Tag Archives: Matt Bauder

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.

Squid’s Ear review by Kurt Gottschalk

Matt Bauder – Day in Pictures  (CF 210)
Matt Bauder is one smart saxophonist. He has reliably brought himself to projects led by Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon and Rob Mazurek, among others, and works regularly with Taylor Ho Bynum, Harris Eisenstadt and Aaron Siegel. And bringing oneself means more than just showing up. Bauder has a warm, round tone on the tenor and even softens the clarinet’s edges. He’s maybe even a little romantic for some of the conceptualists he hangs out with (he’s closer to Bynum in that regard), but he consistently finds a place for himself, neither fitting too much in or too much out.

Bauder has flirted with doo-wop and minimalism in the past, but Day in Pictures is squarely jazz. Not even that mad-free-scream-at-the-sun-and-then-howl-at-the-moon improv stuff. This is jazz jazz. Some Sonny Rollins here, some Oliver Nelson there. Yeah, Bauder’s a smart cookie.

On board for the effort are trumpeter Nate Wooley, pianist Angelica Sanchez and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, representing Bauder’s current NYC stead, and bassist Jason Ajemian from Bauder’s former Chicago grounds. They pull it off with aplomb, intuitively playing the more involved arrangements, ably slinking into the hushed ballads.

In the circles of some of the conceptualists he’s hung out with (or at least among their audiences), there are concerns and questions about pushing the music forward versus repeating the past. There’s nothing particularly forward-looking about Day in Pictures. And that can be a problem — when the music isn’t this good, anyway.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Matt Bauder Quintet – Day in Pictures (CF 210)
Reed-tenor jazzologist Matt Bauder has integrity. He writes well. He plays with the assurance of someone who has internalized the music, grasped its essentials and communed with his instruments to emerge with a kind of brilliance and right-sounding quality. And as a bandleader he can pick the right people too.

A Day In Pictures (Clean Feed 210) gives you plenty of evidence to consider, and plenty of inspired moments to appreciate. He’s gathered together a quintet that gells nicely. Matt’s tenor sets the in-and-out clock to midnight, and the time flies by. He’s lucid, he’s given it all some thought and brims with good ideas, well executed. He does not ape somebody else. He apes himself. His clarinet playing goes someplace too.

Nate Wooley brings the seasoned polish and flexibly masterful playing style that gets him more and more attention on the scene in recent years. He forms a perfect foil in the front line. Bauder and Wooley meld as one in their approach, but remain themselves in the process.

The new voice of Angelica Sanchez on piano gets good exposure on Pictures. She, the complete pianist: beautifully concise in her phrasing on the inside moments; logically lucid in the free-er spots. She has real talent and does much to make this session hum.

The rhythm team of Jason Ajemian on bass and Tomas Fujiwara at the drums brings the ideal balance of swinging drive and daring looseness that beautifully suits them for Bauder’s in-and-out.

Finally, the pieces. They are brilliant as well. There’s a nod to the history of the music, some classic Blue-Note-like referencing that shimmers when placed in a more modern context. And there’s much else about these pieces. They show the hand of a talented jazz composer.

So there you have it. Five excellent players playing first-rate modern jazz. One excellent jazz scrivener showing seven of his best numbers. The combination has real heft, power, excitement.

Very much recommended.

Jazz.pt review by Pedro Lopes

Matt Bauder – Day in Pictures (CF 210)****1/2
Imagine-se a seguinte moldura: cinco jovens nos seus 30, eles segurando cuidadosamente instrumentos e baquetas, ela cautelosamente encostada às teclas. Atrás, uma paisagem imaculada dos subúrbios americanos, casas fotocopiadas, relva milimetricamente aparada e modelos “American brand” estacionados em paralelo ao passeio.
Um primeiro olhar desatento para esta fotografia deixa antever um jazz sóbrio, harmonicamente correcto, com estrutura regular, secção rítmica swingada e solos intercalados. Contudo, a minúcia das segundas impressões revela uma juventude de cabelo desalinhado e a irreverência das “t-shirts” e das “jeans” desgastadas.
Metáforas à parte, “Day In Pictures” é mesmo um disco de jazz certinho, mas subtilmente adulterado pelo líder, Matt Bauder, aluno dos ilustres Anthony Braxton, Ron Kuivila e Alvin Lucier, e um dos três eixos do excelente projecto minimal Memorize The Sky. No registo ouvem-se composições e arranjos cuidados com a beleza intemporal do jazz da década de 1950, corrompidos pela impregnação de subtis movimentações atonais, emparelhamentos e dobras de saxofone / trompete na exposição ligeiramente desafinada dos temas (“Cleopatra’s Mood”) e quebras estruturais tangentes ao free bop (“Parks After Dark”).
Sete temas decorrem, oscilando entre duas ou três velocidades (algures entre a balada e o bop mais liberto), sem necessidade de recorrer constantemente a momentos expansivos, apesar da presença de reconhecidos improvisadores, como é o caso de Nate Wooley, dono de alguns dos melhores momentos a solo do registo (“Bill and Maza”). A presença de Angelica Sanchez é a menos tangível, optando a pianista por um trabalho harmónico de fundo, não se evidenciando das dinâmicas de grupo. A excepção à regra está patente no tema mais longo do registo (o já referido “Bill and Maza”), que se constrói progressivamente em torno do solo do piano.
Na tipificação dos temas de Bauder, a secção rítmica marca passo regular e swingado (“Two Lucks”), com Jason Ajemian, reconhecido pela associação com os projectos de Rob Mazurek (Chicago Underground Trio, Exploding Star Orchestra, Mandarin Movie) e Tomas Fujiwara (colaborador frequente de Taylor Ho Bynum e Matt Mitchel), a contribuir para o cruzamento das fronteiras da modernidade e da tradição, que parece guiar todo o disco.
No ouvido fica uma música extremamente agradável e bela, com um toque de desafio que nos garante estarmos no século XXI.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

Matt Bauder – Day In Pictures (CF 210)
Os que se lamuriam pela deriva do jazz para territórios cada vez mais inóspitos e arredados da “tradição” têm aqui assunto para ruminar. Eis um músico profundamente envolvido na “vanguarda” (escute-se o trio Memorize The Sky, a Exploding Star Orchestra, ou o sexteto de Taylor Ho Bynum) que, neste projecto particular, recorre à “tradição” não como modelo para emulação e revivalismo serôdio mas como ponto de partida para a reinvenção.
Adoptando via oposta ao thrash-bop dos Mostly Other People Do The Killing, que dão nova cara ao jazz clássico através de cirurgia plástica sem anestesia e com luvas de boxe, o quinteto do saxofonista Matt Bauder reformula os cânones mediante subtil e sofisticado trabalho de composição e arranjos. Os temas são todos originais e incluem hard bop enérgico que soa como uns Jazz Messengers etilizados (“Two Lucks”), baladas de melancolia cubista (“Willoughby”) ou melodias elegíacas que são submersas por imparável efervescência (“January Melody”), numa prodigiosa coexistência de tradição e inovação só é possível porque Bauder tem consigo uma equipa imperial: Nate Wooley (trompete), Angelica Sanchez (piano, infelizmente demasiado “submerso” na mistura), Jason Ajemian (contrabaixo) e Tomas Fujiwara (bateria).
Sete lições que poderiam servir para abrir horizontes às legiões de jovens aplicados que insistem em decalcar Kind Of Blue. Imagine-se se no domínio do pop-rock ainda hoje se acreditasse piamente que Please, Please Me era o término e ápice da evolução.

All About Jazz Italy review by Vincenzo Roggero

Adam Lane’s Full Throttle Orchestra – Ashcan Rantings (CF 203)
Valutazione: 4.5 stelle 
Se la sezione delle trombe è formata da tue tipi come Nate Wooley e Taylor Ho Bynum si insinua il ragionevole dubbio che l’orchestra in questione del tutto “normale” proprio non sia. Se poi il contrabbassista, compositore e leader ha il nome di Adam Lane, una presenza costante “coast to coast ” nei progetti più interessanti della musica improvvisata nordamericana, il dubbio diventa certezza.

Si potrebbe dire che se c’è un elemento, un essenza che pervade con i suoi aromi l’intero lavoro questo sia il blues. Ma non pensiate ad un album di blues o sul blues, sareste clamorosamente fuori strada. Si, è vero, più di una volta la classica struttura della musica del diavolo, qualche cadenza riconoscibile che ci rimanda ad uno stato del profondo sud compare, ma il blues lo si ritrova essenzialmente in quel misto di indolenza ed energia, tristezza e gioia che ne costituiscono la cifra stilistica originale.

Gioia che, come ricorda Lane nelle note di copertina, dovrebbe elevare musicisti e ascoltatori ad un livello assoluto di piacere e divertimento. Risultato raggiunto pienamente, perché il disco combina in maniera sublime il piacere dell’ascolto con la qualità della musica, il battere dei piedi con quello del cuore, il pensiero con l’azione, i lampi geniali dei singoli con la compattezza dell’insieme, la peculiarità della scrittura basata su cellule melodiche imprevedibili e lo sviluppo determinato dall’inventiva degli interpreti.

All About Jazz-New York review by Stuart Broomer

Matt Bauder – Day in Pictures (CF 210)
Tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Matt Bauder cuts a fairly broad swath through the more advanced improvisatory forms, from the orchestral free jazz of Exploding Star Orchestra to the meditative minimalism of the trio Memorize the Sky. His quintet Day in Pictures seems to circle some of the conventions of mid ‘60s postbop, his compositions suggesting such period explorers as Andrew Hill and Grachan Moncur III, with many touches that reach further afield, from Duke Ellington to Sun Ra to Pharoah Sanders and Klezmer. Those allegiances are immediately apparent in the makeup of the band, a quintet that matches Bauder’s reeds with trumpeter Nate Wooley (the two also the frontline of Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day), pianist Angelica Sanchez, bassist Jason Ajemian and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. Bauder’s themes are both strongly melodic and (as the name would suggest) highly evocative, most notably the opening “Cleopatra’s Mood”, which moves to a middle-Eastern rhythm that’s both sinuous and forceful and which has its expressive edge consistently pressed by Bauder and Wooley’s multiphonics. That connection with tradition is at itsmost playful on “Reborn Not Gone” and “Two Lucks”, hard-swinging themes that suggest late bop and inspire Bauder to leap from register to register, from plosive to squeak. There’s a somber grace to “January Melody”, with Bauder’s woody clarinet in the foreground, while the extended “Bill and Maza” achieves an almost orchestral depth and density with contrasting thematic materials distributed among the group. There’s a sense here that every player in the quintet is knitting Bauder’s materials into a strong group identity, consistently enhancing his compositions as they achieve a genuinely collective language.

All About Jazz-NewYork review by Clifford Allen

Adam Lane’s Full Throttle Orchestra – Ashcan Rantings (CF 203)
Bassist Adam Lane began his Full Throttle Orchestra while still calling the West Coast home, as an environment that could bring together his interests in jazz and new music with a punkish energy. Though the term “orchestra” in a traditional sense might be a stretch for this outfit, orchestration – or sound organization based upon internal relationships – is not foreign to Lane’s concepts as a bandleader/composer. Ashcan Rantings is the third Full Throttle disc, and second for Clean Feed Records, and is organized around a decidedly East Coast nexus – trumpeters NateWooley and Taylor Ho Bynum, trombonists Reut Regev and Tim Vaughn, reedmen Avram Fefer, MattBauder and David Bindman and drummer Igal Foni on two discs’ worth of original material. While Lane’s work is certainly informed by tensions and differences, he also gives it a swinging shove, quickly evident following the lush, brass and reed opening to “Imaginary Portrait”. Supple bass and drum lines propel a decidedly buoyant series of loose knots, out of which Regev’s peppery brass sinews emerge. This contrast is further espoused by Wooley’s solo, which moves from crackly feeding-back to Lester Bowie-like bravura and back. “Marshall” deftly plots an Eastern European slink, broad ensemble strokes that remain both weighty and airy, in perfect counterpoint to the clambering openness of DavidBindman’s (Brooklyn Sax Quartet, et al.) tenor and the fluttering delicacy of a duet between Regev and Foni (underpinned by bass, but still a duo). The title track begins with a horsehair-grinding arco solo from the leader and moves into the sort of sludgy rock rhythms (cue distortion) that have occasionally popped up on some of Lane’s other compositions. It’s quite effective when the bassist couples electronic fuzz with Bauder’s splattering baritone work (Surman-like on the gorgeous “Bright Star Calypso”) and the noise buriesthe ensemble vocalizations in a curious textural stew, which is not without buoyancy. A group is only as compelling as its parts and Lane has both clear respect for and interest in the players, giving them space to do what they do.

Chicago Reader review by Peter Margasak

Matt Bauder’s “Jazz” Record
Matt Bauder – Day in Pictures (CF 210)
Regular readers of the Reader probably know that I’ve been a huge fan of reedist and composer Matt Bauder since his Chicago days back at the turn of the century. He only lived here for two years—since then he’s gone to grad school at Wesleyan and spent a year at the prestigious ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany, and he now lives in New York—but he made a big impact during that short time, and he’s been a regular visitor ever since.

Bauder is intensely curious, often to the detriment of his career momentum—it’s harder to get noticed if you’re always changing gears or hopping from scene to scene. But that diversity—from the revisionist doo-wop of White Blue Yellow and Clouds to the minimalist soundscapes of Memorize the Sky to the chamber music of Paper Gardens—is one of the most exciting things about his work. In an interview I did with Bauder last year for Down Beat 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.”

Bauder considers jazz his musical core, though, and relates everything else he does to it. Late last year he finally released his first indisputably “jazz” record, the self-titled debut of his quintet Day in Pictures (Clean Feed). On its seven great original tunes, his gorgeous tenor saxophone and his agile, full-bodied clarinet blossom in their full glory, swinging and stomping. This won’t be a surprise if you’re familiar with Bauder, because he plays knockout solos all the time—it’s just that he usually does it in someone else’s band, from Rob Mazurek’s Exploding Star Orchestra to Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day to Taylor Ho Bynum’s old sextet.

“I’m a product of what the jazz tradition has become,” Bauder said in our Down Beat interview. “I do see myself as a jazz musician because I’ve studied it a lot and I started out playing in jam sessions as a teenager. When I go to make a record I think openly because of how much is out there, but I think it’s all influenced by jazz.” There’s no audible connection between Day in Pictures and, say, Memorize the Sky, aside from a commitment to improvisation, but for Bauder they’re related at a foundational conceptual level.

Below you can listen to a track from the new album, “Reborn Not Gone,” and pick out the jazz-nerd references—its rhythms obviously rhyme with the Miles Davis/Gil Evans version of “Gone” from Porgy and Bess, and the tune’s melody nicks ideas from Charles Mingus’s “Reincarnation of a Lovebird.” The whole record is Bauder’s love letter to 50s and 60s jazz, but his band—trumpeter Nate Wooley, pianist Angelica Sanchez, bassist Jason Ajemian, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara—is so strong and idiosyncratic that the music never sounds like a throwback. Bauder also slyly acknowledges his Chicago ties in several song titles: “Parks After Darks” is a wink to guitarist Jeff Parker, “Bill and Maza” is a tribute to Bill Dixon, whom he met and worked with under the leadership of Rob Mazurek (the “Maza” of the title), and “Two Lucks” is a pun on the name of bassist Matt Lux.

Unfortunately, the record arrived in my mailbox in December, as I nailed down my year-end lists, and I didn’t have a chance to consider it. But Day in Pictures is certainly one 2010’s best jazz recordings. Here’s a recent interview and in-studio performance Bauder did for Soundcheck, a program on New York’s WNYC. He leads a trio with Fujiwara and bassist Eivind Opsvik. Below you can watch some great-sounding video footage of the session—as one astute observer has pointed out, Bauder is rocking a mid-70s Bill Evans look.

All About Jazz review by Troy Collins

Matt Bauder – Day In Pictures (CF 210)
Day In Pictures is Matt Bauder’s first traditional jazz recording as the leader of a stellar acoustic quintet. Far from a debut, the young Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist already has a number of eclectic releases to his name, but none delve as far into the nuances of jazz tradition as this refined platter. His previous albums expand on his work as a sideman to adventurous peers like Taylor Ho Bynum, Harris Eisenstadt and Rob Mazurek, including his electro-acoustic debut, Weary Already Of The Way (482 Music, 2003), and the improvised chamber music project, Paper Gardens (Porter, 2010), in addition to a trilogy of albums made with the collective trio Memorize The Sky.

Bauder’s studies with composers Anthony Braxton, Ron Kuivila and Alvin Lucier are readily apparent in his more experimental work; Day In Pictures showcases his fondness for convention. Flush with elegant melodies, lush harmonies and supple swing rhythms, the session demonstrates Bauder’s commitment to the art form’s more modest antecedents, with brief avant-garde interjections providing thematic continuity within the context of his existing discography.

Nate Wooley(widely revered as one of the leading lights of new trumpet technique) joins Bauder on the frontline. Wooley’s coruscating excursions add layers of rich textural depth to Bauder’s sinuous themes—when not plying sonorous refrains, as on the simmering lamentation “January Melody.” Angelica Sanchez’s tough yet tender pianism provides a perfect balance between freedom and form, gracefully interweaving with Jason Ajemian’s pliant bass lines and Tomas Fujiwara’s vibrant trap set ruminations, yielding a nuanced mosaic of tones, tempos and textures that offer subtly adventurous variations on the tradition.

Bauder shares ample solo space with his band mates, proving to be as resourceful an improviser as he is a writer. Whether on tenor or clarinet, Bauder excels at building narrative solos that seamlessly integrate euphonious lyricism and wooly abstraction. His probing tenor solo on the hypnotic opener “Cleopatra’s Mood” is emblematic, effortlessly juxtaposing diaphanous filigrees and whispered motifs with trilled flurries and gruff multiphonics.

A devoted student of jazz history, Bauder subtly invokes Wayne Shorter’s haunting introspection on “Parks After Dark,” drawing similar inspiration from Duke Ellington’s vivacious charts and George Russell’s elaborate arrangements on the punchy swingers “Reborn Not Gone” and “Two Lucks.” The dramatic arc of the album’s episodic centerpiece “Bill and Maza” recalls Mingus, with the opulent closer, “Willoughby,” hinting at the legendary bassist’s nostalgic streak.

Occasionally augmented by understated electronic effects, the date draws a subtle parallel to another sonic innovator, Rahsaan Roland Kirk—an iconic presence whose all-encompassing pre-Post Modernist aesthetic is widely championed in the Brooklyn scene. Although it represents only one aspect of Bauder’s talents, Day In Pictures is a beautiful record, presenting a well-crafted program of modern jazz that expertly balances past traditions with future innovations.