Tag Archives: The Ames Room

The Squid´s Ear review by Brian Olewnick

The Ames Room – Bird Dies (CF 231)
How do they do it? How does the Ames Room continue to wring substantial blood from that ancient stone? The stone in question being the moldering carcass of no-holds-barred free jazz, a lamented beast that has regularly suffered indignities these past couple of decades by well-meaning folk who insist on CPR maneuvers long after the entity has flat-lined. At least part of the answer has to do with discerning musicians who have wide experience in other genres honing in on the seriously vital sources of the music and dealing with the essences found there, not the superficialities. I recall talking with drummer Will Guthrie several years ago, exchanging our deep enthusiasm and love for the music of Roscoe Mitchell and this is certainly one of the foundation points in the music of the Ames Room.

This single track (46 minute) live performance from March, 2010 owes a good portion of its success to Guthrie, who creates waves of relentless rhythm, sounding liked an updated version of Ed Blackwell (perhaps with a trace of Ronald Shannon Jackson as well), never randomly thrashing always dead on point, not just prodding his band mates but thwacking them. His compatriots, Jean-Luc Guionnet on alto and Clayton Thomas on bass, are superb as well. Guionnet has also investigated that nexus between contemporary noise and free jazz (when he’s not conjuring unearthly sounds from old organs) and here just lays into the music in a manner reminiscent of Mitchell at his most ferocious (“Tkhke”, anyone?). The trio rages virtually non-stop, rarely flagging, seldom reiterating ideas, winging from one notion to another. Well, there are a few minutes about halfway in when one suspects they’re about to collapse from exhaustion but they soon enough pick things up and return with renewed vigor.

As fine a free jazz album as I can imagine being produced this second decade of the 21st century.


Music and More review by Tim Niland

The Ames Room – Bird Dies (CF 231)
The Ames Room is a collective improvising jazz group consisting of Clayton Thomas on bass, Jean-Luc Guionnet on alto saxophone and Will Guthrie on drums. On this album they craft a wildly exciting 42 minute continuous live improvisation that morphs, evolves, dreams and cries like a living creature. The liner notes name-check Sonny Rollins trio recordings and classic AACM experiments, and while those influences are certainly there, what I hear most from the single improvisational blowout “Bird Dies” is the monstrous lung power of Rahsaan Roland Kirk from his ‘Saxophone Contcerto” on the album Prepare Thyself to Deal With a Miracle and the epic trio improvisation that saxophonist Jon Irabagon recorded last year on the album Foxy. Recorded at the end of a two week tour, the band launches into “Bird Dies” with reckless abandon, worrying less about solo statements than collective improvisation: creating music that warps the very fabric of space and time itself. The trio is consistently excellent and plays with an empathic grace bordering on the paranormal. Whether you choose to read this album as a commentary on modern jazz since the death of Charlie Parker or as up to the moment modern jazz, anyone interested in exciting high powered music will certainly want to check this out.

JazzWrap review by Stephan Moore

The Ames Room – Bird Dies The Ames Room (CF 231)
Power trios come with various sounds and sizes. The Ames Room may be small but their sound is bold and forceful. This French/Australian trio lays into you like the first time you got beat up as a kid. It’s sheer brute force and once you finally give in there is this little blissful nature that sets in. The feeling that this might be all there is left for you. But The Ames Room help you realize there’s more inside the noise than you realize.

The Ames Room have only been on the scene for a short time (since 2007) but have crafted a sound that is blistering and beautiful. Fans of Vandermark, Gustafsson, Haker Flaten and Nilssen-Love are sure to gravitate to the trio’s new album, Bird Dies (Clean Feed). This one piece live recording follows up where their debut, IN (Monotype Records; 2010), left off–a full frontal attack of chords against the borders of a genre.

There’s no build up here. The Ames Room make their statement known from the first note. They come out of the gates ripping forward like Gustafsson’s The Thing in mid-performance. The staccato drums, breakneck sax and suffocating basslines that dominate the first 15 minutes of the piece are impressive for the duration as well as the stellar delivery.

The gears shift only slightly around the 23min mark. Guionnet’s takes the lead but is challenged perfectly by Guthrie’s cascading patterns. Meanwhile Thomas paints a small rhythm in the background. There are moments just after the half hour mark that remind of Ornette Coleman’s Change Of The Century. A calm descends on the closing ten minutes only to be resurrected to the opening salvo of white noise which cuts deep then comes full-stop.

The audience at this performance was probably left in awe. You can only briefly feel it from low volume mic on the audience. But make no mistake The Ames Trio is building a following and will leave an indelible mark on your senses. Bird Dies is challenging music but isn’t that what music is all about?

Le Son du Grisli review by Guillaume Belhomme

The Ames Room – Bird Dies (CF 231)
Après s’être souvenu sur In de concerts donnés à Niort et à Poznan, The Ames Room voit publiée sur Clean Feed une équation singulière : The Ames Room in Lille = Bird Dies. L’enregistrement date du 10 mars 2010 et renferme une pièce unique. Elle est, il va presque sans dire, recommandable à plus d’un titre.   Sur Bird Dies donc, l’association Guionnet / Thomas / Guthrie enfonce le clou à coups de bec, d’archet et de baguette : d’une pratique musicale wisigothe, d’une épreuve d’endurance et d’intensité, d’une scansion répétitive qui trouve son salut dans l’accident, d’un jeu de dupes enfin auquel se livre, bonhomme, la réunion de trois boutefeux.   D’abord, l’alto de Guionnet bute : ses partenaires filtrent ses premiers motifs (frappes joueuses de Guthrie) ou les lui renvoient au visage (claques assénées par Thomas sur contrebasse-catapulte). Là, Guionnet esquive et, obstiné, décide d’un autre plan : comme en un jeu de briques il fait tourner ses phrases courtes de degré en degré jusqu’à ce qu’elles s’imbriquent dans le mur épais que le trio élève. Qui impressionne, une fois terminé, à en croire le nombre d’oiseaux inertes retrouvés à son pied.

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

The Ames Room – Bird Dies (CF 231)
“The Ames Room is French altoist Jean-Luc Guionnet with Austrialians Clayton Thomas on bass and Will Guthrie on drums. This album is without a doubt one of the most intense you will hear, with Guionnet setting up the pace and sound from the start and then not letting go at all, despite the numerous variations within the very strict boundaries in which their cry of freedom erupts. This album is indeed one long shout, all in the same spirit : voluminous, expansive, full of drive and energy, relentless and raw, with a take-no-prisoners approach. The accompanying press kit speaks of “terror jazz”, and the descriptor is not too far fetched.”

This is how I described the band’s album “In” released last year. I cannot add much more for this album : it is as ferocious, energetic and relentless, even further pushed to the limit because the album contains one single fourty-eight minute track, as recorded live in Lille, France in March 2010. Both Thomas and Guthrie have the approach of a rock band, bringing them closer to The Thing than to Brötzmann, while Guionnet keeps on hitting the same mid-range sonic attack with a limited choice of notes, no lyricism to speak of, but all repetitive assault of the senses, hypnotic, mad, as if something’s got to give way, like an endless cry …

For those of you who like to spice up their meals with dynamite, don’t hesitate to buy this one.

Tileskopio review by Nicolas Malevitsis

The Ames Room – Bird Dies (CF 231)
οι ames room είναι ένα τρίο που λατρεύω. τρίο που απαρτίζεται απο τους clayton thomas κοντραμπάσσο, jean luc guionnet άλτο σαξόφωνο και will guthrie ντραμς. κλασσικό τζάζ / φρη τζαζ τρίο κυριολεκτικά. η πρώτη τους κυκλοφορία το περσινό in στη monotype ήταν (και παραμένει) δίσκος που με είχε ξετρελλάνει όχι μόνο για τη μουσική του αλλά και για την αισθητική του μια που μου έβγαζε μια ολοκληρωμένη αισθητική του τρίο αλλά και ένα αίσθημα που μου θύμιζε 70ς τζαζ όπως περίπου και ο ήχος τους.

εύλογα θα πεί κάποιος, καλά μεγάλε δεν ακούμε καλύτερα αντίστοιχα 70ς σύνολα παρά αυτούς; η πλάκα με τους ames room είναι ότι μπορεί απο τη μία μεριά να μου βγάζουν αυτό το συναίσθημα απο την άλλη ο ήχος τους είναι κυριολεκτικά ‘σημερινός’ (θα μπορούσα να τον πώ ‘φρέσκο’) γιατί είναι τρείς μουσικοί που χάρι στην πορεία τους στη μουσική βγάζουν ότι καλύτερο έχουν να δώσουν απο τον εαυτό τους σε αυτό το τρίο. αυτό γίνεται και στο bird dies, τελευταία ηχογράφηση τους απο περιοδεία δύο εβδομάδων στο κορύφωμα της οποίας το τρίο βγάζει τον πιο δεμένο και δημιουργικό εαυτό του με μια μουσική που σε παρασέρνει με τις προοπτικές της και την ευθύτητα της. περισσότερο free απο το in και πιο ‘στη μάπα σου’ παίξιμο που μ’ έχει κάνει απο χθές που ρθε να τον έχω ακούσει ήδη τρείς φορές. απίστευτο τρίο, απίστευτη δυναμική, απο τα γκρούπ που θα γούσταρα να δώ ζωντανά (πόσο μάλλον να εκδώσω…). για όσους ψάχνουν πραγματικά ’ελεύθερη’ μουσική…