Tag Archives: Matthew White

Publico Best of 2010 List by Rodrigo Amado and Nuno Catarino

Melhores Ano Público – 2010 – Escolhas de Rodrigo Amado e Nuno Catarino

1 Sara Serpa / Ran Blake “Camera Obscura” (Inner Circle)
Longe da previsibilidade e artifício da maioria das cantoras jazz actuais, Sara Serpa dá um enorme salto artístico e afirma-se como uma das mais interessantes cantoras da actualidade. Em duo com Ran Blake, um enorme pianista que é um dos segredos mais bem guardados do jazz, assina um registo poderoso, mágico e vibrante, que evoca os grandes criadores do jazz vocal. Disco revelação do jazz nacional 2010. RA

2 Vandermark 5 “The Horse Jumps and The Shipp is Gone” (Not Two) Gravado ao vivo no clube Green Mill de Chicago, este novo registo do saxofonista Ken Vandermark é uma bomba! O saxofonista pega na sua mais celebrada formação, os Vandermark 5, e junta-lhes dois convidados de excepção; o trompetista Magnus Broo e o pianista Havard Wiik. Um equilíbrio notável entre forma e improvisação e uma atitude “take-no-prisoners” dá origem a uma música orgânica, visceral e urgente. Registo internacional do ano. RA

3 Fight the Big Bull – All is Gladness in the Kingdom (Clean Feed)
O decateto americano conta aqui com a participação do trompetista Steven Bernstein e elabora um dos mais originais discos dos últimos anos. Assente numa forte vertente composicional, a música do grupo abre alas à inspiração dos instrumentistas, sempre direccionados por um permanente sentido colectivo. Com o auxílio de Bernstein o colectivo dá mais um grande passo em frente. NC

4 Mike Pride’s From Bacteria to Boys “Betweenwhile” (Aum Fidelity) Mike Pride é, há muito, um subversivo agitador do jazz nova-iorquino. Em “Betweenwhile” reúne um quarteto explosivo que opera entre o passado e o futuro do jazz, como se de um jogo se tratasse. A seu lado, Peter Bitenc, Alexis Marcelo e o saxofonista Darius Jones, uma das grandes revelações dos últimos anos. Fogo, elegância e contenção, num registo descrito com jazz de vanguarda soul. RA

5 Red Trio – Red Trio (Clean Feed)
Revelaram-se em disco, mas não só. Para o Red Trio – Rodrigo Pinheiro (piano), Hernâni Faustino (contrabaixo) e Gabriel Ferrandini (bateria) – este 2010 foi um ano imparável: aclamação internacional, concertos em grandes salas (nacionais e internacionais) e colaborações com convidados de peso (como John Butcher ou Nate Wooley). Improvisando na constante busca de formas sonoras imprevisíveis, o trio encarnado desenvolve uma música única. Que o futuro seja deles. NC

6 Little Women “Throat” (Aum Fidelity)
Jazz com espírito punk, free com disciplina prog. Os Little Women – quarteto de Darius Jones, Travis Laplante, Andrew Smiley e Jason Nazary – apresentam um dos mais inclassificáveis discos que o ano viu nascer, um disco que vira o jazz de pernas para o ar, que mostra uma música barulhenta e irresistível, que explora os limites, que se materializa em múltiplas explosões de energia. NC

7 The Bad Plus – Never Stop (E1)
O irreverente trio de Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson e David King confirma finalmente aquilo que já muitos desconfiavam: estes moços não são apenas capazes de boas (e divertidas) versões de temas rock/pop, são também capazes de fazer uma música intensíssima, enérgica e original, que não deve nada a ninguém. Este é o primeiro disco que não inclui temas alheios e ao que parece estes já não fazem falta nenhuma. NC

8 Rudresh Mahanthappa and Steve Lehman “Dual Identity” (Clean Feed) Dois saxofonistas, virtuosos e inovadores, tentam desvendar os códigos do futuro do jazz. Com uma abordagem altamente pessoal e acompanhados por três grandes músicos – Liberty Ellman, Matt Brewer e Damion Reid – destilam um jazz intenso, angular e complexo, e constroem uma entidade musical abstracta que se apresenta como o paradigma do jazz moderno. RA

9 Parker/Guy/Lytton + Peter Evans – Scenes in the House of Music (Clean Feed) Constituindo um dos mais celebrados trios do jazz improvisado europeu, Evan Parker, Barry Guy e Paul Lytton são três gigantes que garantiram há muito um lugar de destaque na história do jazz moderno. Neste disco, registo de um concerto memorável na Casa da Música, convidam o extraordinário trompetista Peter Evans e formam um quadrado perfeito, impressionista e caleidoscópico. Aquilo que mais se aproxima de uma pura magia sonora. RA

10 Henry Threadgill Zooid “This Brings Us To Vol.2” (Pi)
A aventura criativa de Threadgill continua. Com Zooid, o seu notável projecto para o novo século, realiza explorações de timbre, estrutura e instrumentação. No seu universo, o de um verdadeiro músico dos músicos, nada é o que parece. Em múltiplos planos de percepção, cruzam-se jazz de vanguarda, blues, música contemporânea, jazz latino e muita improvisação, estruturada e consistente como poucas. RA

11 Paul Motian Trio “Lost in a Dream” (ECM)
Mais do que a enorme vitalidade de Motian, mestre absoluto do drumming mundial, a grande surpresa de “Lost in a Dream” vem de Jason Moran – mais contido, com um toque europeu que lhe assenta como uma luva – e acima de tudo, de Chris Potter, que aqui utiliza uma subtileza e suavidade tímbrica que raramente lhe é ouvida. Um trio clássico num registo poético e lírico. RA

12 LUME – Lisbon Underground Music Ensemble (JACC)
A “big band” dirigida por Marco Barroso chega finalmente ao disco e confirma aquilo que muitos já conheciam das actuações ao vivo da banda: jazz multi-referencial, temas que atravessam décadas da história em poucos minutos, de Ellington a Sun Ra à velocidade da luz. Um brilhante projecto nacional que não pára de surpreender e merecerá todo o reconhecimento (aqui e lá fora). NC

13 Vijay Iyer – Solo (Act)
O pianista aventura-se a solo e o resultado já não surpreende ninguém. Trabalhando uma selecção de standards como “Darn That Dream” e clássicos de Monk (“Epistrophy”) e Ellington (“Fleurette Africaine”), Vijay passa também por “Human Nature” (belíssimo tema de Michael Jackson). Em qualquer desses ambientes, o pianista nunca abandona o seu típico registo, sóbrio e metódico, inteligente no desenvolvimento dos temas, criativo e elegante. NC

14 Steve Swell Slammin’ The Infinite “5000 Poems” (Not Two)
Nome incontornável do jazz de vanguarda norte-americano e um dos maiores trombonistas da actualidade, Steve Swell já não gravava um disco assim há muito tempo. Em “5000 Poems”, com um quinteto bem calibrado, surpreende tudo e todos com um registo vibrante, pleno de inspiração e poder, na linha dos grandes clássicos free dos anos 60 e 70. Composições brilhantes e discursos solistas de cortar a respiração. RA

15 Mário Laginha Trio “Mongrel” (ONC)
Cada vez mais focado no seu próprio universo, Mário Laginha continua a seguir a sua estrela aventurando-se em projectos de alto risco. Em “Mongrel” aborda a obra de um dos seus compositores favoritos, Frédéric Chopin, e recusando soluções fáceis, opera uma transformação profunda das suas composições, alterando compassos, tempos, melodias e harmonias. Raramente uma fusão ou “mestiçagem” de estilos musicais deu origem a uma música tão pura e orgânica. RA

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Martin Longley’s (BBC Music, Jazzwise) Best of 2010 List

New Releases
1. Scott Robinson-Marshall Allen-Pat O’Leary-Kevin Norton: Live at Space Farms (ScienSonic)
2. Ross Bolleter: Night Kitchen (2002-2009) (Emanem)
3. Lisa Mezzacappa: What Is Known (Clean Feed)
4. Shining: Black Jazz (The End)
5. Fight the Big Bull: All Is Gladness in the Kingdom (Clean Feed)
6. Marc Edwards & Weasel Walter: Blood of the Earth (UgExplode)
7. Mingus Big Band: Live at Jazz Standard (Jazz Workshop/Jazz Standard)
8. Billy Bang: Prayer for Peace (TUM)
9. Ideal Bread: Transmit: Music of Steve Lacy (Cuneiform)
10. Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green: Apex (Pi)

Debut
Lisa Mezzacappa: What Is Known (Clean Feed)

Martin Johnson’s (Wall Street Journal, theroot.com) Best of 2010 List

1. Mike Reed: Stories and Negotiations (482 Music)
2. Chris Lightcap: Bigmouth Deluxe (Clean Feed)
3. Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green: Apex (Pi)
4. Lucian Ban & John Hébert: Enescu Re-Imagined (Sunnyside)
5. Scott Amendola: Lift (Sazi)
6. John Escreet: Don’t Fight the Inevitable (Mythology)
7. Fight the Big Bull: All Is Gladness in the Kingdom (Clean Feed)
8. Mary Halvorson: Saturn Sings (Firehouse 12)
9. Howard Wiley: 12 Gates to the City (HNIC Music)

Time Out Lisboa Best of 2010 List

JAZZ

Fight The Big Bull – All is Gladness in the Kingdom (Clean Feed)
Num tempo em que muito jazz cultiva a abstracção glacial ou o neo-classicismo sorumbático, é revigorante ouvir uma mini big band que, sendo resolutamente moderna, recupera a alegria, exuberância e visceralidade dos primórdios do jazz, com riffs contagiantes, ritmos avassaladores e solos apoplécticos.

Rudresh Mahanthappa & Steve Lehman – Dual Identity (Clean Feed)
Sobre os ritmos intrincados, alguns deles inspirados em drum’n’bass, os saxofones alto de Mahanthappa e Lehman perseguem-se como dois besouros furiosos, rodando em torno um do outro, num circo aéreo que faz a Red Bull Air Race parecer um vôo charter carregado de turistas reformados.

Michael Formanek – The Rub And Spare Change (ECM)
O contrabaixista regressa como líder num disco que faz lamentar a sua ausência da ribalta. O relacionamento entre os músicos é telepático e o quarteto (de luxo: Tim Berne, Craig Taborn, Gerald Cleaver) dança, imponderável, sobre a linha que separa composição (a cargo de Formanek) e improvisação.

Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth – DeLuxe (Clean Feed)
Com a Clean Feed a todo o gás e a distribuição de jazz em Portugal a carburar mal, não é de estranhar que a editora lisboeta coloque três discos entre os melhores do ano. O elenco estelar do quinteto/sexteto Bigmouth e o título do CD sugerem despesismo e ostentação, mas não há aqui nada de supérfluo.

Bernardo Sassetti Trio – Motion (Clean Feed)Bernardo Sassetti é um nome transversal como há poucos no jazz português. Não só por a sua música ser ouvida para lá dos guetos a que muito jazz está confinado, mas também por o próprio Sassetti não ficar preso a um género, partindo do jazz para outras latitudes, como atesta a magnífica versão dos Sparklehorse.

Monsieur Délire review by François Couture

Fight the Big Bull – All is Gladness in the Kingdom (CF 169)
Ô que je suis emballé par ce disque! Fight the Big Bull est un ensemble – on pourrait le qualifier de big band – de Richmond en Virginie. Pour cet album, son leader, le guitariste Matt White, a invité le trompettiste Steven Bernstein à y faire une sorte de résidence d’artiste. Résultat: un disque où White et Bernstein se partagent la composition. Fight the Big Bull adopte un style hybride qui emprunte à la tradition de Duke Ellington et au big band actuel (je pense en particulier aux ensembles de Fred Ho). Les pièces sont vives, riches, éclatantes, parfois dansantes, fortes en humour et en émotions fortes. “Mothra” de Bernstein ressort du lot, mais il y a beaucoup d’excellents morceaux ici, sur un disque qui fait dépasse les 75 minutes. Un disque confiant qui respire la bonne humeur, la camaraderie et l’audace assumée.

Oh am I thrilled by this CD! Fight the Big Bull is an ensemble – you could call it a big band – from Richmond, Virginia. For this album, its leader, guitarist Matt White, called in trumpeter Steven Bernstein as a sort of composer-in-residence guest. The result is a record where White and Bernstein share composition credits. Fight the Big Bull goes for a hybrid sound that owes as much to Ellington’s big band tradition than to avant-garde big bands (like Fred Ho’s ensembles, in particular). The pieces are lively, rich, bursting with arrangements, dancing at times, humorous, and full of rollercoaster-like thrills. Bernstein’s “Mothra” is a highlight, but there’s plenty more excellent stuff on this 75+minute record. A confident album full of good humour, camaraderie, and strong-footed boldness.
http://blog.monsieurdelire.com/

Stash Dauber review by SD

A Whole Bunch of New Stuff from Clean Feed
A fat envelope arrived last week from Clean Feed Records, the Lisbon-based label specializing in creative improvised music whose name has become as reliable a guarantor of quality for this jaded listener as Smog Veil and Aztec Music are, in different ways. Here’s what they sent.

Scott Fields Ensemble – Fugu (CF 171)
Guitarist Scott Fields is a Chicagoan by way of Madison, Wisconsin, who now resides in Cologne, Germany. He had a “countercultural” adolescence and started out playing blues in bars while still underage before falling under the spell of the Windy City’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. (“A Poem for Joseph,” which opens his album Fugu, is dedicated to Art Ensemble of Chicago saxophonist Joseph Jarman, with whom Fields has performed.) He put down his guitar when he was 21 and picked it up again 15 years later, earning a journalism degree in the meantime, although you wouldn’t know it from his infuriatingly convoluted liner notes. Fugu is a reissue of a 1995 date first released on his own short-lived Geode label. The pieces were written to accompany dancers but their tricky, irregular meters proved unsuitable for that purpose. The music’s subtly stunning on its own terms, though, performed by an unit of mainly classical players whose fiery interpretations of Fields’ compositions belie their academic backgrounds. Cellist Matt Turner and vibist Robert Stright particularly shine.

Fight the Big Bull – All is Gladness in the Kingdon (CF 169)
A cursory glance at the band shot on Fight the Big Bull’s All Is Gladness in the Kingdom caused me to wonder, “WTF is this, ‘freak folk’ shite?” I needn’t have worried. Far from it, they’re a robust and forward-thinking ensemble from Richmond, Virginia, of all places, helmed by guitarist-composer Matt White. They sound like the Gil Evans Orchestra with a screw loose, or one of those freewheeling Euro outfits like Willem Breuker’s Kollektief. Like the ’70s Evans outfit, they aren’t above incorporating rawk influences (including the foulest sounding fuzztone I’ve heard in several years) to their tumult of squalling saxes and growling trombone. Elsewhere, their woodwinds sing as smoothly and sweetly as the ones from Ellington’s Blanton-Webster band. The secret ingredient on All is Gladness… is trumpeter-composer Steven Bernstein (Sex Mob, Millennial Territory Orchestra), who traveled to Richmond from Da Apple for ten days of rehearsal, performance, workshops, and recording. On “Mothra,” they sound like a futuristic sci-fi soundtrack gone haywire. And I just can’t resist their wild ‘n’ wooly cover of “Jemima Surrender” from the Band’s self-titled sophomore LP, an album they apparently dig real much. Which, come to think of it, _was_ pretty freaky (if only for its out-of-timeness) and folky (if you accept the premise that Ray Charles and Bobby Bland could be considered “folk music”).

Jorrit Djikstra – Pillow Circles (CF 166)
Speaking of large ensembles and Europeans, on Pillow Circles, commissioned for the 2009 North Sea Jazz Festival, Dutch saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra (based in the U.S. since 2002) leads an all-star octet that includes saxman Tony Malaby, trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Jason Roebke, and drummer Frank Rosaly. Imagine if you will an ebulliently percolating jazz that’s expansive enough to accommodate rustic touches like guitarist Paul Pallesen’s banjo, moments of spacious experimentalism and even a soupcon of indie depresso-rock (dig the segment dedicated to Fred Frith). This is visceral music with intellect and a fair amount of humor. What’s not to like? (And by the way, how’s your Dutch?)

RED Trio – RED Trio (CF 168 )
RED trio is neither (as far as I can tell) a group of doctrinaire Communists or a King Crimson tribute band. Rather, it’s a collaboration between three adventurous improvisers — pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro, bassist Hernani Faustino, and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini — all of whom have worked with saxophonist Nobuyasu Furuya; the bassist and drummer appeared on Furuya’s Bendowa album for Clean Feed last year. They claim the heritage of the Bill Evans-Paul Bley trio, not so much for the sounds and moods they create as for their instruments’ roles as equals rather than foreground-and-background. This is daring, edge-of-seat stuff.

Kirk Knuffke Trio – Amnesia Brown (CF 167)
On Amnesia Brown, trumpeter Kirk Knuffke leads a trio that features two of his bandmates from Butch Morris’ Nublu Orchestra, drummer Kenny Wollesen and multi-instrumentalist Doug Wieselman (Lounge Lizards, Flying Karamazov Brothers). Knuffke’s a searchingly lyrical trumpeter, while Wieselman switches off between a mellifluous clarinet and a guitar that spans styles from surf to skronk. Wolleson’s a thinking, listening percussionist. The music they make together is alternately contemplative, exploratory, and abrasive, but always incandescent. The 16 tracks that comprise Amnesia Brown are short but flow together seamlessly.

Sei Miguel – Esfingico (Suite for a Jazz Combo) (CF 170)
Sei Miguel plays pocket trumpet a la Don Cherry and, on Esfingico: Suite for a Jazz Combo, leads a group that includes alto trombone, bass guitar, electronics, and small percussion. While the group’s episodic interplay is interesting, the connections they strike never seem to generate much heat or light. This is the kind of thing that’s best experienced live, when you can observe the physical dynamic between the players.

The thickness of the Clean Feed catalog that accompanied these releases provided heartening evidence that there’s a thriving audience for this kind of music — in Europe, at least, if not here.
http://stashdauber.blogspot.com/2010/02/whole-bunch-of-new-stuff-from-clean.html

Temporary Fault review by Massimo Ricci

Clean Feed 1
A few words about ten less recent chapters from the ongoing (hopefully for long) saga of Pedro Costa’s label. Other titles will be gathered in a future instalment.

Clean Feed Cherry Picking

FIGHT THE BIG BULL – Dying Will Be Easy (CF 108 )
Under this name acts a reasonably bloodthirsty nonet led by guitarist Matt White, the composer of all the tunes. The instrumentation comprise two trombones (Reggie Pace, Bryan Hooten), clarinet (Adrian Sandi), tenor sax (J.C. Kuhl), trumpet (Bob Miller), percussion (Brian Jones), trap kit (Pinson Chanselle) and bass (Cameron Ralston). Given that the CD lasts slightly in excess of 31 minutes, the level of charged dynamics and overall energies that it transmits is noteworthy. Clearly stated themes get rapidly embittered in distorted fury, vapours of past influences gathered and shaken up into original recipes for a fresh kind of alternative dancing. Orchestrations that hint to big band enthusiasms and New Orleans-tinged business leave room for the instrumentalists to releases copious doses of vociferous rage, yet there’s also space for looking at atmospheres that are more reminiscent of a strip club than a jazz club. The mechanisms of lucidity don’t seem to be always in full control, but the somewhat disorderly conduct held by the ensemble is a plus, liberating the music from the sub-structural obviousness that this brand of projects frequently implies. The nervous sort of gaiety that characterizes substantial chunks of the compositions is exactly what defines their distinctiveness. Play loud and get slapped hard.

PAULO CURADO E O LUGAR DA DESORDEM – The Bird, The Breeze And Mr. Filiano (CF 113)
As the record’s name implies, the presence of double bassist Ken Filiano amidst leader Paulo Curado (alto sax, flute) and Bruno Pedroso (drums) is rather exemplary, classiness and sobriety always at the forefront either as accompanist or soloist, an extreme musicality symbolizing the cornerstone of his style, which is a pleasure to listen at any time. The Portuguese comrades are definitely not lesser musicians, though: this is a typical specimen of trio that might have risked to sound as a mellifluous disaster on CD and instead comes out of the speakers as a splendid kinship, the music walking at brisk paces without stumbling for a moment. Curado is a neat executor on both instruments, playing lines that result perfectly intelligible wherever he decides to go, perennial precision and clever sleights of hand never informed by excessive meticulousness. Pedroso’s wrists allow him excursions in several regions of drumming, including those which border with total freedom, yet he manages to emerge as the driving propitiator of impartially functional rhythmic designs at all times. Played with earnestness and elegance at once, these pieces appear like unprejudiced attempts to avoid that kind of pre-digested organization which gives jazz a glossy patina of unresponsive pointlessness.

JORGE LIMA BARRETO – Zul Zelub (CF 111)
The theory of “unrealized energy”, of which we find a meticulous description on the album’s sleeve notes, is at the basis of these 75 minutes of improvisations by pianist Jorge Lima Barreto. The length of the CD is, in truth, one of its limits but this notwithstanding some of the ideas that the sole protagonist performs are fascinating enough to release an overall sufficiently positive judgement. In “Zul”, which alternates not always lucid free forms to comparatively peaceful dissertations, the instrument is constantly intertwined with the emanations of a shortwave radio; this continuous presence defines the piece both positively and negatively, alternating moments of experimental intrigue to sections where there seems to be a little bit of confusion. The second half “Zelub” is much better, especially as Barreto’s more effective, less redundant playing is accompanied by four parallel recordings of natural and environmental sounds, including beautiful birds and other similarly engrossing presences. At times, for inexplicable reasons, I was reminded of Joachim Kühn in certain electro-acoustic partnerships on CMP. Still, despite a degree of heaviness mainly in the first part of the record, this is undoubtedly sincere music to appraise without acting as overly critical detractors.

TETTERAPADEQU – And The Missing R (CF 120)
A group formed by two Italians (tenor saxophonist Daniele Martini and pianist Giovanni Di Domenico) and a Portuguese rhythm section consisting of Gonçalo Almeida on double bass and João Lobo on drums, the name being an anagram – minus an “r”, hence the title – of a club named De Patter Quartet in The Hague, Holland, where the four conservatory students used to play together after the lessons. Where technical preparation of the musicians and instantaneous (and often ironic) creativity meet depends on the different circumstances that the music presents. Barely sketched ideas, adventurous sensitivity, a few grimaces and fully fledged compositions, the whole under a stylistic banner whose colours are mainly taken from jazz, but also from other kinds of immediate intuition, several moments characterized by intense silences and melancholic touches for good measure. Now tangentially intelligent, now more respectful of traditions, this record shows the artists’ will to do their best to maintain an optimistically untarnished approach to interplay; they sound dedicated, detached and having fun at once. The result is an extremely satisfying album, its moods and inclinations not in need to overwhelm the listener. Remarkable and, at the end of the day, successful in not giving us the chance of an accurate classification.

THE FLATLANDS COLLECTIVE – Maatjes (CF 127)
A Dutch word that means “mates” also defines a typical local delicacy, of which the musicians who play in the CD grew fond during a stay in Amsterdam. The exchange of musical experiences – Chicago versus The Netherlands – is at the basis of this album featuring virtual leader Jorrit Dijkstra (alto sax, lyricon, analog synth), James Falzone (clarinet), Jeb Bishop (trombone), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello, analog electronics), Jason Roebke (bass) and Frank Rosaly (drums, percussion). The compositions, mostly credited to Boston-resident Dijkstra, are visibly distinguished by a rather synchronized approach, the artists following a basic compositional scheme comprising a number of places for individual expression but always in the name of an orchestral result that often sounds regimented, only at times slightly more audacious. In general, the players do not seem to be looking too hard for alternative routes: once a suggestion is delineated, they develop a few instant propositions without putting excessive quantities of juvenile delinquency in there, wearing an “everything-under-control” mask whatever the proposition may be (among the declared influences, minimalist mavericks Terry Riley and LaMonte Young; still, curb your enthusiasm if you think to find anything even remotely similar to that music). This somewhat scarcely flexible application of colours and codes limits the sparkle factor of the pieces, which remain flawlessly elegant examples of semi-improvised concepts partially subjugated to a collective format, the whole impeccably executed yet unquestionably cold to these ears.

RIDD QUARTET – Fiction Avalanche (CF 121)
Reuben Radding (double bass), Jon Irabagon (sax), Kris Davis (piano), Jeff Davis (drums), RIDD combine different types of situations and moods, ranging from the sober elegance of rarefied tunes where the piano dictates the behavioural rules of a jazz that follows – at least in part – the tradition without sounding démodé (the preferred facet of the group by this writer) to more oblique exemplifications of dissonant freedom, often interesting, at times a little tortuous, in general destined not to remain in the memory (this needs the opening of a discussion panel; how many records of contemporary jazz are in effect “destined to remain in the memory”, if not vaguely? Next time). The players, whose nimbleness is beyond debate, approach the material with the right balance of clever diplomacy and regulated sixth sense, rarely exalting the fuming aspects of improvisation in favour of a controlled attitude which sounds very welcome. Radding and Irabagon complement their reciprocal finesse splendidly, literate contrapuntal parallelisms calling attention also when the tune does not necessarily require it. Jeff Davis is the most discreet figure of the quartet, humility at the service of the collective yet extremely precise and reliable, a teaching for certain drummers who would have better served themselves by becoming wailing guitarists instead of banging our ears off the head. Still, the real pleasures frequently come courtesy of Kris Davis, improvisational intelligence on a par with her abilities as a refined interlocutor, chordal hues and sparkling arpeggios always noticeable at the forefront of the mix even in the less intelligible sections.

STEVE ADAMS TRIO – Surface Tension (CF 131)
Adams is a member of ROVA, in front of which a knowledgeable listener could even think of genuflecting – enough said. In this record he plays sopranino, alto, tenor and baritone plus bass flute, flanked by Ken Filiano on bass and Scott Amendola on drums. I’m usually kind-hearted towards instrumentalists belonging to the same rank of these three men, provided that clichés and formulas are left out of the equation which, we’re happy to report, is exactly what happens here. This is as fresh a jazz as a herbal antiperspirant: the music, entirely written by Adams, literally breathes, whatever the sort of proposition he presents. Inspired improvisations sounding like well-rehearsed charts, clever swinging, intense soliloquies and considerate interplay with just a pinch of disenchantment: everything is executed with congruence, the musicians’ intents perfectly aligned in a punctilious search for different solutions. While Filiano performs according to his customary instrumental stature, alternating dissonant bopping and arco-tinged sensitive shrewdness, and Amendola acts as a clear-headed rhythmic propeller gifted with remarkable clarity of vision, the leader is obviously a master of the game, the relationship with the mechanics of blowing air into tubes fuelled by a refined sense of suggestiveness and proportional technical monstrosity which makes us appreciate the sheer sound of any note that he emits, with a personal preference for the splendidly evocative considerations on the flute in tracks such as the gorgeous “ninth” (thus called by yours truly because the CD contains ten chapters, but the cover and the press release indicate only eight titles). A flawless example of creative interaction in a trio, a veritable clinic for many aspiring leaders who don’t have a clue about where they want to go.

JOHN O’GALLAGHER TRIO – Dirty Hands (CF 132)
The spectacular audio quality of the recording is extremely helpful in highlighting the instrumental adroitness of alto saxophonist O’Gallagher and his comrades, bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Jeff Williams. People who sound like they’ve been playing together forever, recorded in studio during a pause in a series of concerts and clinics in Braga, Portugal in 2007 which made their spiritual and technical fusion complete. It’s great when, while listening to an album, one can literally penetrate the essence of each instrument (which comes naturally easier when the sources are not too numerous). This happens time and again while we “concentrate on the concentration” demonstrated by the artists all over the course of this disc, which alternates mathematic precision, committed ardour and permanent imaginativeness in a noteworthy recipe, the sounds typical of this format in a way separated, clarified and amplified to express a unique mental picture. This perfect intelligibility is what attributes to the whole a positive mark: without sounding by any means conciliatory – quite the contrary, it is full of acute corners and razor-blade sharpness – this music is also capable of touching the soul at least in part, leaving ample room for reflection and air to breathe for the brain, never overwhelmed by what ignorant analysts often define “urgency” and instead is just inability to listen, which in my book determines a loss of the right to be called “musicians”. O’Gallagher, Kamaguchi and Williams are excellent listeners and the record is, accordingly, brilliant.

DARREN JOHNSTON – The Edge Of The Forest (CF 133)
Remarkable compositions and skilled arrangements designed to create the perfect setting for solos played with zest and exhuding joy to perform. This pretty much sums up the near-perfection of this CD, among my overall favourites in this batch, which gives back copious doses of almost physical pleasure spin after spin – a rare characteristic even in technically superior, high-level releases. Trumpeter and composer Johnston, who has worked among others with Fred Frith and Myra Melford, is aided by Ben Goldberg (clarinet), Sheldon Brown (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Devin Hoff (upright bass), Smith Dobson V (drums) and, exclusively in “Foggy”, by accordionist Rob Reich. A response to the pedestrian attitude of those combos based upon the “nonexistent-theme-thrown-away-before-inconclusive-blowouts” modus operandi, the pieces are constructed with architectural extensiveness, a plurality of diverse keys to open the doors of never-invasive, ever-articulate ramifications leading the group into territories explored with Zappa-esque tightness in uncompromising perseverance, at the same time lightening up the connotations of otherwise unsurprising redundancies. Not for a minute we experience that feel of imminent catastrophe which often underscores excessive freedom, destroying the good intentions that a tune might show: the music flows with the head on its shoulders, the players walking surefooted amidst potential turmoil maintaining rationality and brilliance, and ends exactly where it had to, its latent coldness replaced by a formidable musicality which makes us completely forget about the meaning of “lackadaisical”. A disciplined yet spirited album: if you have to pick just a few in this tentet, this is one of them.
http://temporaryfault.blogspot.com/2009/06/clean-feed-cherry-picking.html