder’s tender interludes. And “Nightshades” closes out the album with a genial, New Orleans second- line boogaloo vamp.

Bauder’s strategic output combines ferocious improvisational activities that rattle the senses with other compositions and movements that could soothe the savage beast. It’s a hybrid gameplan that yields gratifying results.

Free Jazz review by Filip ‘Booka’ Bukrshliev

CF 289Matt Bauder – Nightshades (CF 289)
There are a lot of interesting connections and similarities between Matt Bauder and Nate Wooley, besides the fact that they know each other very well and that they play together on multiple records, including the one I review here. Both of them had huge success with the debut recordings for Clean Feed in 2011. Both of them presented albums where they lead a couple of musicians to fearlessly dive into the rich tradition of the jazz idiom. Nate’s quintet records recalled the sound of Eric Dolphy’s monumental Out to Lunch, Matt Bauder Day In Pictures managed to capture the essence of the famous “3 o’clock in the morning, downtown NY” Rudy Van Gelder sound. And then, both of them had somewhat of a strange sophomore release that followed.

Nate Wooley’s Sit in The Throne Of Friendship offered us an augmented lineup, a more expanded take on the debut record, somewhat more calm, almost pastoral “dust & dirt” sound, with a lot of wind in the tree tops. At first it was a strange record for me, not at all what I expected, but on repeated listens I started to perceive the layers, the depth, the meaning of the themes, the magic of the solos, the timbre, the pulse, the silence. Now for me it’s a regular, almost daily affair to listen to that album.

It’s almost the same experience with the new Matt Bauder record – Nightshades. The line-up change is here, the sound and structure that caught me off-guard are here, the whole new aura that surrounds the music – here. Instead of Angelica Sanchez on piano – here we have the tireless genius of Kris Davis. Angelica brought the rich piano sound and an interesting ear for counterpoint and the wit to find harmonies in the strangest places that expand the palette of sound. Kris Davis is more about movement – almost percussive, majestically restrained and controlled chromatic chaos, that sparkles totally unexpected and unusual lines trough the record. For me she is the main reason why this is an entirely differed record from the first one – Kris Davis just can make that much of a change in the structure and the dynamic. Nate Wooley is also one of the reasons why this record is different than the previous one. He is like… unrecognizable. The bright golden tone, the restraint, the discipline. Not that someone should want and expect discipline from Mr. Wooley’s trumpet, but its interesting to see all of his incarnations, all his of his coats and colors, to see how he can change, how he can answer a certain call.

And now, for the leader of this quintet.

There are too many musicians that are capable of capturing a certain era, structure or sound – and consider it like it’s their own, so that they can chew on in till they turn themselves and the familiar quality into a shameless self-parody. Matt Bauder is not one of them. Matt Bauder is romantic about a certain era, but he never acts like he invented it. Matt Bauder is just happy to have the honor to play with the familiar sound and its endless possibilities, to challenge himself, to hold hands with it, to look it in the eyes, to make love with it, to let it go. It’s always a blast to discover how the story rolls on with his deep narrative solos, to let the inventive themes to take complete control of your feet. I can not recall a reference of such velvety tenor sound like the one of Matt Bauder… and man, that signature shivering sound… what can someone possibly say about that?!

It was nice to experience all the stages with this record, the disbelief, the boredom… and then the revelation. Why we tend to put things in boxes with labels and expect certain things? No one knows. Doubt that anyone in this quintet knows for sure. But “Matt Bauder and co.” know how to let go and not to chew on things over and over. Simply just let your self go on this magnificent record.

Highly recommended!

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

Matt Bauder – Day in Pictures (CF 210)
The generally stormless climate – tinted with past remembrances – typifying Day In Pictures contrasts quite a bit with the remarkable bundle of influences credited to Matt Bauder, whose musicianship is apparently rooted in his love for punk and soul yet was refined by studies with the likes of Anthony Braxton, Alvin Lucier and Ron Kuivila. But as soon as the tranquilizing themes of pieces such as the inaugural “Cleopatra’s Mood” – or the alluring “Bill And Maza”, scented by the essence of countless jazz classics of the 60s – take possession of your afternoon, one is promptly transported back to eras where the mere act of listening to a long playing while sitting on the couch was considered the purest form of delight. Tunes whose lyrical constitution can be even retained by the memory, to a degree: this is valid, for example, in “Parks After Dark”. But wait until the matter gets transformed, as the quintet starts bruising the noblesse via a broad-minded decomposition of the counterpoint, five autonomous voices heard in semi-fighting stance with the same clearness that was defining the collective texture to that moment, masterfully restored at the end. The proportion between logical order and investigation of self-direction is the record’s most convincing feature; within these spheres, Angelica Sanchez’s riveting chordal choices underscore the compelling interconnections of the leader’s tenor with Wooley’s now brooding, now impertinent trumpet, whereas Ajemian and Fujiwara never look set to incarcerate the pulse into mathematical exactitude in spite of the intelligible symmetry of the rhythmic bulk. Class being class, extreme recklessness is not indispensable to enjoy this ever-polite outing: you just need a full hour to be spent alone, minus extraneous disturbances.

Chicago Reader Best of 2011 list by Peter Margasak

Top ten albums:

– Atomic, Here Comes Everybody (Jazzland)
– Roscoe Mitchell, Before There Was Sound (Nessa)
– Roberts, Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres (Constellation)
– Amir ElSaffar Two Rivers Ensemble, Inana (Pi)
– Craig Taborn, Avenging Angel (ECM)
– São Paulo Underground, Três Cabeças Loucuras (Cuneiform)
– J.D. Allen Trio, Victory (Sunnyside)
– Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet, System of 5 (Hatology)
– Matt Bauder, A Day in Pictures (Clean Feed)
– Rudresh Mahanthappa, Samdhi (ACT)

Bill Meyer’s Best of 2011 List on Magnet

1. MATT BAUDER Day In Pictures (Clean Feed)
2. REMPIS PERCUSSION QUARTET Montreal Parade (482 Music)
3. MATTHEW SHIPP Art Of The Improviser (Thirsty Ear)
4. ACID BIRDS Acid Birds III (Blackest Rainbow)
5. KEN VANDERMARK Strade d’Acqua/Roads Of Water (Multikulti)
6. KEITH ROWE Concentration Of The Stare (Bottrop Boy)
9. DAVID S. WARE Organica (Aum Fidelity)
10. BILL DIXON Envoi (Victo)

Time Out Chicago Best of 2011 list by Areif Sless-Kitain

My aim with this year’s roundup was to assemble a list without regard to geography, so I’m either terribly biased or it was just a happy coincidence that Chicago players (past and present) appear on at least half of these albums. Then again, given the collaborative nature of the jazz world, there’s really only a degree or two of separation at most between any of these improvisers. Many (Dawkins, King, Malaby, Mazurek, Taborn) have performed here within the past year, and it’s safe to say the rest have passed through town in the year or so before that. Except Ambrose Akinmusire. Perhaps we can persuade Joe Segal, Michael Orlove or the Umbrella fellas to bring that guy out here in 2012.

1. Amir El Saffar Inana (Pi Recordings)
Chicago native El Saffar folds meditative improvisations into Middle Eastern modes, wedding Western music and Iraqi maqam in a cross-cultural exchange that’s hypnotic and utterly unique.

2. Ambrose Akinmusire When the Heart Emerges Glistening (Blue Note) The title suggests romance, but the breakout trumpeter aims instead for the stars on his Blue Note debut with heat-seaking chromatic flights.

3. Matana Roberts COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres Constellation) Former Velvet Lounge regular Roberts captures her concept-rooted narrative in a concert that’s more performance art than postbop, a powerful and provocative monument both to her ancestry and the jazz tradition.

4. Craig Taborn Avenging Angel (ECM)
The pianist turns in a delicate solo date for ECM that has him searching for answers under each of the 88 keys.

5. Peter Evans Quintet Ghosts (More Is More Records)
A joyous bop skewering that lives up to its name, filtered through an electronic prism. Sam Pluta’s real-time refractions haunt an album that would otherwise be surprisingly straight-ahead.

6. Matt Bauder Day in Pictures (Clean Feed)
Elegant originals from a former Chicagoan, whose dynamic quintet features some of NYC’s most daring players including pianist Angelica Sanchez and erstwhile rodan/Heaven Gallery fixture Jason Ajemian on bass.

7. Ernest Dawkins’ New Horizons Ensemble The Prairie Prophet (Delmark) A fond farewell to Fred Anderson that swings as fiercely and fearlessly as you’d expect of any group operating under the AACM credo.

8. Tony Malaby Novela (Clean Feed)
Rising pianist Kris Davis handles the ominous arrangements for this ambitious nonet, rooting through Malaby’s back catalogue and re-imagining it for multiple reeds and brass.

9. São Paulo Underground Tres Cabeças Loucuras (Cuneiform)
Rob Mazurek returns to Brazil and floats his cool blue cornet over a spellbinding collage of saturated textures, syncopated rhythms and sundry electronics.

10. Dave King Trucking Company Good Old Light (Sunnyside)
The name suggests weigh stations rather than woodshedding, but the Bad Plus drummer’s latest vehicle is a lot more nuanced than you might expect, thanks in part to an impressive twin sax front line.