Tag Archives: Mike Pride

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

JASON STEIN’S LOCKSMITH ISIDORE – Three Less Than Between (CF 153)Incontrovertibly struck by Eric Dolphy’s melodic jumpiness, bass clarinettist Jason Stein doesn’t wish that influence to take complete possess of his artistry. Having chosen a difficult tool for being remembered – in order to tackle a greater number of creative challenges, he says – Stein works in the alley where memory and newness fight, producing a kind of cunningly disjointed linear matter that sounds both antagonistic and lucid. In Three Less Than Between he’s flanked by equally clever companions, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Mike Pride; the resulting hour of interplay exudes vibrancy and authority. Three personalities of equal weight share a collective profit; the most prominent constituent – the leader’s incessant search for different ways of saying something meaningful via a scarcely diffused reed instrument – does not detract from the feel of utter functionality elicited by Roebke’s inspired experimentations and Pride’s appropriate rhythmic dislocations. Needless to say, in such a milieu there’s practically no room for melancholy or fond reminiscence: the trio looks constantly forward, assuming that angular counterpoints and opinionated witticism do best in a world where men who sweat with eyes closed pretending to be connected with superior entities hide a shortage of inventiveness behind the façades of those invocations. Better staying concrete and bright, a lesson that Locksmith Isidore have learnt without flinching and, for our good luck, keep applying.
http://touchingextremes.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/jason-steins-locksmith-isidore-%e2%80%93-three-less-than-between/

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Jazzgram review by Alain Drouot

Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore – Three Less Than Between (CF 153)
Jazz musicians who focus exclusively on the bass clarinet are rare: Todd Marcus (on the East Coast), Denis Colin (in Paris, France), and Rudi Mahall (in Berlin, Germany) come to mind. But Chicago can also boast to be the home (since 2005) of one such artist, Jason Stein. As a member of Kyle Bruckmann’s Wrack, Keefe Jackson’s Project Project or Ken Vandermark’s Bridge 61, Stein has clearly been associated with the North Side free jazz scene. But like many of his peers he is not that easy to pigeonhole as can testify his own project, Locksmith Isidore. This is the second album by this trio which also includes fellow Chicago bass player Jason Roebke and New York drummer Mike Pride. To this day, the obvious reference for the bass clarinet remains the great Eric Dolphy. However, Stein’s music and style owes a debt to another colossus, Ornette Coleman. The clarinetist’s idea is to aim for a dual approach that encompasses abstraction and swing. And the drummer’s and bassist’s roles can be viewed as divided along those lines. Pride, who has acquired a solid reputation as a madman, shows a different side here. He harnesses his energy to provide a powerful drive. On the other hand, Roebke’s playing could not be further from a walking bass. The string player is more interested in phrasing jagged lines or working on textures that will provide a stark backdrop (he also takes a few impressive and muscular solos). This emboldens Stein who can take a pretty and frail melody (“Stevenesque”) and deconstruct it as he sees fit. Elsewhere, he takes a more direct approach to explore timbres and tones. Doing so, the clarinetist is carving a place for himself in the bass clarinet brotherhood.

All About Jazz New York review by John Sharpe

Rudi Mahall/Simon Nabatov/Robert Landfermann/Christian Lillinger – Nicht Ohne Robert Volume 1 (JazzHaus Musik)
Sonnenschirm Heinrich Köbberling (Jazzwerkstatt)
Jason Stein – In Exchange for a Process  (Leo)
Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore – Three Less Than Between (CF 153)

Although the bass clarinet had found favor in the past (Ellington’s baritone saxophonist Harry Carney occasionally toted one) it wasn’t until Eric Dolphy blazed the trail in 1960 that the instrument began to be more widely aired. In his seminal book Jazz German critic Joachim-Ernst Berendt writes, “unlike the conventional, clarinet, the bass clarinet can also produce colors that jazz saxophonists appreciate: vocal, rough, overblown sounds.” Not surprisingly then most of the musicians who use the larger horn also choose to double on saxophones, using the more sonorous instrument for a change of pace or tone. Even Dolphy, who allied his virtuoso approach with a wildly vocalized tone to electrifying effect, notably on Ornette’s Free Jazz but also with Coltrane on Live at the Village Vanguard, also featured alto saxophone and flute. But that’s no longer the case. These four discs, feature two reedmen who have taken bass clarinet as their sole axe and they make a convincing case for the scope it can cover and the benefits of specialization.

Rudi Mahall (veteran of various groups led by pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach) assumes a prominent role on Nicht Ohne Robert Volume 1, the first of a putative ongoing series documenting first-time meetings with upcoming German bassist Robert Landfermann. The young bassist has chosen his accomplices wisely to start this venture; alongside the experienced bass clarinetist are accomplished improviser and composer Simon Nabatov (piano) and Cologne regular Christian Lillinger (drums). Recorded at the renowned Loft, the four pieces are freely improvised without lead sheets, rehearsals or agreements to act as a safety net. Mahall jumps in from the off, starting in the clarinet range, Nabatov etching blocky chords in support, presaging a sequence of dense exciting interplay. The lengthy first piece sets the template for the set: shifting combinations with the focus passing round the band in unpredictable fashion. Nabatov probes and pummels with two-handed mastery. While Mahall dances elegantly on “I”, he traverses the further reaches elsewhere, signaled by the harsh blasts and vocalized whimpers of “II”, before enjoying a concluding duet with the nimble Landfermann on “IV”.

Sonnenschirm under the leadership of drummer Heinrich Köbberling contains a 65-minute program of nine originals supplemented by three short duets for Mahall and each bandmember. There is a relaxed airy feel to the date with pleasantly harmonious tunes and soloing, like sunshine sparkling on a glistening swimming pool. Mahall seems intent on echoing West Coast tenor saxophone or clarinet in preference to demonstrating the distinctive traits of the instrument. In itself that is fascinating, but also fits right in with the milieu of Köbberling’s quartet. Expatriate American bassist Paul Imm contributes melodic solos, as on “Pisces”, and understated time while Köbberling is similarly tasteful and responsive. Pianist Tino Derado also doubles on accordion, overdubbed to round out some of the ensembles, and pitches in with some bright solos as on “You Better Put It In The Tupperware” and “Bobby”. While Mahall does inevitably tend to wildness around the edges, he might easily have been on standard clarinet for this comparatively mainstream session, an avenue worth investigating for those enamored of the ECM sound but looking for a new name to pick up on.

Unlike Mahall, Chicago-based Jason Stein’s conception focuses firmly on the extremes capable of being extracted from the bass clarinet and all that lies between. It would be a fruitless task attempting to describe each track on Stein’s solo outing In Exchange for a Process. Each of the 11 cuts is an improvisation based around exploration of unconventional sound and pitch gained through a variety of advanced techniques. Stein seems to alight upon promising areas and then prospects them at greater length, like the keypad popping of “Paint By Number” or whinnying cries of “Temporary Framing of Dr. J”. However, notwithstanding Stein’s invention, ultimately the lack of differentiation afforded by charts, context or colleagues makes for a demanding listen even though spread over no more than 42 minutes. Three Less Than Between is the sophomore offering from Stein’s Locksmith Isidore. Over the course of an hour the trio delineates an intense free-form territory across 11 tracks, even though all are credited to the hornman. Stein has annexed associates who are as interested in timbre and tone as him, which manifests in a well-balanced trio of equals confident in how they will react and alert to new directions. Jason Roebke’s assertive bass veers between tough-toned bursts of rhythm, ringing harmonics and arco scrapes and blends well with drummer Mike Pride, who moves easily between clattering texture and more gradated time. Stein has some lovely moments, stretching out on “Stevenesque” with extended squeals developing organically from the theme, touching on the same sort  of areas as his solo album, but with greater success derived from the more overtly musical setting. A pleasing passage on “Augusta Gun” pitches hesitant and slurred bass clarinet against metallic percussion textures before the walking bass takes to the floor again. While the heads are no more than functional, they provide a great launching pad for involved free collective improv, from the perky opening “Protection And Provocation” to the doomy portent of the low-key “Sad Crestwood”.

Le Son du Grisli review by Luc Bouquet

Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore – Three Less Than Between (CF 153)
Pointe déjà dans cet enregistrement chicagoan de mai 2008 ce qui se confirmera quatre mois plus tard avec In Exchange for a Process et qui pourrait se résumer en une seule phrase, lourde de sens et de mémoire : dejarme solo ! Soit un corps perdu et souvent sans repères implorant l’ivresse des solitudes.

Dans Protection and Provocation, acte fort d’un salivaire énervé et rageur, la clarinette basse de Jason Stein trouve, sans élan, le vif chemin des convulsions extrêmes. Quelques minutes plus tard, la voici seule, à nouveau, avec l’étrange Stevenesque, thème à transformations multiples. Fausse ballade au souffle microtonal appuyé, le jeu consiste ici à se perdre et à ne plus se retrouver. C’est visiblement cette voie que cherche le clarinettiste tout au long de ce disque. Entre stridences, graves caverneux, ruptures en pleine-teinte, affolements d’anches, il peut compter sur Jason Roebke et Mike Pride pour alimenter cette recherche d’indépendance et de liberté. Ainsi d’une forme à l’autre, d’un souffle vorace à un filet de son à peine audible, Locksmith Isidore se démarque et s’extirpe radicalement d’une scène chicagoane si prometteuse hier, bien décevante aujourd’hui.
http://grisli.canalblog.com/archives/2010/04/29/17728478.html

Free Jazz review by Stef

Jason Stein is a bass clarinetist. He plays no other instrument. This gives him the opportunity to focus his skills, and with great success. Jason Stein is a musician. He records to make music, not to demonstrate his technical skills.

Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore – Three Less Than Between (CF 153)
****
After “The Calcululs Of Loss”, this is the second release by the trio, now with Jason Roebke on bass, and still with Mike Pride on drums. The album consists of eleven compositions by Stein, covering lots of ground, using the entire jazz catalogue to bring his music, that is free and exploratory in nature, yet swings, bops and sings at the same time.The switch of cello to bass gives the compositions a totally different color, with the bass a better complement to the bass clarinet because of their low sound companionship, and a better complement for the drums because of their comparative power and drive. Despite the lower sound registers, Stein is a master in seeking contrast too. He can play high sensitive notes, whether in overtones or straight, as he does on “Stevenesque”, the second track, which is very airy and open-textured, as is the sensitive “Most Likely Illiterate”. Other pieces, in contrast, such as “Izn’t Your Paper Clip” bring quite dense, nervous agitation, propulsed forward by the excellent rhythm section. “Saved By A Straw”, and the title track, are pure avant-garde sound exploration by the trio. But then you get some real boppish pieces like “Protection And Provocation”, or “Amy Music” (see clip below), on which the legacy of Dolphy shines through. You get the picture, a rich, varied, warm and exploratory album. http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/

Stash Dauber review

Mo’ Clean Feed Records
The demand for free jazz and creative improvised music must be a whole lot greater in Europe than it is here in these United States, because the folks at Clean Feed Records in Lisbon continue to release interesting, challenging recordings at a rate that would probably break the bank at an American label. Once again, it’s a varied bunch:

Will Holshouser Trio + Bernanrdo Sassetti – Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns (CF 161)
New York-based accordionist Will Holshouser and his drummerless trio meet up with Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sassetti on Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns. Together, they produce a music of lush romanticism, highlighted by Ross Horton’s trumpet, which alternately waxes lyrical and sings sassy, and Dave Phillips’ lovely work on arco bass. This is chamber jazz at its best, alternately wistful and playful, cast from the same mold as Dave Douglas’ Charms of the Night Sky. The title refers to the music’s European setting (recorded in Portugal) and “the mysterious link between alcohol and spirituality,” which sounds good to me.

Michaël Attias Renku – In Coimbra (CF 162)
Well-traveled Israeli-born altoist Michael Attias has a pensive sound, influenced by Lee Konitz and Jimmy Lyons (both of whom have compositions covered on Renko in Coimbra), with an acrid tone and acerbic ideas. He’s ably supported here by bassist John Hebert and drummer Satoshi Takeishi. The three can play with Art Ensemble of Chicago-like minimalism (“Do & the Birds”) or David S. Ware-ish intensity (“Fenix Culprit,” featuring a cameo by pianist Ross Lossing), sounding their best on “Universal Constant,” where their dialogue moves from abstraction (with Satoshi applying some extended techniques to his traps) to something approaching funk.

Empty Cage Quartet – Gravity (CF 161)
Empty Cage Quartet are so called because the members’ initials spell out MTKJ. “We are not conceptualists,” trumpeter Kris Tiner insists, in Gravity’s liner notes, which rival Cecil Taylor’s for density (if not obscurity). He and his mates Jason Mears (sax, clarinet), Ivan Johnson (bass) and Paul Kikuchi (drums) play through alternating sections from two pieces (“Gravity” and “Tzolkien”) that sound through-composed but are probably improvised, their horn polyphony and tightly-tuned drums evoking an agreeable collision of Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time” with Out to Lunch, Point of Departure, or one of those.

Tony Malaby Apparitions – Voladores (CF 165)
Voladores is the latest outing for Tony Malaby’s Apparitions. On tenor, Malaby raises a plaintive cry like mid-‘60s Ornette on the previously unrecorded Coleman composition “Homogeneous Emotions,” and gets a burry, Sam Rivers-like sound on “Old Smoky,” where he’s as forceful as Rivers can be in a trio setting. On “Dreamy Drunk,” he comes across like Archie Shepp channeling Ben Webster and makes effective use of multiphonics. The basic horn-bass-drums trio is augmented by John Hollenbeck’s tuned percussion, which adds textural variety to the proceedings. On “Sour Diesel,” Hollenbeck injects melodica into the harmonic mixture (the way Jack Dejohnette used to on his ECM sides) while Malaby follows a circuitous melodic path on soprano. Might just be the pick of this litter.

Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore – Three Less Than Between (CF 153)
To play the bass clarinet is to invite comparisons to Eric Dolphy, but Jason Stein — a native Lawn Guylander now based in Chicago — volunteered to be thrown into that briar patch after switching from guitar as a teenager. On Three Less Than Between, he’s creating a vocabulary for his instrument on the fly as he goes: growls, squeals, intervallic leaps, and staccato lines, aided by a rhythm section – bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Mike Pride – that’s equally inventive in supporting him. “Isn’t Your Paper Clip” explodes with energy, culminating in an old-fashioned clattering drum solo; the denouement is a relatively straightahead interlude with walking bass, followed by a restless bass solo with sympathetic drum accompaniment.

Nicolas Masson Parallels – Thirty Six Ghosts (CF 163)
Nicolas Masson Parallels’ Thirty Six Ghosts is proof that the land of William Tell has produced more than just watches and chocolate. The Shorteresque tenorman and his all-Swiss quartet (which features electric piano and stand-up bass) play a mostly introspective brand of jazz that’s informed by a love of 20th century composed music and, less audibly, alt-rock. Not surprisingly, the proximate model here is a less wired/weird version of early ‘70s Miles, particularly on the relentlessly funky “Hellboy.”

The Godforgottens – Never Forgotten, Always Remembered (CF 164)
The Godforgottens is the name adopted by Swedish trumpeter Magnus Broo and the Sten Sandell trio. On Never Forgotten, Always Remembered, they perform three lengthy extemporations – the longest nearly 20 minutes – with titles that are variants of the album’s title. On “Always Forgotten,” they create brooding, oceanic swells with Sandell playing first-time Hammond B3 as well as piano. “Never Remembered” starts with a cascade of drum thunder from Paal Nilssen-Love, over which Broo and Sandell spar. “Remembered Forgotten” starts as a duel between Broo and Nilssen-Love before Sandell and bassist Johan Berthling enter the fray. Their interchanges can be either exhilarating or exhausting, depending on your point of view.
http://stashdauber.blogspot.com/2009/12/mo-clean-feed-records.html

Jazz’N’More review by Jürg Solothurnmann

cf104JASON STEIN’S LOCKSMITH ISIDORE – A Calculus of Loss (CF 104)
Note: 4
Ausserhalb der lange dominierenden AACM hat sich in Chicago in der Nachfolge des Multiinstrumentalisten Hal Russell von den 1990er Jahren eine neue Free Jazz-Szene entwickelt mit Exponenten wie Ken Vandermark. Mit diesem und anderen Gruppen im Mittelwesten hat der Bassklarinettist Stein gearbeitet, bevor er als Leader hervorgetreten ist. Aufnahmen von Eric Dolphy veränderten die Perspektive des vormaligen Rockgitarristen total, der darauf bei Charles Gayle und Milford Graves in die Lehre ging. Der junge Stein nimmt eine stilistische Mittelposition ein und kann ebenso groovend melodische Themen weiterspinnen wie auch freie Sound-Improvisationen entwickeln. In langsamen Stücken ist sein rauchiger Sounds mit viel Luft nahe bei Jimmy Giuffre. Zum eher tiefen Tonbereich der Bassklarinette passt das helle Cello von Kevin Davis ausgezeichnet, der fast ausschliesslich pizzicato, aber keineswegs dünn klingende melodisch-rhythmische Silberfäden einwebt. Das Trio hat ein weites dynamisches Spektrum und führt eng verzahnte Diskurse. Luftig und zauberhaft-subtil sticht besonders „Caroline and Sam“ hervor, in dem der musikalische Drummer Pride sparsam das Vibraphon einsetzt. Darauf folgt ein expressiver „Schreiwettbewerb“ zwischen Klarinette und Davis, aber auch dieser musikalisch. Das Trio ist im September übrigens auf Europa-Tournee. js