Tag Archives: Quintet

JazzWrap review by Stephan Moore

CF 288Elliott Sharp’s Aggregat – Quintet (CF 288)
So I really don’t own much Elliot Sharp as leader. I have a number of albums featuring him as a member. So when I spent the last few weeks listening to two albums from one of his most recent groups, Aggregat, I was completely blown away. A really well focused, well imaginative ensemble that is more than the sum of its parts.

Complicated and sometimes groovy arrangements sift through the group’s debut, simply titled, Aggregat, “The Grip” and “Allelia.” Both pieces featuring abstract constructions from Sharp on sax augmented by more soothing and sparse paths laid out by Jones and Smith. Sharp’s horn sounding like barge horn alerting the other ships in its path.

Sharp is primarily on sax with this trio but also blends end his brilliant guitar work as well. This is featured on “Positronics,” a lovely rolling number that at times reminded me of contemporaries Thurston Moore or Marc Ribot. While the piece may sound free floating, it slow builds into a nice groove that even feels track from Bitches Brew era Miles Davis.

On the Aggregat’s follow up, Quintet, the group has expanded in size to its simply stated title. The addition of Nate Wooley and Terry Green provides new variety and depth to the overall sound and vision for Sharps group. “Katabatics” is a collision of horns, Smith’s poly-rhythms and the steady nature of Jones, all boiling over into a boisterous but lovely celebration of creativity.

“Blues For Butch” while using the blues as its blueprint, is more than that. It is highly elevated piece with great sections of improvised and explosive work from the horn section. “Lacus Temporis” and “Cherenkov Light” are both more experimental in nature and give a nice glimpse into the individual talents of each musicians.

Both Aggregat and Quintet are solidly composed by the multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp and beautiful performed by his bandmates. This was a great starting point for me and hopefully a good moment for you the listener to become fully invested in Elliott Sharp’s expanded vision.

Point of Departure review by Troy Collins

CF 288Elliott Sharp Aggregat –  Quintet (CF 288)
When Clean Feed Records released renowned multi-instrumentalist and composer Elliott Sharp’s Aggregat in 2012, it was met with a round of bemused, albeit enthusiastic reviews. After all, it was the first session to be issued featuring Sharp’s reed playing as prominently as his distinctively amplified fretwork. For years Sharp has augmented his six-string extrapolations with brief detours on soprano saxophone or bass clarinet and occasionally, tenor saxophone, but rarely for entire tunes – let alone albums. Supported by the intrepid rhythm section of bassist Brad Jones and drummer Ches Smith, Sharp was able to convincingly transpose his cyber-punk inflected themes into a primarily acoustic format.

That project led to a new incarnation; bolstered by an expanded lineup, Quintet ups the ante considerably over the previous trio effort. Joined by trumpet phenomenon Nate Wooley and rising trombonist Terry Green, Sharp forgoes his trusty axe altogether, sticking to his trio of horns exclusively throughout this unamplified set. Wooley’s bold use of extended techniques and Green’s highly expressive vocalizations are a perfect match for Sharp’s own vanguard aesthetic; although Sonny Rollins’ muscular lyricism is an obvious influence on the leader’s bristling tenor runs, the tonal manipulations of visionary saxophonists like Steve Lacy and Archie Shepp are even more prominent in his wheelhouse.

Recorded in Bryce Goggin’s studio, the room’s natural reverb and the fact that each composition ranges from a concise two to eight minutes in length lends a sense of sonic cohesiveness to the proceedings, despite the diversity of Sharp’s methodology. “Anabatics” embodies the sort of skirling contours and vertiginous intervals commonly associated with Sharp’s thorny writing, yet the sprightly free-bop opener “Magnetar” evokes Ornette Coleman’s early Atlantic sides, as the three horn frontline deftly navigates the rhythm section’s briskly modulating tempo shifts. The cinematic travelogue “Arc of Venus” showcases an even subtler side of the quintet, its exotic soundscape colored by ghostly muted horns and dramatic mallet work, while the aleatoric impressionism at the center of “Lacus Temporis” is not immediately identifiable as part of Sharp’s oeuvre at all. Nonetheless, such excursions provide an aural respite from more turbulent fare, with Sharp’s young sidemen offering consistently stellar contributions at every turn.

Green proves a most enthralling player, with un-tempered growls, slurs and smears bolstering his vociferous phrases, but it’s Wooley who nearly steals the show. As one of the most inventive and imposing young trumpet players performing today, Wooley’s technical innovations extend Bill Dixon’s legacy, expanding the timbral range of the horn into previously unheard realms of nuance and texture. Attentive to the material at hand, Wooley customizes his tonal approach to dynamically suit each work, plying barely audible metallic cries throughout the spectral meditation “Cherenkov Light” and unleashing well-timed blasts of coruscating white noise on the oblique swinger “Katabatics,” perfectly complementing each piece in turn.

Sharp easily holds his own in the company of these spirited young Turks, matching their unfettered discourse with an experienced fervency that manifests in an expressionistic array of multiphonic split-tones, sustained altissimo refrains and sinuous pitch bends. Emboldened by a collaborative mindset emblematic of the group’s name, Quintet is Sharp’s most conventionally jazz-oriented – and thereby intriguing – album to date.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

CF 288Elliott Sharp – Aggregat Quintet (CF 288)
A passagem do projecto Aggregat de trio a quinteto não se limitou à adição de Nate Wooley (trompete) e Terry L. Green (trombone) às palhetas de Sharp e à máquina “pan-rítmica” de Brad Jones (baixo) e Ches Smith (bateria). Se nestas páginas se escreveu que o simpático disco em trio era uma ilha mainstream na discografia de Sharp, já Aggregat Quintet soa como a banda residente de um circo que tem um David Lynch encharcado de anfetaminas como mestre de cerimónias.
Fanfarras adstringentes e maníacas, caleidoscópios ácidos, turbilhões ferozes e ritmos entrecortados colidem num caos controlado que exerce um fascínio irresistível – a magia só se quebra em “Lacus Temporis” e “Cherenkov Light”, onde a efervescência dá lugar a uma desolação azeda.

Expresso review by João Santos

CF 288Elliott Sharp Aggregat – Quintet (CF 288)
Com mais vontade do que acerto, escreveu um dia Torquato Neto: “Há várias maneiras de se cantar e fazer música: Gilberto Gil prefere todas”. O vaticínio, que, presume-se, admitia mentalmente a hipótese de vir o baiano a perfilhar uma carreira punida pela inconsistência, ganhou eco numa declaração de Butch Morris, proferida já, esta sim, no contexto de uma apresentação do percurso de Elliott Sharp, quando, em “Doing the Don’t”, ajuizava o maestro ao realizador Bert Shapiro: “[Na música de Sharp] Vão ouvir algo que nunca ouviram na vida e que, seja ou não do vosso agrado, de algum modo os vai inspirar”.

Pela mesma razão encontra-se tanto de espúrio na discografia do guitarrista nova-iorquino. Porque à ambição de marcar a história do jazz moderno, por exemplo – o que, imagine-se, lhe garantiria a posição imediatamente anterior à de Sonny Sharrock no “Penguin Guide to Jazz”, caso, lá está, lhe tivessem consistentemente reservado entrada os autores da enciclopédia –, sobrepôs-se o desejo de documentar o inclassificável.

O ano de 2013 provou-o, com “Momentum Anomaly” compendiando solos acústicos, “Haptikon” testemunhando um interesse pela inteligência artificial, “Crossing the Waters” assinalando o batismo de um novo trio, “In The Pelagic Zone” reunindo obras de câmara e o DVD “Ostryepolya” registando duetos com Scott Fields. Mas é neste “Quintet” – em que, a favor dos sopros, renuncia integralmente à guitarra, aliando-se a Nate Wooley, Terry Green, Brad Jones e Ches Smith – que coloca do lado certo aquilo que adora pôr do avesso. Ou seja, o mais atípico dos seus discos é o mais imediato e indispensável dos que já fez na vida.

Free Jazz review by Paul Acquaro

CF 288Elliot Sharp Aggregat – Quintet (CF 288)
On guitarist Elliot Sharp’s new recording you’ll hear plenty of horns and a fiery rhythm section, but you will not hear a guitar.

Fans of the first Aggregat album, by the Elliot Sharp Trio, know that Sharp switched to saxophone for a good portion of the recording. Always an experimental guitarist, Aggregat showed a more ‘conventional’ side of Sharp’s compositions of angular heads and ensemble playing. On the quintet album, Sharp’s convoluted tunes unwind in similarly wonderful ways, perhaps even a bit knottier than the trio.

‘Magnatar’ kicks off he album with an elliptical figure from trumpeter Nate Wooley. Sharp’s sax offers a counter melody before all three horns break into an improvisation that contains the right ingredients: conflict, agreement, stops and starts. Bassist Brad Jones and dummer Ches Smith keep the piece flowing with a tight groove until a stuttering passage ends the tune. ‘Katabatics’ features trombonist Terry Green on a growling and churning solo, complimented by Sharp’s spiky runs. Another highlight is ‘Blues for Butch’ where a composed head quickly passes into a dense group impovization. The closing tune, ‘Cherenkov Light’ is a study of extended techniques on the horns, where breath and space are on equal footing with the instruments actual tones and notes.

The group interplay throughout is exemplary and the potentially crowded musical space of a quintet is given plenty of space to stretch out. Quintet is a tough and rewarding recording that can stand many many listens, it doesn’t pull punches and has many passages that are as challenging as ones that are easily digestible, which in turns makes for a fantastic album.

Le Son du Grisli review by Guillaume Belhomme

CF 288Elliott Sharp Aggregat – Quintet (CF 288)
De l’Aggregat d’Elliott Sharp, voici le Quintet – et non pas : voici l’Aggregat Quintet d’Elliott Sharp. Projet pensé par le guitariste (ici aux saxophones et clarinette basse) pour regrouper en une « unité sonique » des personnalités différentes, Aggregat fut d’abord un trio (responsable d’un… Aggregat assez peu convaincant publié l’année dernière sur Clean Feed). Aujourd’hui quintet, le titre de la nouvelle référence du projet était tout trouvé.

Ce sont Nate Wooley (trompette) et Terry L. Green (trombone) qui ont, de leurs pratiques iconoclastes, transformé Aggregat : ainsi l’introduction (Magnetar) entend-elle Sharp réussir à composer au son d’influences éclatées – n’y entend-on pas, tout à la fois, Terry Riley, Jay Jay Johnson et Sonny Rollins ? – mais empêchées aussi : récalcitrant, le discours épousera finalement l’allure d’un jazz tortueux que pertes totales de repères et encombrements subits ne cessent de faire gonfler.

Sur l’accompagnement solide (mais aussi plus discret que de coutume) de Brad Jones et Ches Smith, les souffleurs rivalisent alors d’intentions tranchées (Qubits, Historical Friction) quand ils ne font pas cause commune sur la méthode à employer (Dissolution) ou l’hommage à rendre (Blues for Butch, Laugh Out Loud (For Lol Coxhill)). Ayant effacé les traces laissées derrière lui d’un jazz vivace (au son des décharges lentes de Lacus Temporis et des surprenants atermoiements de Chrenkov Light), Aggregat disparaîtra. Il reviendra sans doute, sous une autre forme peut-être.