Tag Archives: Tom Blancarte

Cuadernos de Jazz review by Jesús Gonzalo

Peter Evans Quartet – LIVE IN LISBON (CF 173)
En una esclarecedora entrevista a Peter Evans en Cuadernos de Jazz, vertía el trompetista inclinaciones formales sobre su estilo que parecían fruto del instante. Es cierto que, entre nombres del pre be-bop y la corriente del free jazz como expresión de sonido, su trompeta transforma las tonalidades en sonoridades, la melodía en apremiante intensidad y el fraseo toma un rumbo tan incierto como sesuda es su construcción. Salvada la fisonomía animada del MOPDTK sobre modelos históricos, tomando temas como All The Things You Are, Lush life/Sound of Love y What Is This Called Love para renombrarlos antes que versionarlos (All, Palimpest, What), Evans muestra en este directo una gran solidez de criterio por su congruencia armónica: primero desde la composición creando puentes a modo de interludios entre ellos y segundo planteado una exposición vibrante y acaudalada pero menos abierta o explosiva que en otros contextos. El voraz y percusivo pianismo de Ricardo Gallo, aparato de andamios atonales que crea una pulsión acuciante, pedal de sostén que imprime volumen, le ayuda en la construcción de texturas con la respuesta en potencia y nervio que corresponde a bajo y batería, ésta aun contundente más austera que en MOPDTK. Pasando de Ellington a Mingus y de Cole Porter a la ICP Ochestra (For ICP), esta grabación nos sitúa en el epicentro de su solvencia jazzística.

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El Intruso review by Sergio Piccirilli

Todo acto de creación es, ante todo, un acto de destrucción (Pablo Picasso)

Mostly Other People do the Killing: The Coimbra Concert (CF 214)
El ejercicio del pensamiento creativo demanda el desarrollo de acciones sistémicas que se ejecutan en forma deliberada con el objetivo de generar enfoques novedosos. Esa tendencia a la innovación no implica desprenderse de la tradición ni es una renuncia indeclinable al pasado, ya que la mentalidad creativa también requiere la aplicación de formas de pensamiento analógico que nos permitan apropiarnos de la historia y la experiencia, para luego extrapolarla a nuestro propio destino. El pensamiento creativo jamás hace base en la reverencia al pasado; pero aprende y se nutre de él para poder construir y desarrollar ideas que, además de su implícito carácter innovador, sean lo suficientemente representativas del contexto en que fueron concebidas.

En su relación con el arte, tanto el apotegma de Picasso como los conceptos enunciados en el párrafo anterior nos permiten inferir que la elaboración del pensamiento creativo siempre implica destruir aquello que nos ata a la forma convencional de pensar. Al otro extremo de esta concepción podemos hallar al purismo, movimiento que se atribuye la intención de conservar o recuperar la pureza estética y cultural existente en épocas pasadas. Prueba de ello es que, al menos de acuerdo a su acepción más habitual, un purista es aquél que “defiende el mantenimiento de una doctrina, práctica o costumbre en toda su pureza y sin admitir cambios ni concesiones”. Ergo, alguien que suscriba al purismo no podría desarrollar formas de pensamiento creativo ni estaría facultado para ejercer el carácter “destructivo” que, según Picasso, implica todo acto de creación. 

En analogía con lo que sucede en la escena jazzística del nuevo milenio, podríamos llegar a afirmar sin temor a equivocarnos que Mostly Other People do the Killing es un auténtico arquetipo del pensamiento creativo en acción. El alegato estético de esta banda liderada por el contrabajista y compositor Moppa Elliott evidencia un cabal conocimiento de la genealogía del jazz, una profunda comprensión de sus diferentes períodos históricos y un acabado entendimiento de sus tradiciones más sobresalientes; pero que, en lugar de someterse a las ataduras dogmáticas del purismo, subordinarse al pasado o venerar los arcaísmos, se manifiesta permeable a las influencias musicales y culturales que integran el complejo entramado estético del siglo XXI. Esto les ha permitido elaborar una revolucionaria propuesta que, usando el vocabulario del jazz, se nutre del hard-bop, el free, el bebop, la libre improvisación y el blues sin tener por ello que negar la existencia de otras corrientes tan disímiles entre sí como el pop, la música clásica, el hip-hop, el heavy metal, el funk o la world music. 

Mostly Other People do the Killing amalgama un discurso emancipador que en su combinación de tradición y modernidad, virtuosismo y frescura, academicismo e ironía, termina por desacralizar la historia del jazz y socava las bases culturales que promueven la inmovilidad del pensamiento creativo o que impulsan la supuesta inalterabilidad de los axiomas que sostienen al purismo del arte.

En el campo de la estética no existe la unanimidad, por ello resulta probable que a algunos la explosión de virtuosismo implícita en MOPDTK los abrume y que otros puedan asociar su humor sarcástico con falta de profundidad conceptual. No obstante, a nadie le sorprendería saber que sus principales detractores se esconden en las imaginarias trincheras del purismo jazzístico. No creo que sea necesario refutar a quienes difaman a la banda; pero estimo oportuno acometer sobre lo que a mi entender es la flagrante contradicción existente entre los términos “purismo” y “jazz”. 

Nunca he podido dejar de asociar la idea de pureza con la castidad y el celibato… Quizás por ello, mucho de la música que suscribe al denominado “purismo del jazz” me suena “anorgásmica” o producida por gente con falta (leve, parcial o total) de actividad sexual. También debe considerarse que la palabra jazz deriva de jass, vocablo que en el argot afroamericano de principios de siglo XX se utilizaba para hacer referencia al acto sexual. En definitiva, y siguiendo esta línea de razonamiento, podríamos concluir que el purismo del jazz es algo así como tener relaciones sin sexo y que Mostly Other People do The Killing es, en más de un sentido, “puro jass”. 

La producción discográfica de la banda (hasta aquí íntegramente compuesta por grabaciones en estudio y que incluye los álbumes Mostly Other People do the Killing de 2005, Shamokin!!! en 2007, This is Our Moosic de 2008 y Forty Fort en 2010) da testimonio de las infrecuentes cualidades que la distinguen. Sin embargo, en más de una ocasión se ha dicho que el verdadero potencial de MOPDTK se magnifica y agiganta durante sus representaciones escénicas, parecer que quedara debidamente comprobado con el álbum doble en vivo The Coimbra Concert de 2011.

El arte de la cubierta de esta nueva entrega (la primera que hacen bajo el ala del sello portugués Clean Feed, ya que las anteriores correspondieron a Hot Cup Records) continúa la línea burlona e irreverente de sus dos últimas ediciones. Mientras This is Our Moosic parodiaba el título y el arte del disco de Ornette Coleman This is Our Music de 1960 y la foto incluida en la tapa de Forty Fort era una pantomima del álbum de Roy Haynes de 1962 Out of this Afternoon, aquí la bufonada recae sobre las espaldas del bueno de Keith Jarrett y su histórico solo piano The Koln Concert de 1975. 

Un arrollador e irresistible despliegue percusivo a cargo de Kevin Shea (que admite claras influencias de Animal, el baterista de Los Muppets) nos sumerge en el impiadoso ensamble a ritmo de boogaloo de Drainlick, tema que abre el álbum This is Our Moosic de 2008. La banda, como es habitual, suena con una fuerza y vigor contagiosos pero a eso debe añadirse la lectura de alto voltaje que capta una representación en vivo. La música despega, vuela, se fractura, regresa a la partitura, muta al blues, pasa al hot-jazz más rancio, exhibe apabullantes soliloquios instrumentales a cargo de Jon Irabagon y Peter Evans provocando risas y admiración por partes iguales. De pronto, sin que nadie nos avise, el tema se transforma (aunque no figure en los créditos) en una espasmódica recreación de Shamokin del álbum del mismo nombre. No diré que ambas versiones superan a los originales y no lo haré por una buena razón: todas las versiones incluidas en The Coimbra Concert superan a los originales.

La chispeante Evans City del álbum Shamokin!!! confirma la pericia instrumental de la banda y acentúa sus aspectos más lúdicos a través de giros dinámicos imprevistos, uso de tonalidades imposibles y permanentes juegos de complicidad. Está más que claro que la base estructural de las composiciones de Moppa Elliott son deliberadamente simples, no sólo para contar con un material maleable que permita sus abrasivos flujos de improvisación, sino también como un esfuerzo conceptual por expresar un arte viable que reconozca la superficialidad estética del siglo XXI. En definitiva y si me apuran un poco, diría que estoy casi convencido que MOPDTK es una de las mejores bandas de “canciones infantiles para adultos” que he escuchado en mi vida. 

Los desopilantes ornamentos que visten la línea melódica de Round Bottom, Square Top del álbum Forty Fort propician una descomunal intervención solista de la trompeta de Peter Evans en la que asoman frases de Another Brick in the Wall de Pink Floyd y un furioso soliloquio de Jon Irabagon en saxo tenor del que emerge con naturalidad una versión abreviada de Fagundus, pieza en origen incluida en This is Our Moosic.

El cierre del primer disco llega con una maratónica revisión de Blue Ball del álbum Forty Fort. Una mixtura de bebop, bossa nova e improvisación microtonal que involucra inesperadas referencias a la Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass y al hit-single de Sheena Easton Strut que, tras un titánico solo en sopranino de Jon Irabagon, se desvanece en las sutilezas técnicas que dibuja la trompeta de Peter Evans. 

El segundo disco nos recibe con la alocada y deforme confluencia de blues, jazz, funky, boogaloo y música disco que exhibe Pen Argyl del álbum Forty Fort.  Burning Well es una mutación musical alienígena que arranca como una especie de free antillano… que luego se transforma en la colección de clichés de jazz fusión contenidos en Rough and Ready del álbum Forty Fort… que durante el solo de Jon Irabagon se convierte en Birdland de Weather Report… que en los fraseos de la trompeta de Peter Evans transmuta en el clásico de George Gershwin de 1938 Our Love is Here y que, al final (porque hay un final,¿ eh?), se corona en una coda circense. En el cierre llegan Factoryville (pieza del álbum Shamokin!!! dividida en tres segmentos de improvisación conectados temáticamente a través del blues), una versión experimental de St. Mary’s Proctor de Forty Fort y los ágiles pulsos contenidos en Elliott Mills de su álbum debut. 

MOPTDK, en The Coimbra Concert, además de ratificar su arrolladora personalidad escénica nos hace recuperar la facultad de escuchar jazz como si fuese la primera vez. 

El final de toda exploración es llegar al lugar en donde empezamos y poder verlo como si fuera la primera vez (T.S. Elliot)
http://elintruso.com/2011/03/04/mostly-other-people-do-the-killing-the-coimbra-concert/

Pop Matters feature on Clean Feed by Will Layman

Clean Feed Records and Mary Halvorson: Promises of Good Things to Come in Jazz

If you’re looking ahead in 2011 at what the year—or the coming decade—holds in jazz, then 2010 gave us two stories that portend thrilling music ahead.

First, there is a relatively new record label that seems dead-set on unleashing the full-on floodgates of adventurous improvised music at every turn.  Clean Feed, based in Lisbon and founded in 2001, has become nothing less than a force of nature, releasing exciting music in big, fat batches.  Snaring big name artists, yup, and also promoting the little guy, Clean Feed is supernatural.  Clean Feed is my hero.

Among the artists showing up on Clean Feed in 2010 (and elsewhere too, importantly) was guitarist Mary Halvorson.  Halvorson is the furthest thing from another Berklee-trained pentatonic wonder.  She’s all edge and all charm at the same time, someone whose pedigree includes Wesleyan University and Anthony Braxton bands, but also a gentle duo or two.  And in 2010 she released what may have been the most surprising—and promising—disc of the year.

Two trends to watch, right here.

Trend One: Clean Feed Can’t Be Ignored
When your regular, everyday jazz critic comes home from a day of doing whatever he does to make some scratch for rent and food and the occasional new pair of Pumas, he finds a package leaning against his door.  If it’s a skinny package, then it might be a new recording from Blue Note or Sunnyside—a good day, for sure.  But if it’s a big thick package jammed with seven or eight new releases at once, baby, it’s from Clean Feed.

He tears the manila envelope open and finds beautiful art adorning thin cardboard CD packages, and beyond that nothing is predictable. He might not know Matt Bauder (an adventurous reed player), but he sure does know James Carney and Stephan Crump.  Unfamiliar with James Robinson?  But he’s playing with the pianist Anthony Davis, one of his favorites.  The Convergence Quartet is new to him, but—Holy CRAP!—look at the band Tony Malaby has put together on Tamarindo Live.

He’s tired, so he’s excused if he doesn’t get around to putting on any of these many discs right away.  But he’s just got to hear them.  What is the deal with Clean Feed records anyway?

Clean Feed’s website is modest and slightly out-of-date.  Who has time to update the “About Us” page when you are putting out almost 50 recordings in 2010 by bands from all over the world, recordings that span styles and sounds with flying abandon?  Here’s some of what the label says about itself:

“Clean Feed was founded in 2001 to release Portuguese and foreign musicians in separate and cooperative projects.  The label was also created facing the whole world as its operating ground, taking advantage of the Internet revolution and the increasing global music market.  Very quickly, Clean Feed found itself at the vortex of the international creative jazz scene, releasing projects that reached far beyond what we could initially imagine…  Clean Feed aims at recording innovative contemporary jazz projects that can make a difference, building a catalogue that will be internationally recognized by its quality and coherence.”

The judgment is George W. Bush-isms simple: Mission Accomplished.

It would be impossible fully to do justice to the work of Clean Feed in 2010 in a single column, but here is a limited snapshot of some (and way too few) of my favorites.

Clean Feed Gives Musicians Room
Take the Crump/Carney duet album, Echo Run Pry.  Like some classic jazz LP from the ‘70s, this recording consists of just two tracks, 20-plus minute free improvisations that unspool gradually and beautifully.  (The model for Crump and Carney may have been the 1976 recordings on Improvising Artists by Sam Rivers and Dave Holland.)  These duets are free and sometimes dissonant, but they are clear and melodic too—patient and surprising and uncommonly gorgeous.  Carney is reaching into his instrument to pluck or mute strings, turning the piano into something exciting but not snarling, and Crump is rich in tone and every bit the piano’s equal.  Grooving, swinging, free, mind-blowing.

Clean Feed Let’s Stars Play Around 
For a small label, Clean Feed sure is hauling in some big jazz names.  Maybe not the Diana Kralls or Wynton Marsalises, but few jazz players have risen faster in the last few years than alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa.  But here he is recording for Clean Feed along with another big name—Steve Lehman.  The two alto players share a sound and sensibility, of course: a jagged but precise kind of linear blowing that transcends “inside” and “outside” clichés and thrives on new kinds or arrangements, complex patterning, and acid-toned energy. 

So Dual Identity, which pairs the two in a quintet with Liberty Ellman’s guitar, Matt Brewer on bass, and Damion Reid on drums, is both a jazz event and a bit of an indulgence.  The two leaders snake around each other on nervous fast tunes and obtuse ballads, sounding quite similar in some ways, working out like kindred spirits who need to push each other hard.  Ellman gets to play plenty of beautiful textures, but he also moves in tandem with Brewer to create grooves.  This wasn’t my favorite disc of the year, but it has a thrilling all-star quality to it, like watching Lebron James and Dwayne Wade finally play on the same team.  Like the Miami Heat, it mostly works.

Clean Feeds Give Us New Names, Old Names
Some musicians hide from the public.  They disappear and teach.  Or they play locally and never quite get on your radar.  Or they play outside the center of one style somehow.  For me, one of the “lost” jazz masters of the ‘70s and ‘80s is pianist Anthony Davis.  Davis made a series of recordings for India Navigation featuring flutist James Newton, trombonist George Lewis, vibist Jay Hoggard, and others that defied category in delicious ways. 

Then, quite deliberately, Davis—trained classically at Yale—started composing music that was not jazz in any meaningful way, including pieces for his ensemble Epistome and eventually opera as well (X about the life of Malcolm X).  Once in a blue moon he would appear playing jazz, each time seeming like a long lost, but favorite, uncle.  Cerulean Landscape pairs Davis with saxophonist and flutist James Robinson, now a professor at Amherst (and a former student of Davis’s at UC San Diego).  It’s a lush and expansive set of seven tunes by both men, reflecting influences from Ellington to Cecil Taylor to classical and folk music.  It gives you the sense that original, thrilling music is awaiting you beyond the clubs and concert halls.  Anthony Davis is still here, pulsing with life, and musicians you’d never heard of are pulsing right along with him.

Clean Feed Encourages Surprising Collaboration
In real life, there are working bands, sure, real bands that stay together for years and develop on records over time, scrutinized by fans.  But in jazz there are even more bands that come together for one night or one tour, one project, create some magic then split.  Those special occasions too often miss the ears of even the ardent fan.  But Clean Feed is giving many of these assemblages a chance for immortality.  How about this band:  Tony Malaby on tenor, Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet, New York bassist extraordinaire William Parker, and Bandwagon drummer Nasheet Waits.  Tamarindo Live catches them live at the Jazz Gallery from June 2010, playing free and fantastic.  Malaby sounds unleashed on soprano sax, buzzing and twirling, Smith is clarion at times and always a rhythmic marvel, and the rhythm section feels like a trampoline: pliant and yet firm.  You missed this gig because you weren’t in town that day?  Clean Feed brings it to your door.

Clean Feed Crosses Oceans, Easily
Based in Lisbon, Clean Feed isn’t hung up on nationality, race, location, culture.  In the Clean Feed playground of improvised music, the monkey bars are open to all.  A good example is Pool School from the Tom Rainey Trio.  Rainey is a delicious drummer who I associate with the aggressive and wide-open playing of Tim Berne, but who has the skill and sensibility to play just about anything, funk to free and back again.  This trio brings in US guitarist Mary Halvorson and saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, born in Germany but based in London.  And while this is certainly “free jazz”—in that Laubrock plays with little regard for standard harmony or tonality, Halvorson plays textures as much as she does chords, and Rainey is constantly fracturing any steady sense of swing or straight time—the tunes are brief (mostly four-five minutes) and concise, with each player committing to a framework and not just going on-and-on-forever-already.  While they sound freely improvised, the clarity of each track suggests a magical guiding hand.  If only all jazz, free or otherwise, played by musicians from around the globe had this focus.

In 2011, Clean Feed already has five releases, including a live date from Mostly Other People Do the Killing (with a hilarious cover parodying The Koln Concert).  Are you drooling a little bit?  You should be.

Trend Two: Mary Halvorson Is Coming For You
The Tom Rainey Trio disc on Clean Feed features the guitarist Mary Halvorson, and in 2010 she is the other emerging story.  Halvorson has been playing in New York since 2002, after studies at Wesleyan and The New School.  But the chance that you would mistake her for, say, Pat Metheny or John Scofield is zero percent.  Halvorson’s style is fragmented and cuts utterly loose from conventional jazz patterns.  And while she plays a huge hollow-body Guild guitar with a fairly clean sound, she is quick to bend her notes, frazzle her lines, leap and crackle, pluck and pull and strike her strings against convention.

But here’s the thing:  for all the veering away from conventional melodic form, you can’t stop listening.  Halvorson captivates.  And I’m not sure you’ll be able to figure out why.  For all her lack convention—indeed, her self-described “weird”ness—she is extraordinarily musical.

Though Halvorson leads several bands and plays regularly in (and records regularly with) a dozen others, the news in 2010 was her first recording with The Mary Halvorson Quintet, Saturn Sings.  This disc is special in Halvorson’s catalog because it gives fuller expression to her fascinating compositions.

“Miles High Like (No. 16)” is underpinned by typical Halvorson guitar work: stabbing patterns, oddly timed jabs and scratches, droning repetitions.  But riding atop this is a coolly harmonized set of keening melodies played by Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet and Jon Irabagon on alto sax.  As Finlayson solos, Halvorson grows more and more agitated beneath him, bending her chords, scratching at the strings, then finally playing what amount to mad rock chords.  This music is weird, sure, but with Finlayson it’s also deeply melodic and rollicking fun.

“Sea Seizure (No. 19)” is just for the trio, and it actually just rocks.  Halvorson starts by a playing a single distorted note in a hammer of repetitions while drummer Ches Smith provides solid backbeat, then they both shift into a syncopated groove beneath an oddball arpeggio.  When Halvorson improvises, then, there is no chord pattern to follow but just a rhythmic blueprint that could go almost anywhere.  And as with all of Halvorson’s music, things do go anywhere and everywhere.  Could she play a straight bebop line if she wanted to?  That certainly is not in the DNA of her style, but who really cares?  She plays with plenty of precision when she wants to, and this band proves that repeatedly as bassist John Hebert or the horns lock in with her notes.

Saturn Sings proves that the idiosyncratic shapes of Halvorson’s melodies are not merely the sounds of someone freaking out on the guitar.  Her odd melodic forms can sound vaguely random (if thrilling) on the trio tunes, but the cascades and marches, Blakeyisms and singsong ballads that she composes for the horns become wonderfully balanced counterpoints to her guitar.  In fact, as “avant-garde” as Halvorson’s basic aesthetic may be, a tune like “Crack in Sky (No. 11)” is flat-out lovely.  Irabagon’s alto solo lilts and dances, and the guitar accompaniment comes close to sensitive comping while still retaining certain trademarked bends and flutters.  Amen, Mary!

The reason Mary Halvorson is giving jazz a nice little thrill about now goes beyond the quality of the music.  Partly it’s that she is different.  Not insignificantly, she is a woman in an art form that—despite how little we write and talk about it—is weighted madly toward men.  She’s not a singer or a pianist but a guitarist with a caustic sound.  That is very different.  And her sound does not come from and then deviate from jazz’s mainstream of bop and post-bop orthodoxy.  Halvorson’s art begins with an assumption of huge freedom, so it doesn’t become “free” by violating the norms she learned in music school.  This second generation liberty, in not being a reaction against anything, feels utterly sincere and balanced.  It’s the closest thing in jazz guitar playing to the piano styles of Matthew Shipp, Vijay Iyer, and Jason Moran that have been the other main story of the last five years in jazz.

Mary Halvorson smiles.  Her music sounds like a fresh, brisk rain shower.  She works noise and charm into the same track with ease.  She plays with anyone and everyone who needs a new sound on guitar.  And—of course—you can find her on Clean Feed releases.  The promise of 2011 in jazz is bright.
http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/136606-two-2010-stories-to-remember-in-2011/

All About Jazz-New York review by Stuart Broomer

Peter Evans may be best known as the virtuosic trumpeter of Mostly Other People Do The Killing, bassist Moppa Elliot’s simultaneous tribute to and
deconstruction of jazz traditions. Meanwhile, though, Evans has other dimensions, both as a free improviser and as a bandleader. Each aspect is emphasized in one of the contrasting bands heard here.

Parker / Guy / Lytton + Peter Evans – Scenes in the House of Music (CF 196)
Since the early ‘80s, the trio of saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist Barry Guy and drummer Paul Lytton has developed a profound level of interaction,
virtually redefining both the rate of musical information exchanged and the expressive potential of free jazz. Through the years, the group has welcomed a few distinguished guests, including George Lewis and Marilyn Crispell; for Scenes in the House of Music, Evans joins for a concert in the Casa da Musica, a gem-like concert hall in the Northern Portugal city of Porto. It’s tribute to the trumpeter’s intrepid creativity that he fits so well with the group, matching the sonic exploration of his solo performances to the rapid-fire shifts – in texture and in the alternately fragmentary and tumultuous rhythmic language – that in part define the Parker Trio. Each of the five improvised episodes is around 13 minutes long, identified by just “Scene” and number, and develops a shape of its own, often contrasting solos and duets with intense group dialogues. The interplay of the two horns is remarkable. At times Evans’ singular blasts and flurries can recall Don Cherry’s role as foil to some of the great tenor saxophonists of the ‘60s while at other moments he and Parker match one another’s timbres in a way that’s uncanny.

Peter Evans Quartet – live in Lisbon (CF 173)
Evans’ own band conception, as heard with his quartet at Lisbon’s Jazz em Agosto festival in 2009, is a radical mashup that layers the chord changes of standards like “All the Things You Are” and “What Is this Thing Called Love” with atonal and free elements, at times creating dense stacks of contradictory structures. These are sometimes employed freely by the band while at other times diverse parts will suddenly reassemble on a beat. Just as Anthony Braxton has in the past, Evans seems to reinvent the jazz crisis of the early ‘60s when chord changes were literally breaking up before one’s ears. If the most technically-gifted trumpeters of that era had a reluctant relationship with free jazz, it’s a joy to hear in Evans a trumpeter with the brash virtuosity of Lee Morgan or Freddie Hubbard who has embraced a radical freedom. His quartet here – pianist Ricardo Gallo, bassist Tom Blancarte and drummer Kevin Shea – tears into the special challenges of this music with rare aplomb. While descriptions of Evans’ hybrid music can suggest a bizarre stunt, it’s much more than that. It’s often genuinely beautiful, at times in a traditional way and also moving, in a way that seems quite new. While these bands are very different in their forms and textures, both CDs are among the most accomplished releases of 2010.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

Peter Evans: un trompetista versátil
Hace mucho que en la escena del jazz no irrumpía un trompetista como Peter Evans. Sumamente versátil y fino estilista, tiene ya un bagaje más que notable. Integrante de los Mostly Other People Do The Killing, es también reclamado por primeras figuras de la libre improvisación. Evan Parker lo ha reclutado para su Electro Acoustic Ensemble y también le ha publicado un par de discos a trompeta sola (con lo que implica de apuesta personal por su música), en su sello Psi.

Peter Evans Quartet – Live in Lisbon (CF 173)
Entre la última hornada de grabaciones publicadas en Clean Feed, Peter Evans aparece en dos. Live In Lisbon recoge su participación en el festival Jazz Em Agosto de 2009 liderando el Peter Evans Quartet. Evans es el autor de todas las composiciones, muy buenas, y lidera un grupo que funciona magníficamente (con Kevin Shea, batería de los Mostly…, el pianista Ricardo Gallo y el contrabajista Tom Blancarte). Sin embargo ni lo uno ni los otros son lo más importante. Lo más destacable de la grabación es el magnífico nivel y la gran versatilidad que Evans demuestra (una vez más) con la trompeta, en esta ocasión con un jazz contemporáneo en el que hay unos cuantos hallazgos en forma de composiciones.

Parker / Guy / Lytton + Peter Evans – Scenes in the House of Music (CF 196)
Scenes In The House Of Music es radicalmente distinto. El trío formado por Evan Parker, Barry Guy y Paul Lytton es una de las formaciones más veteranas dentro de la libre improvisación europea. Este trío invitó a Peter Evans a participar en una de sus sesiones de libre improvisación en directo y el trompetista respondió a la perfección. No sólo funcionó en un rol al mismo nivel que sus tres compañeros como instrumentista, sino que se erigió en el líder del cuarteto en más de un momento. Tal y como sucede en las grabaciones de este grupo la música se va repartiendo en distintas fomaciones encontrando momentos para los solos (con Evan Parker y sus respiraciones circulares, o con Barry Guy y su forma de aplicarse sobre el contrabajo), los dúos, tríos y también para el cuarteto (obviamente). Los años de experiencia del trío provocan que su trabajo, que funciona sin fisuras, aparezca aún más sólidamente cementado gracias a la participación de su invitado.
http://bun.tomajazz.com/2010/11/peter-evans-un-trompetista-versatil.html

So Jazz review by Thierry Lepin

The Jazz Mann review by Tim Owen

Peter Evans Quartet – Live In Lisbon (CF 173)
Rating: 4,5 out of 5
“The pleasure of listening to this thrilling concert derives equally from the vibrancy of the material and the zestful drive and immediacy of the group interaction.”

Evans is well matched with the others in his quartet. A previous incarnation substituted guitarist Brandon Seabrook for Ricardo Gallo’s piano, which dramatically alters the configuration. Gallo is a Colombian composer and pianist who formerly led his own quartet out of Bogotá. His piano playing, which can be characterised by great delicacy, is frequently animated on this outing by a ferociously hard-hitting tonal fullness and clarion precision. The lucidity with which his touch imbues the melodic aspects of Evan’s themes mitigates some of the complexity of the compositions (of which more later). Tom Blancarte, unlike Gallo, is a regular partner of Evans’, with the two men recording as a duet under the name Sparks. Here, Blancarte’s double bass pulses from a stereo’s woofers with vividness and woody resonance. Kevin Shea, on drums, is quite restrained in contrast to his more usually eruptive, wild-card anarchy, as in his performances with MOPDTK or, more particularly, his own Talibam!. He works hard to make a primarily (though by no means solely) supporting role fresh and unpredictable. A marvellous bass/drums tussle in “Interlude 3” shows this fabulous ‘rhythm section’ at their inventive best.

As for that compositional complexity: Evans –  in his very worthwhile notes that accompany the CD version of the album – describes his own compositions as “puzzle-like”, and explains that central to his conception is “the continual adaptation and metamorphosis of found materials derived from earlier songs and song forms”. The original composition “All”, for example, references Jerome Kern’s “All The Things You Are”. It is based on Kern’s chord structure, but “any of the tempos referenced in the notation can be maintained by any number of the ensemble members together or separately since they all fit over a basic pulse”. I’m comfortably familiar with Kern’s song in diverse interpretations, and Evans has rendered it as something radically new. It’s only in his respectful nods to the original melody that the debt is overtly heard. Likewise, Evans’ “What” takes Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love” and reconstitutes it in ways so inventive that the resultant music is essentially Evans’ own. Evans describes the ways in which the notation permits “components of [the] piece [to] be put on top of each other in various ways without disturbing the general form: a bass line that can double with the trumpet line as the melody, and later, a melody (in the piano and trumpet) of long tones that rests on top of the first line”. “Palimpsest” similarly transcends its roots in the music of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and Charles Mingus’ “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love”, which are explored with a loving appreciation of the beauty that permeates the original compositions. Mingus would surely have approved.

While the originality of his musicianship has frequently been noted elsewhere, I think it’s worth quoting from Evans’ notes in order to reflect the time and intellectual effort that Evans has evidently invested in the evolution of his compositional skills. It’s not necessary to dwell on these details, however, when listening to the results. Although his notes undoubtedly add an extra level of appreciation, what brings the session so vividly and thrillingly to life are Evans’ leadership and the improvisational and interpretive skills of the quartet. The pleasure of listening to this thrilling concert derives equally from the vibrancy of the material and the zestful drive and immediacy of the group interaction.
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/live-in-lisbon/