Tag Archives: Wires & Moss

JazzWord review by Ken Waxman

CF 259Angelica Sanchez Quintet – Wires and Moss (CF 259)
Nick Fraser – Towns and Villages (Barnyard Records)
Arriving in New York from his native Tucson in 1995, Tony Malaby has since made his distinctive tenor and soprano saxophone tones part of that city’s scene, both with his own bands and as a sideman – most notably with bassist Mark Helias’ trio. His high- quality improvisations are featured on both these CDs, although he does have much closer ties to one leader than the other.

That’s because pianist Angelica Sanchez, who also composed Wires and Moss’s half-dozen tracks, is Malaby’s spouse, as well as being a respected jazzer in her own right. Another session reflecting her unique vision, the disc unites the two with a top rhythm section of bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey plus French guitarist Marc Ducret. A responsive time-keeper who composed all the titles on his CD, Toronto-based drummer Nick Fraser calls on Malaby’s skills more platonically on Canadian Towns and Villages. The distinctiveness of this CD comes from the juxtaposition of his and the saxman’s instruments with those played by two other Toronto-based musicians. The distinctive timbres of Andrew Downing’s cello and Rob Clutton’s bass are both cleverly worked into the arrangements.

A member of the collective quintet Drumheller and the band Ugly Beauties with pianist Marilyn Lerner and cellist Matt Brubeck, the Ottawa-born drummer is so self-effacing that often it’s only clip-clops, bumps or patterns which characterize his accompaniment. Meanwhile a track such as “Albs” is built around a mellow interface that contrasts Malaby’s sweet-and-sour tenor vibrato with Downing’s rich bowed lines and timed thumps from Clutton. Even when the two string players advance contrapuntal whistles and creaks, as on the fully improvised “Sketch #10”, an innate lyricism is still present, with Fraser’s understated ratamacues softening Malaby’s thick sax slurs

In contrast the track that moves this quartet closest to Albert Ayler territory – he used similar instrumentation, but with trumpet as well – is the enigmatically titled “?”. Here Malaby’s pinched blowing and peeping is matched by the bassist’s string sawing and the cellist’s staccato creaks and crackles. While the drummer’s output is more dominant, it seems that his basic taste prevents the tune from blasting into the stratosphere.

Overall however the CD’s most distinctive number is “Sketch #12”, which sums up the fine musical line the quartet walks. The performance is neither completely straight-edged nor fully free form despite Malaby’s narrowed tremolo vibrato, disassociated slurs and reed bites. No matter, the backing stays resolutely linear. A thick walking bass line plus pops and clatters from the drummer sees to this. While there’s curiosity engendered with this clashing of sonic strategies, more excitement could have resulted if the four resolved the situation one way or the other.

Fewer tunes and more front line players distinguish the other session. Although the combo has been together for a half-dozen years, unlike the Fraser-Malaby one-off, a basic tension still exists. Malaby’s chesty moans and concentrated slurs plus Ducret’s ringing tone distortions pull the band in one direction, while Sanchez’s sympathetically and contrapuntally decorated expositions aim for an opposing game plan. With Dress and Rainey forcefully backing up the three, a disconnect between subtle and sinewy is often highlighted. Overall it’s mostly the guitarist who is the spark plug and whose playing is most disruptive to the measured narratives.

Since after all Sanchez composed all the tunes and is session leader, this effect is probably simpatico with her aims, even if it appears to conflict with her sympathetic chording and restrained keyboard dusting. Yet when Ducret’s buzzing, sliding licks on “Dare” give the impression that he`s daring the saxophonist to dispense with his previously lighter-than-air soprano lines and turn to pressurized lip vibrations is this part of Sanchez’s plans? Certainly while she has occasion to showcase a staccato interface with runs from both hands emerging for additional coloration, her main concern is melody building, with the atonal improvising left to others.

Only on the extended “Soaring Piasa” for example, when broken-octave counterpoint is advanced by Malaby’s human-sounding altissimo squeals and muscular Rainey drum ruffs, does the pianist seem intent on taking control of the rhythm section, harmonizing and integrating every other instrumental texture. Again does this pinpoint Sanchez’s collaborative skill or her instrumental shyness?

As it is the unanswered question suggests something is lacking on both sessions. Although each can be listening to with interest, the conciseness of Fraser’s performances plus the resolute linearity of Sanchez’s concepts work against a full loosening of structures and the creation of fully exhilarating dates. Perhaps next time…


Jazz News review by Jacques Denis


JazzWrap review by Stephan Moore

CF 259Angelica Sanchez – Wires & Moss (CF 259)
Everyone knows I tend to rave about Fred Hersch and Jason Moran as my favourite modern pianists. But there are others that are emerging with the same talent and vision as these two future legends. Kris Davis is definitely one of those that I put in the list. Recently I have also been listening another bright and inventive composer, Angelica Sanchez.

Sanchez, now with her forth album (third for Clean Feed), hopefully will find a wider audience. With Wires & Moss, she explores an ever growing lyrical and conceptual structure that is both calm and free flowing. “Loomed” is an expansive piece with various layers of expression, tightly pulled together by Ducret, Malaby and Rainey. Sanchez and Gress play the static calm palate to the trio’s frenetic brushes. But it’s always the leader who carries the tune’s soft undulating notes towards the close.

“Wires & Moss” is a stunning display of rolling melodies. Sanchez’s performance is filled with multiple chord changes and jagged directional cues for the rest of the quintet. Early on, Ducret shines with crafty Arto Lindsay meets Thurston Moore type qualities. The piece moves up, down and outward. The rest of the group approach midway through and it becomes more poetic with each movement. Gress and Sanchez take the band quietly out with some beautiful passages.

Motionless might be the feeling you get from the closing number, “Bushido.” This starts off gently but then moves roughly in staccato motion while consistently holding the listener in place. The entire quintet is scorching on this number and exemplifies Sanchez’s creative vision that she has worked on since setting out as a leader over a decade ago.

Angelica Sanchez writes with a very cerebral approach that puts her in a category of the previous mentioned artist from my point of view. If you haven’t experienced her music before–now is the time. Wires & Moss is absolutely brilliant and highly, highly recommended!

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

CF 259Angelica Sanchez Quintet – Wires & Moss (CF 259)
Angelica Sanchez is officially here to stay. She’s played and recorded with Wadada Leo Smith and others, she put out a very nice solo piano album a while back (type her name in the index box to read my review) and she now returns with a quintet on Wires & Moss (Clean Feed 259).   There’s a warmth to her freedom, compositionally and as a pianist, and it shows nicely on this disk. She’s gathered excellent all-star caliber players in Marc Ducret, guitar, Tony Malaby, tenor and soprano, Drew Gress on contrabass, and Tom Rainey, drums. And she’s put six of her compositions together for the occasion.   This is a band that can solo! And they do overtop the very hip-ly loose straight-eight free doings of the rhythm team.   The result is an extension of what she did/does with Wadada, free jazz-rock going considerably further in sophistication and complex running counterpoint than some of the heavier handed variety out there. Then Angelica will surprise you with some very advanced piano, lyrical and very creative, surprise you because it all fits together in her head but most leaders don’t mix it up quite like this. New music meets meta-groove? Well, yes.   It goes a long way forward, miles ahead ahead. And it’s very original too! Listen to this one a bunch of times and you will get there, in new territory.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

CF 259Angelica Sanchez – Wires & Moss (CF 259)
Se Life Between, o disco anterior do quinteto da pianista Angelica Sanchez, representava uma evolução em relação a Mirror Me, Wires & Moss vai mais longe, superando as oposições entre liberdade e estrutura, jazz e música de câmara, impulso rítmico e fragmentação, tranquilidade e desassossego. Veja-se o caso de “Bushido”, com o piano contemplativo e hierático a articular-se com a vigorosa agitação da guitarra, contrabaixo e bateria.

Embora as intrigantes composições sejam todas de Sanchez, o protagonismo é repartido com Tony Malaby (sax), Marc Ducret (guitarra), Drew Gress (contrabaixo) e Tom Rainey (bateria). Num CD que vale pelo primoroso trabalho de conjunto, vale a pena, ainda assim, destacar os electrizantes solos de Malaby e Ducret em “Loomed”.

Troy Collins’ Best Releases of 2012 – All About Jazz

Considering the quantity of recordings released in a year’s time, attempting to compile an end of the year list mentioning every first-rate session would be difficult at best. The ten titles included below are among the most exceptional new jazz albums I’ve heard in 2012.

Jason Robinson – Tiresian Symmetry (Cuneiform Records)
Multi-instrumentalist Jason Robinson’s second Cuneiform release is once again inspired by Greek mythology. Despite the esoteric foundations of Robinson’s sophisticated writing, his nonet’s spectacularly creative interpretations evoke a far broader contemporary influence, ranging from thorny AACM-inspired creative orchestra music to evocative pre-war Ellingtonia.

Living By Lanterns – New Myth/Old Science (Cuneiform Records)
Working from practice tapes culled from Sun Ra’s El Saturn Audio Archive, drummer Mike Reed conceived new arrangements for an expanded version of his Loose Assembly quintet. This impressive summit meeting between Chicago and New York’s finest young improvisers transcends mere repertory, creating strikingly original new music from another artist’s unfinished material.

Mary Halvorson Quintet – Bending Bridges (Firehouse 12 Records)
The widely celebrated 2010 premier of Mary Halvorson’s Quintet confirmed the young guitarist’s growing reputation with a selection of urbane compositions as impressive as her idiosyncratic improvisations. This date offers further proof of Halvorson’s talent as leader of an eclectic ensemble whose efforts are as challenging as they are appealing.

Fred Lonberg-Holm’s Fast Citizens – Gather (Delmark Records)
Chicago’s current generation of creative improvising musicians draws pertinent parallels to the AACM’s polystylistic innovations, best exemplified by the collective Fast Citizens. Vanguard cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm serves as leader for their third album, ushering the group into brave new worlds that encapsulate the entire spectrum of the Windy City’s storied jazz history.

Darius Jones Quartet – The Book of Mae’bul (AUM Fidelity)
The third release from alto saxophonist Darius Jones to document his extraordinary growth as a bandleader delves into rarefied territory. Other than a few spirited numbers, languorous mid-tempo ballad fare dominates the session, providing another view of Jones’ expansive artistry in a more traditionally lyrical quartet setting.

Ross Hammond Quartet – Adored (Prescott Recordings)
The debut of Sacramento-based guitarist Ross Hammond’s Quartet is among the most impressive in his growing discography. Leading a stellar quartet of respected veterans, Hammond strikes a considered balance between the accessible and the avant-garde, making this a perfect introduction to the work of an artist deserving greater recognition.

Michael Formanek – Small Places (ECM Records)
Michael Formanek’s follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2009 ECM debut as a leader seamlessly blends the composed and improvised, effortlessly segueing from ethereal impressionism to earthy expressionism. His all-star quartet’s near clairvoyant interplay makes this one of the bassist’s finest albums.

Matthew Shipp Trio – Elastic Aspects (Thirsty Ear Recordings)
Pianist Matthew Shipp’s varied efforts over nearly three decades have increasingly focused attention on the venerable acoustic piano trio format. The second release by this particular lineup offers a bold reinterpretation of the tradition and a compelling reminder of Shipp’s singular mastery of the jazz idiom.

CF 259Angelica Sanchez Quintet – Wires & Moss (Clean Feed Records)
Despite her relatively low profile, pianist Angelica Sanchez’s sophomore Quintet effort expands upon its predecessor’s deft equipoise, gracefully shifting between open forms and taut written sections, conjuring vivid sonic panoramas that are among the most satisfying of her burgeoning career.

Ravi Coltrane – Spirit Fiction (ue Note Records)
Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane’s sixth record as a leader presents multiple facets of his diverse artistry in varied settings ranging from duo to quintet. Gracefully alternating between arcane post M-Base rhythmic experiments and more lyrical excursions, this is Coltrane’s most mature and engaging statement to date.

Point of Departure review by Troy Collins

CF 259Angelica Sanchez Quintet – Wires & Moss (CF 259)
Despite her enviable skills, pianist Angelica Sanchez has maintained a relatively low profile since relocating from Arizona to New York in the mid-1990s with saxophonist Tony Malaby. In addition to numerous collaborations with Malaby, Sanchez’s sideman credits include work with peers like Matt Bauder, Harris Eisenstadt and Rob Mazurek – though her output as a leader has been somewhat limited. Other than Mirror Me, her 2003 Omnitone debut, the only other title in Sanchez’s discography as a bandleader is Life Between (Clean Feed, 2008) – the phenomenal premier of her Quintet with Malaby, renowned French guitarist Marc Ducret and the stellar rhythm section of bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey.

Wires & Moss, the band’s sophomore effort, expands upon its predecessor’s deft equipoise, gracefully shifting between open forms and taut written sections. Sanchez’s elegant melodies provide boundless inspiration for her bandmates, facilitating a wide range of individualized expression – especially from Ducret. The guitarist’s dynamic versatility manifests in myriad ways, from the glassy fretwork that underpins the dolorous ballad “Feathered Light,” to the metallic shards and searing maelstroms that dominate the remainder of the album. His introductory soliloquy to the title track unveils the breadth of his wide-ranging approach; he uses fretboard hammering, whammy bar pitch bends and sustained feedback to extrapolate the tune’s sinuous melody into a multitude of abstract variations.

Selectively underpinning Ducret’s salvos, Sanchez demonstrates her mettle as a discerning accompanist whose keen understanding of dynamics provides the group with spacious vistas to explore. Her harmonically unfettered melodic sensibility and pellucid touch imbues the session with robust lyricism, whether plying delicate filigrees on the unassuming “Feathered Light,” issuing cascading neo-classical figures on the expansive title track, or closing the knotty opener, “Loomed,” with a stately cadenza.

Building on years of familiarity with her oeuvre, Malaby’s contributions to Sanchez’s work are deeply affecting. His tender soprano regales with understated sensitivity on the title cut, while his pneumatic tenor fusillades amplify the dramatic contours of “Bushido.” His commitment to Sanchez’s artistry is most telling on “Soaring Piasa.” He invests the rousing melody with soulful ruminations that gradually ascend with irrepressible urgency, inspiring the band to greater heights of controlled fervor.

Veterans Gress and Rainey gracefully navigate stop-start rhythms, unconventional meters and impressionistic accents, their practiced rapport providing magnanimous support. Buoyed by her illustrious sidemen’s stirring interpretations, the vivid panoramas revealed on Wires & Moss are among the most satisfying of Sanchez’s burgeoning career.