Tag Archives: Ron Horton

Cadence Magazine review by Grego Applegate Edwards

Will Holshouser + Bernardo Sassetti – Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hyms (CF 160)
Clean Feed will turn around and surprise you once in a while with a release that virtually nobody expects. In this case it is a piano-accordian-trumpet-acoustic bass lineup in an unusual Eurofolk-Jazz meld. Now that might give you some misgivings before even hearing it, but hold on. This may be an unusual configuration but the music has appeal. Ron Horton’s trumpet has the requisite obligatto touch, almost like a Wild Bill Davidson transplanted to a village somewhere. Sassetti plays deceptively simple accompaniment sometimes, other times he is an integral voice in the song-structure. Then he’ll step out for a solo that combines the Folk charm with Improv-Jazz inflection. Holshouser plays a folksy accordion that will surprise you with something out of character for such a role, and so will the Phillip’s bass in doing its underpinning. Holshouser’s “Dance of the Dead” in seven is fetching; he pens many (most) of the songs on this set, all of which have interest. “Irreverent” is by Sassetti and it too is in the folksy-meets-progres-sive vein. It’s a disk I thought I wouldn’t like. But it’s so good at what it does, and what it does has so many delightfully unexpected moments, I did.
©Cadence Magazine 2011 www.cadencebuilding.com

All About Jazz review by Mark Corroto

Will Holshouser Trio + Bernardo Sassetti – Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns (CF 160)
Inspired by the sights, sounds, and people of Lisbon, Portugal, American accordionist Will Holshouser collaborates with Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sassetti on a recording that is equal parts jazz (European and American), folk (again European and American—both North and South American), and chamber music. While it may take an ethnomusicologist to sort out all the roots and influences, it can easily be described as “grinning Portuguese music.”
Holshouser’s trio consists of two fine musicians that are unheralded, trumpeter Ron Horton (Andrew Hill and New York’s Jazz Composers Collective) and bassist David Phillips (Freedance). Their previous releases Reed Song (Clean Feed, 2002) and Singing To a Bee (Clean Feed, 2006) display an eclecticism common to modern jazz.

With the addition of Sassetti, a pianist comfortable in classical and jazz who also writes film scores, Holshouser’s concept of chamber jazz is realized with true folk sensibilities both inside and out. It may be the Portuguese sailing traditions of gathering influence from distant ports and seeding ideas with commerce that is at the heart of this recording. On “Danca Palaciana,” by Portuguese guitarist Carlos Paredes, the band might begin at Mozart but they end with the dirty rice trumpet of Louis Armstrong at the port of New Orleans. Thus is the mingling of cultures. The romantic folk of the accordion gives way to the classical piano then Ron Horton’s gutbucket snarling trumpet. The quartet has set sail, bringing Europe to the New World. Hello, we’ve found the blues!

The remaining tracks are compositions from either Holshouser or Sassetti. Both are of the same mind, melding the tango with klezmer, folk with blues, or jazz and chamber music to create populist sounds. With musicians of such quality, it is no chore to slip from one style into the next, producing sweet, patient melodies in “The Oldest Boat,” then jagged complex runs “Irreverente,” and finally the heartbreaking ballad “The Department Of Peace.”

The disc closes as it opened, at the intersection of classical and folk with “Drunkard’s Hymn,” a church located next door to a tavern. The patrons rush between the two, imbibing the tonic of the preacher and the pitcher. The band plays the proper hymn before Horton’s slurred tones open the bar, and the band gives way to a sort of Americana, a folk music surely with roots in the Old World.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=36061

Jazz Blog reviews by Peter Hum

Labels we love VI: Clean Feed

A while back, my fellow jazz journalist *** musician *** dayjobber Bernard Stepien professed to me that he was much better schooled in the avant-garde music of the 1960s and 1970s, and much less conversant with today’s shape of jazz to come. My response to him was: “You should check out what’s on Clean Feed.”

That’s the name of a prolific, nine-year-old Lisbon-based record company, recognized as a leading label by the post-free jazz connoisseurs. According to the Clean Feed website, its 150 recordings are “innovative contemporary jazz projects that can make a difference, building a catalogue that will be internationally recognized by its quality and coherence.” Today, I’ll consider three recent Clean Feed discs, which are admittedly a very small sample to take the measure of the label. 

In addition to recordings by many lesser known but accomplished North American and European players, Clean Feed has released several discs by some of the avant-jazz scene’s established players. Among them is Things Have Got to Change, from reedman and composer Marty Ehlrich. He’s a multi-instrumentalist in his mid-50s who writes for and performs in a variety of instrumentations, and his collaborations with such Association for the Advance of Creative Musicians (AACM) stalwarts as  Muhal Richard Abrams, Leo Smith and Leroy Jenkins go back to the late 1970s. Ehrlich’s Clean Feed disc finds him limiting himself to playing alto saxophone and leading his Rites Quartet, which includes trumpeter James Zollar, cellist Erik Friedlander and drummer Pheeroan Aklaff, all established and admired players in the segment of the jazz community where playing on changes and grooving hard meld with departures from harmonic constraints and other colourful flourishes. Things Have Got to Change consists of five Ehrlich compositions and three by his avant-jazz elder, the saxophonist Julius Hemphill. Throughout, the music is filled with simpatico and vivid expression, as the moods change from tranquil to jagged to urgent to funky — it often feels celebratory.

The disc’s first two tracks are engaging, medium-tempo free-boppers — Rite Rhythms is driven by Friedlander’s groovy ostinato and Aklaff’s minimalist percussion, while Dung, an unrecorded Hemphill composition,  swings as Friedlander plucks quarter notes. Ehrlich and Zollar are both riveting players, alternating liquid lines and piercing cries. Some Kind of Prayer is naturally more sombre, with Zollar’s horn muted and Friedlander picking up his bow for Ehrlich’s hymnal theme. After On the One’s austere bowed cello introduction, Ehrlich and Friedlander state the song’s theme and spin bracing, intertwined melodies. Hemphill’s Dogon A.D. blends odd meter and dissonance with gutsy blues and funk.

I’m very much enjoying the hard-rocking, imaginative and evocative disc Voladores  from Tony Malaby’s Apparitions. Malaby’s a saxophonist in his mid-40s whose combination of brawn, tenderness and unfettered creativity has landed him gigs with John Hollenbeck’s Large Ensemble, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band and other impeccablly inside-and-outside-the-box groups. Malaby’s group Apparitions includes three extremely versatile musicians — bassist Drew Gress, drummer Tom Rainey and drummer John Hollenbeck, who plays not just drums but also marimba, glockenspiel, xylophone and vibraphone, melodica — a whooshy mood-maker in his hands — and even “small kitchen appliances.” As you would expect, the music is always richly textured.

Malaby’s disc is continually delightful, with a masterful mix of direct playing and structural surprises, primal melodies and deep, yet intriguing grooves. The musicians are extraordinarily connected — the evocative music feels less like a parade of solos and more like a succession of group passages, even as Malaby and company tinker with our expectations in terms of how the songs evolve (The standard arcs for a song’s flow of intensity don’t apply on Voladores — and that’s a good thing.) Sour Diesel, Old Smokey and Los Voladores  in particular pack an appealing blend of earthy rhythms and mystery and ought to woo discriminating alt-music listeners. I especially like the programmatic pleasures of Dreamy Drunk, with its slow, baleful beginning giving way to an echo-enhanced stretch of drum-n-bass, which in turn yields to a surprising, rocking conclusion.

Equally brash and mysterious  — despite its title — is Canada Day, from drummer Harris Eisenstadt, a New York-based Canadian expat. Eisenstadt’s joined by trumpeter Nate Wooley, tenor saxophonist Matt Bauder, vibraphonist Chris Dingman on vibraphone and bassist Eivind Opsvik for a set of originals. While these players may be lesser known, they’re do-it-all musicians to a man, balancing sophisticated harmonic playing with more timbrally motivated sounds to create some mighty expansive music. Given this lineup of instruments and how the musicians choose to play them, it’s hard not to think of such mid-1960s inside/out classics as Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch and Jackie McLean’s Destination Out as big-time influences. However Eisenstadt’s music has a contemporary cast too, especially on the fractured funk of After an Outdoor Bath. That track features some especially expressive, hyper-vocal tenor work from Bauder that to me brings to mind both Wayne Shorter and Sam Rivers. Not to be out done, Wooley incorporates sputtering, wheezing and screeching into his solo, to fine effect. Kategeeper is a jumpy, angular, broken funk groover that keeps tensions high. More tranquil and spacious, although nonetheless foreboding, is Eisenstadt’s Halifax. 

That’s a live version of Sentinel, a slow and heavy Masson composition that appears on his quartet’s CD Thirty Six Ghosts. Joining Masson are Colin Vallon playing electric piano, acoustic bassist Patrick Moret and drummer Lionel Friedli for a set of tunes that pull ever so naturally from free jazz, rock, pop to create a wonderfully disorienting blend. Like the North American musicians mentioned above, Masson and his countrymen are intrepid sonic explorers. The disc’s opener, Sirius, supplies emotional complexity from the get-go, with Masson spins melancholy and increasingly urgent lines over floating electric piano chords, burbling bass and clattering drums and cymbals. Le Phasme  is a slow, spare, altered-state song with a patient, shimmering solo by Vallon setting up a cresting turn by Masson. Hellboy is dense, messy, funky and chunky, with Vallon uncorking long lines and distorting his machine’s sound before Masson joins him for the angular theme. Bermuda is all about mixed-meter mysteries, with just a hint of blues, thrown in. Closing the disc is Yurel a plaintive rock ballad — its directness and unabashed lyricism leaven one’s listening after the darker preceding tracks.

Finally, I’ll mention Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns, from the Will Holshouser Trio, joined by the Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sassetti. Holhouser’s a New York accordionist, who has been working with trio-mates David Phillips on bass and trumpeter Ron Horton for a dozen years. Their collaboration with Sassetti is the most tuneful of the Clean Feed discs I’m considering today, riddled as it is with strains of folk and classical chamber music. But there’s edginess and lots of improvisatory gusto as well, not to mention plenty of timbral awareness. I like the stately tinge of Danca Palaciana and playfulness of Dance of the Dead. Department of Peace is an understated but moving ballad filled with clear, rich harmonies and Horton’s affecting, pure horn — a song in search of a foreign movie.

In a bit of cross-platform collaboration, I’ve handed these discs, as well as others by Clean Feed, to Stepien, who will be playing selected tracks on Rabble Without A Cause, his CKCU radio program, tonight (Jan. 13) at 11 p.m. Click here to catch the show on the Interweb.
http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/jazzblog/default.aspx

Jazz Review review by Glenn Astarita

Will Holshouser Trio + Bernardo Sassetti – Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns (CF 160)
Portugal-based Clean Feed Records asked New York based accordionist Will Holshouser and his trio to record with revered Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sassetti for the former’s third release for this label.  And as the marketing material implies, the program offers a cinematic type aura for the mind’s ever discerning eye.  Essentially, Holshouser and his superb band pronounce a seamless integration of Americana, jazz and European folk, among other facets that uncannily fuse edgy improvisation with endearing soundscapes.

It’s a harmonically attractive engagement from start to finish.  Trumpet great Ron Horton morphs a little trad jazz into certain parts as the band spawns a prismatic genre-hopping jaunt that integrates jazz music’s legacy with ultra-modernism and rhythmically charged storylines.  On “Dance Of The Dead,” Holshouser executes an airy, yet pumping ostinato via a cheery theme building approach, offset by free-form type intervals and notions of a sun-drenched, Mediterranean beachfront.  Regardless of tempo or intent, the unit abides by a festive approach, complete with the artists’ synergistic improvisation exercises and odd-metered exploits.

The band swings, and elicits lucid imagery while using space as a vantage point.  And they render a sober muse, sparked by David Phillips’ edgy arco-bass lines during “The Oldest Boat,” which is a piece that offers contrapuntal statements in alliance with a sweet-toned melody line.  Moreover, Sassetti’s semi-classical phrasings offer a striking contrast to Holshouser and Horton’s pungent unison choruses.  But they shift the tide on “Irreverence,” as the musicians delve into call and response episodes, underscored by a sense of urgency.  Simply stated, Holshouser strikes a translucent balance, incorporating progressive jazz and numerous modal concepts, whereas the entertainment factor rides high throughout this gem of a release.
http://www.jazzreview.com/cd/review-20875.html

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Will Holshouser Trio + Bernardo Sassetti – Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns (CF 160)
There are CDs that come along that don’t fit in with one’s preconceptions. Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns (Clean Feed) is one such recording. It’s a meeting of accordionist Will Holshouser’s trio with Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sassetti. Joining Holshouser in the trio is Ron Horton on trumpet and David Phillips on bass.

I can’t tell you exactly what my preoccupations were before I listened. They were a bit murky and undefined. What you get is good music, rather outside the norm of various categorical forms of “jazz.” There’s a version of a piece by famed Portuguese guitarist Carlos Paredes and there are originals.

This is music of a tonally straightforward kind. There is a European folkish element and otherwise there is no easy categorization. Sassetti plays some wonderfully expressive, lyrical piano which is seconded by Holshouser’s adventurous accordion. Horton’s trumpet plays some nice obligatto parts and forms an important part of the proceedings, as does Phillips.

There are playfully free elements, such as on “East River Breeze.” All of it reflects a careful musicianship that is in part a product of the trio’s ten-year tenure, but also of Sassetti’s palpable musical sensitivity.

It’s not quite the usual musical offering. And that difference makes for refreshing chamber jazz that shows off the considerable musical-compositional capabilities of the group. Collaborations are especially successful if the members involved come to new aural territories as a result of the inspiring presence of the fellow travellers involved. I believe that happened here. This is a set that’s easy on the ears yet substantial. It should provided open-minded listeners with much pleasure.
http://gapplegatemusicreview.blogspot.com/

Time Out Lisbon reviews by José Carlos Fernandes

O Milagre da Rua do Alecrim
Crise? Na Clean Feed não se sabe o que quer dizer esta palavra: os discos sucedem-se e o leque de artistas e correntes estéticas não pára de se alargar

“A mais prolífica e ousada editora de jazz deste novo século”. É assim que o prestigiado site All About Jazz se refere à Clean Feed, que já tinha distinguido como uma das melhores editoras de jazz de 2007. Os encómios – mais saborosos por virem da América – justificam-se, pois o catálogo da editora da Rua do Alecrim já ronda os 170 discos e acaba de ser ampliado com uma mão-cheia de novos títulos.

Apesar do seu talento e reputação e de se rodear invariavelmente de músicos de elite, o saxofonista norte-americano Marty Ehrlich possui uma discografia imprevisível, que oscila entre o inspirado (Just Before the Dawn ou Malinke’s Dance) e o corriqueiro. Things Have Got To Change (****), que marca a estreia deste grande jazzman na Clean Feed, pertence ao primeiro grupo. Este seu Rites Quartet (gravado em Lisboa, de regresso de um concerto em Ponta Delgada) dificilmente poderia falhar, pois conta com James Zollar na trompete, Erik Friedlander no violoncelo e Pheeroan akLaff na bateria. Friedlander é o mais surpreendente (para quem não o conheça de outras andanças), impelindo o grupo num pizzicato elástico ou extraindo lamentos pungentes com o arco. akLaff tem a arte de conciliar potência e subtileza, gerando propulsão e swing sem obscurecer os volteios do violoncelo. Além das composições do líder, há três peças de Julius Hemphill – e não creio que alguém resista a ser hipnotizado pela que fecha o disco, a mítica “Dogon AD”.

Qualquer grupo que tenha como baterista Tom Rainey ou John Hollenbeck pode considerar-se afortunado. Ter Rainey e Hollenbeck é ganhar o Euromilhões. É isso que acontece em Voladores, do saxofonista Tony Malaby (****). Malaby, que já marcara presença na Clean Feed com Tamarindo (2007), surge agora o seu quarteto Apparitions, com o contrabaixo seguríssimo de Drew Gress e os dois super-bateristas já mencionados. Hollenbeck, que toma o lugar que no disco de estreia foi de Michael Sarin, não se limita à bateria, dispersando-se por marimba, vibrafone, xilofone, glockenspiel, melódica e utensílios de cozinha. Não se espere desta dupla o estardalhaço abrutalhado e testosterónico que, no jazz-rock, costuma estar associado a baterias dobradas – em vez disso há difusas e intrigantes nuvens percussivas que, com o avançar dos temas, se acastelam e podem gerar tornados furiosos.
Os “Voladores” do título são aqueles mexicanos que giram, de cabeça para baixo e muitos metros acima do solo, suspensos por cordas de um mastro, evocando rituais pré-colombianos de celebração da Terra e das estações. Este Voladores permite a experiência inebriante de girar pelo céu pendurado pelos pés, sem abandonar o conforto do sofá.

O quarteto Parallels do saxofonista Nicolas Masson é inteiramente suíço, mas desmente frontalmente a boutade que apresenta o relógio de cuco como único contributo helvético para a civilização. Em vez de aprazíveis paisagens alpinas, Thirty Six Ghosts (*****) oferece poderosos grooves urbanos, com raízes rock e funk e afinidades com o M-Base, alimentados por Patrice Moret (contrabaixo) e Lionel Friedli (bateria). Pese embora o mérito de todos os intervenientes, quem “rouba o espectáculo” é Colin Vallon, um mago do Fender Rhodes, que tanto urde teias vaporosas como alimenta ritmos endemoninhados. Masson diz-se influenciado por Messiaen e Rage Against The Machine (e tudo o que está pelo meio) e se os segundos não são alheios às faixas mais “musculadas”, o primeiro paira sobre as águas negras, lisas mas inquietantes, de “Le Phasme”.

O trio do acordeonista Will Holshouser com Ron Horton (trompete) e David Phillips (contrabaixo), que já gravara dois discos muito recomendáveis para a Clean Feed, Reed Song e Singing to a Bee, associou-se, por inspirada sugestão da editora, ao pianista Bernardo Sassetti. Felizmente não se ficaram pelo espectáculo ao vivo nos Dias da Música de 2008 e deram um salto aos estúdios Valentim de Carvalho, de onde saiu este Palace Ghosts & Drunken Hymns (****). O disco abre com Carlos Paredes e uma “Dança Palaciana” que perdeu todo o carácter palaciano e volteia, ébria, num bar de uma Nova Orleães submersa por mais um furacão calamitoso. “Dance of the Dead” são os Penguin Cafe Orchestra de visita ao México, “Narayama” uma belíssima paisagem que emerge da bruma, “East River Breeze” tem walking bass dançante e uma trompete que narra as agruras da vida num lirismo desbragado. Há afinidades sonoras com o saudoso grupo Charms of the Nightsky, de Dave Douglas, mas o espectro emocional de Palace Ghosts & Drunken Hymns é mais amplo e à melancolia soma tons rústicos e circenses. Há momentos em que não se estranharia se Tom Waits entrasse em cena, acusando o piano – e restantes instrumentos – de ter andado a beber.

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