Tag Archives: Wires & Moss

All About Jazz Italy review by Stefano Merighi

CF 259Angelica Sanchez Quintet – Wires & Moss (CF 259)
Valutazione: 3.5 stelle
L’aura di Tim Berne aleggia lieve sopra questa ottima band. Quattro su cinque componenti del Quintet provengono infatti da molte avventure con Tim, episodi di formazione fondamentali per la loro maturazione. Brava Angelica dunque, a sceglierli e a guidarli con discrezione ma risoluta fermezza. Sanchez è in un periodo di notevole intensità creativa: il solo piano, il lavoro nel Golden Quartet di Smith e questo quintetto. Che, a un primo ascolto, è piuttosto spiazzante: composizioni meditative, che non forzano mai ritmi e archi narrativi e invitano alla concentrazione tranquilla. Insomma, abbiamo qui cinque campioni dei rispettivi strumenti, ma non ascoltiamo esibizioni muscolari né concitazioni free.

Piuttosto articolate indagini sul suono, sui rapporti timbrici speculari, saldati da una scrittura sensibile, che si evolve da un frammento, da un interludio. Ogni traccia non inizia infatti con temi assertivi o riff; muove invece da grumi sfilacciati o note tenute, che si trasformano piano in narrazioni ponderate, preziose. “Loomed” propone intrecci tra tenore e chitarra, fino all’intervento asprigno, vetroso di un Ducret sempre più lucido; la tensione sale quando Malaby impone un eloquio potente sopra un’ancora ritmica ostinata. Poi, rarefazione e pianoforte in solitudine, tenue.

E’ musica esemplare per riflettere sulla frattura che molti autori hanno operato rispetto alle filiazioni jazzistiche riconoscibili. La Sanchez, come molti altri, è cresciuta potendo ascoltare enormi discografie, dunque influenzata da fonti anche disparate e antitetiche. Logico dunque che lo spettro espressivo sia frantumato, che non vuol dire confuso.

Come pianista, Sanchez punta su un fraseggio fluido, vagamente hancockiano, lontano però da vezzi e iterazioni: ciò che le interessa è la sostanza e il respiro d’insieme. Come in “Soaring Piasa,” grande brano che da un duo astratto Malaby-Ducret entra in un territorio da ballad e si apre a interventi del tenore e del piano in simultanea, con variazioni tematiche e intensità ritmiche. Il tandem Gress-Rainey fa faville anche su tonalità impressioniste e ci pensa Marc Ducret a graffiare da par suo, in una strepitosa introduzione solitaria in “Wires & Moss”. Qualche episodio è più sfocato e manca forse un colpo da ko. Ma la coerenza del paesaggio sonoro riscatta anche qualche sequenza sfibrata.

Buon disco.

Free Jazz review by Tom Burris

CF 259Angelica Sanchez Quintet  – Wires & Moss  (CF 259)
Angelica Sanchez is one of the main reasons that Rob Mazurek Pulsar Quartet’s Stellar Pulsations is one of my favorite records of 2012.  Her sublime chord progressions and rhythmic jabs lie at the heart of what makes that great band work.  Basically, she’s Mazurek’s Herbie Hancock, freely pushing and pulling the other members of the group with intuitive grace.

On this, her fourth album as a leader, her approach isn’t one of balance, but one of counterpoint – usually with guitarist Marc Ducret as her brilliant adversary.  Ducret plays angular, choppy figures against Sanchez’s fluid, lyrical lines – and then they switch roles.  The duels manage to get very tangled, as the two musicians playing the chording instruments in the group.  The richness they create as they weave around each other is enchanting and spellbinding.

The themes don’t jump out and announce themselves, but sneak up on you later – after you’ve stopped listening to the music – encouraging (and rewarding) many repeat listening sessions. Standout track and centerpiece, “Soaring Piasa,” builds into something approximating David S. Ware’s classic quartet, which speaks volumes about the chemistry between the players.  (This might be a good place to mention that Tony Malaby is the saxophonist.)  Everything about this album just feels right.

The New York Times review by Nate Chinen

Angelica Sanchez Quintet – Wires & Moss (CF 259)
This pianist-composer likes building structures and breaking free of them, as she shows on “Wires & Moss” (Clean Feed), her expressive new release. She has an expert team in place, featuring the same dauntless improvisers as on “Life Between,” from 2008: Tony Malaby on saxophones, Marc Ducret on guitar, Drew Gress on bass and Tom Rainey on drums. She grants them generous license, and the result is often a heightened tension (notably from Mr. Ducret). On “Soaring Piasa” the band eases from open abstraction to simmering incantation so gracefully that the dividing line effectively disappears.

All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

Angelica Sanchez Quintet: Wires & Moss (CF 259)
Perceptive composer and cunning improviser, educator/keyboardist Angelica Sanchez has risen to the A-list of modern stylists and innovators. As history dictates, she largely summons the crème-de-la-crème of like-minded artists for her solo endeavors. Indeed, Sanchez’s burgeoning discography for Clean-Feed records bears witness to her resourceful persona. On Wires & Moss, she traverses a route initiated upon evocative moods and jarring tone poems.

“Soaring Piasa” is an 11-minute opus designed with guitarist Marc Ducret’s angular and creaky extended notes that help establish an unwieldy and slightly ominous introduction. As saxophonist Tony Malaby fills in the gaps along with Sanchez’s nimble piano voicings. Hence, an unnerving calm underscores the storyline. But they subsequently raise the pitch, due to the leader’s fractured jazz phrasings and subtle reverse-engineering processes, instilling a notion that many unanswered questions prevail.

It’s an open-ended piece that morphs into a structured theme, centered on a simple and congenial melody line, where Malaby elevates the pitch via his plaintive cries during the finale. Sanchez and associates inject quite a few teasers into this multifaceted work. The ensemble decrees a translucent median, toggling between artistic risk-taking and modern mainstream while tossing several riotous detours into the grand schema.

Free Jazz review by Joe Higham

Angelica Sanchez – Wires and Moss (CF 259)
What a magisterial opening to an album, ‘Loomed’ bumps into action giving a positive impression with the first melody. Here I am listening to Angelica Sanchez’s 4th album(*) to date as a leader, a finely produced album of lovely melodies and searching solos. This is also the second album from Clean Feed with this line-up, Tony Malaby – saxes, Marc Ducret – guitar, Drew Gress – bass, Tom Rainey – drums and of course Sanchez – piano, and a very fine group it is.

The album is made up of six pieces which work on the development of melody and freedom. It’s a concept that is gradually evolving throughout the modern jazz world. Structured melodies give way to open ended improvisations, sometimes wild and improvised, and others based on rhythms or melodic fragments used elsewhere. What gives these records, this one included, a very exciting side to them is the ability to interpret chord progressions using modern vocabulary. Lessons learnt from Albert Ayler, Braxton or Derek Bailey are now the norms, moving the art post-bop orientated improvisation into the realms of jazz for conservatory musicians. On this album tracks such as the fine opening ‘Loomed’ let the musicians probe areas that aren’t necessarily suggested in the initial tune before working in a more melodic area that although semi-written inspires the musicians to find alternative vocabulary. ‘Feathered Light’ lets Tony Malaby weave intricate soprano lines that are neither tonal nor atonal. However before Malaby solos Angelic Sanchez opens up the material a little in the same way that Keith Jarrett did back in his classic Impulse years band of Paul Motian, Dewey Redman and Charlie Haden. In fact the music probably owes more to that era (style) than one would maybe think.

‘Soaring Piasa’ finds Tony Malaby and Marc Ducret trading ideas before Angelica Sanchez gives the rhythm section some sort of harmony to work with. Drew Gress and Tom Rainey accompany her like a modern Bill Evans trio before the sax of Tony Malaby joins them by which time it’s clear that the melody is being developed and prepared to lead the group towards the end of the piece. It’s a very graceful and inventive piece that combines open soloing and classic melodic writing. the excellent ‘Wire and Moss’ which features Marc Ducret also works a little on the same idea. A sort of A-B-A structure with ‘B’ being the melody. ‘Dore’ has a dense melody full of rhythmic surprises. Gradually it lets the musicians find their own way, who then develop a more ‘open’ approach to the improvisation. ‘Bushida’ the final track is given over to Drew Gress who opens up the tune with a wonderful unaccompanied bass intro. The piece then moves gradually away into a dark melody that is punctuated by Tom Rainy’s (almost rock) drumming which accompanies Marc Ducret rough solo and Tony Malaby’s poly-harmonic(**) lines.

It’s a strong idea to finish an album that is certainly a pleasure to listen to. I imagine this will certainly be of interest for those who enjoy music that is ‘new’ in terms of jazz, yet aren’t ready to jump directly into more abstract improvised music.

*= I could only find, and remember, the following : ‘Mirror Me’ (Omnitone), ‘Life Between’ and ‘A Little House’ on Clean Feed Records.
**= Sorry for the maths expression ‘poly-harmonic’, but somehow it seems to conjure up the idea of these atonal/melodic lines.

The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

Angelica Sanchez Quintet – Wires and Moss (CF 259)
Pianist Angelica Sanchez presents a new band here, with a frontline of Tony Malaby on soprano and tenor saxes and Marc Ducret on guitar and a rhythm section of Drew Gress and Tom Rainey. It might be convenient to call it a quintet, but at times it hints at that ancient usage of “orchestra” for even the smallest number of musicians: there’s a breadth and a passion and a vision here that suggest great movements and the sweep of history. Sanchez’ compositions are essentially lyrical, whatever the tempo, and they draw on the expressive reserves of both Malaby and Ducret. The former’s sound is a kind of on-going mutation of the idea of breath with the latter’s a sometimes astonishing transformation of the human, his guitar a machine that has learned to speak its own language. The degrees of empathy and focused intensity come to the fore on “Soaring Piasa”, an almost anthemic melody first drawn from Malaby’s mutters, then carried forward by Sanchez’ lightly darting, abstract piano lines, the subtle under pinnings of Ducret, the power of Gress and the looming drama of Rainey all extending the range of motion until Malaby returns and tests the theme for every hint of meaning, expanding its phrases until new messages breakthrough the dense grain and wide vibrato of his sound. Each member of the group assumes the foreground, whether in solo spots or as a leading voice. “Dare” has Rainey at his most abstract, a central figure in a dialogue in which other musicians may keep time while he plays with, plunders and ultimately trivializes its conventionality. Sanchez’ structure is made for it, an elastic vision in which that play of time ultimately becomes a kind of five-ring circus, the various speakers bending the notion of time toward a lyric center. This quintet might be an ideal vehicle for Sanchez, whether the musicians are picking up strands of meaning in her work or adding their own (like Ducret’s intro to the title track or that of Gress on “Bushido”), enriching them all and creating a richly layered field of interpretation and realization around each theme.