Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Nate Wooley, Hugo Antunes, Jorge Queijo, Mário Costa and Chris Corsano - Purple Patio (NoBusiness Records, 2016)

This group represents some of the cream of the American and European improvised music scene, including Nate Wooley on trumpet, Hugo Antunes on bass and Jorge Queijo, Mário Costa and Chris Corsano on drums. All of the music was collectively composed and improvised and this album was recorded May 12, 2012 in Portugal. “Parturition” begins the album in an explosive fashion with fast and hard drums and slashing trumpet making for a very exciting performance. There is a ferocity here that is found nowhere else on the album, and even when they throttle back, it’s just to marshal forces to surge forth once again with gales of percussion and trumpet rushing to the finish in a thrilling and life affirming performance. Long tones of trumpet usher in “Aurora” which is punctuated with streams and squeaks of sound. The bass builds in both bowed and plucked and the percussion develops in a skittering, nervous fashion. The group slowly gains velocity in an elusive and ride ranging improvisation. “Animals” envelops the listener in subtle interplay between Wooley and the percussionists. The music is tight and the development of the collective improvisation between trumpet, bass and drummers is unhurried and thoughtful. Bowed bass and rumbling percussion are the foundation or “Triangle” making way for a lengthy percussion dialogue that is subtle and nuanced. Finally, “Sueca” has deep bass and rolling percussion backed by strong trumpet playing. The group gets a respectful clean sound that is well articulated with Wooley’s horn juxtaposed against the thicket of percussion and bass. The music ends strong with piercing trumpet and thick bass resonating against the ripening drumming in a very exciting fashion. Purple Patio - NoBusiness Records

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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Sao Paulo Underground - Cantos Invisíveis (Cuneiform Records, 2016)

Cornetist and electronic musician Rob Mazurek is one of the most consistently interesting musicians in the field of jazz and improvised music, both leading and collaborating in several groundbreaking ensembles. Sao Paulo Underground is a very exciting band that combines jazz, electronics and fusion into a vigorous brew of music. Along with Mazurek the band features Mauricio Takara on drums, electronics and voice and Guilherme Granado on keyboards, percussion and voice. They’re joined on several tracks by Thomas Rohrer on reeds, percussion and voice. The band sounds much bigger than three musicians with their use of electronics and strong percussion recalling Sun Ra’s most progressive records like Atlantis and The Magic City. This album truly sounds like a collaborative effort and the personalities of the group shine throughout. The music on this album works very well, and the group supersedes any easy genre description in developing a broad and resonant sound which is pushed forth with an energetic vigor. The music on this album deftly mixes influences: contemporary Brazilian music, electronics and spiritual jazz like an updated version of Impulse Records early 70's groove and free jazz LP’s by Archie Sheep and Pharaoh Sanders create a sound that moves like a dreamscape and every track works well as its own self-contained sound world while melding into the cohesive whole of the album. Mazurek, who has worked in several different musical contexts plays very well here, accenting the music and the electronic sculptures and punctuating the music with solo cornet breakouts. The group’s music here defies any particular box or category, drifting on a wave of freedom and possibility and making extraordinary music throughout with a unique approach to structure.Cantos Invisíveis -

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Barry Guy - The Blue Shroud (Intakt Records, 2016)

British bassist and composer Barry Guy has produced a large, expansive, progressive recording which melds spoken word, vocalization, strings and best of all some torrid sections of large group improvisation. This longform composition by Guy was recorded October 17 and 18, 2015 during the Ad Libitum Festival in Warsaw. Guy has written many compositions for the London Jazz Composers Orchestra and his own New Orchestra, and this is a large scale work designed for a new international ensemble. Guy's work The Blue Shroud was influenced by the paintings of Pablo Picasso. Not only is the music designed to commemorate the people of the Spanish towns who were victims of the Nazi German air force bombardment during the Spanish Civil War but also Guy wants to remind listeners of the sad episode when the Picasso’s work at the United Nations Security Council was covered by a blue drape during the discussions that led to the ill fated war in Iraq. Guy looks to use the healing power of music to take on the sadness of these historical events, making pains to call into account the impact of the military might, governmental folly and the media blindness. Barry Guy uses the techniques of new music and jazz improvisation, as well as fragments of classical music and a section of poetry. It results in a powerful and imposing piece of music. The voice and song of Greek singer Savina Yannatou is at the center of much of the music, providing a deep sense of gravitas, but also rays of hope and the presence of humanity. The band is anchored by the leader’s bass along with four reeds, brass, piano, strings and two drummers. The instrumentalists are able to provide the sombre music necessary to support the vocalizations, but is also able to break out with some fantastic and torrential playing the exemplifies the futility of war, but also provides the catharsis to move beyond it. The Blue Shroud -

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Abbey Rader West Coast Quartet ‎– First Gathering (Abray Productions, 2015)

Drummer Abbey Rader has made a major resurgence over the past year with his excellent Reunion title which featured Kidd Jordan and this album which places him with Drew Ceccato on alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, Peter Kuhn (who put out two excellent albums of his own this year) on alto and tenor saxophones, plus bass clarinet and Kyle Motl on bass. The music on this album consists of four very exciting and open ended performances, which allow the group to explore a wide range of dynamic ranges and feelings. “Foreign Dust” opens the album in a very exciting manner with the twin saxophone front line putting together a series of relentless improvisations solo and duet with the rhythm section of bass and drums keeping the pressure on as the music boils mightily. Motl plays some excellent bowed bass on the following track “Inward Light” which does build a more introspective examination with haunting reeds and spare percussion. The group takes action in traveling through an undefined musical area in order to learn about it. The concluding tracks, “Enduring Mind” and “Realization To Truth” take a path of constant motion between the two extremes. Kuhn’s bass clarinet is particularly impressive in adding color and depth to the music which is characterized by unpredictable change, activity, and progressive exploration of the improvised music format. Rader’s music is a force that stimulates change or progress within modern jazz thorough analysis of a composition or theme and hopefully these albums will get him some much deserved attention in the jazz world. First Gathering -

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

11th Annual Francis Davis/4th Annual NPR Jazz Critics Poll Ballot

Hello, sorry that blogging has been rather sparse lately, I have been under the weather, but hope to mount a comeback soon and finish the year strong. In the meantime, with the deadline looming, I submitted my choices to Francis Davis for his year end poll:

•Your choices for this year’s 10 best New Releases (albums released between last Thanksgiving and this, give or take) listed in descending order one-through-ten.
1. Cortex - Live in New York (Clean Feed, 2016)
2. The DKV Thing Trio - Collider (NotTwo Records, 2016)
3. Jon Lundbom and Big Five Chord - 2016:EPs (Hot Cup, 2016)
4. LUME - Xabregas 10 (Clean Feed, 2016)
5. Henry Threadgill Ensemble Double Up - Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi Recordings, 2016)
6. John Zorn - Flaga: The Book of Angels Volume 27 (Tzadik, 2016)
7. Made to Break - Before the Code: Live (Audiographic Records, 2016)
8. Abbey Rader Quartet With Kidd Jordan - Reunion (ABRAY Productions, 2016)
9. Black Bombaim and Peter Brotzmann (Shhpuma, 2016)
10. Mostly Other People Do the Killing - Live (For Tune Records, 2016)

•Your top-three Reissues or Historical albums, again listed in descending order
1. Peter Kuhn - No Coming, No Going: The Music of Peter Kuhn 1978-1979 (NoBusiness Records, 2016)
2. David S. Ware and Matthew Shipp Duo - Live in Sant'Anna Arresi 2004 (AUM Fidelity, 2016)
3. Larry Young - In Paris: The ORTF Recordings (Resonance Records, 2016)

•Your choice for the year's best Vocal album


•Your choice for the year's best Debut album
1. Damana - Cornua Copiae (Clean Feed, 2016)

•Your choice for the year’s best Latin jazz album
1. Anat Cohen and Trio Brasileiro - Alegria da Casa (Anzic Records, 2016) Can this be considered Latin? If not, then n/a.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Ivo Perelman / Karl Berger / Gerald Cleaver - Art of the Improv Trio Vol 1 (Leo Records, 2016)

This is a fascinating and dynamic album recorded with tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman accompanied by Karl Berger on piano and Gerald Cleaver on drums. All of these men are longtime veterans of the avant / free jazz scene, and this album also marks the beginning of Perelman’s ambitious Art of the Improv Trio series. The album is a series of collective improvisations, where everyone is playing their instruments in a thoughtful and open manner. Subtle peals of air and darting keyboard and percussion sounds encourage Perelman’s evocative saxophone into higher pitches and breathy lulls. Punchy, sharp squeaks and hollow clanks work also very well as the music develops. Moving further afield, several of the performances paint the air with quiet authority with thoughtful piano chords, notes and breath, developing a haunted air akin to the music that Albert Ayler developed with his acoustic trios in the mid 1960’s, at least until Perelman breaks the spell, by pushing his instrument into a more strident focus and truly claiming the music as his own. Always shifting and darting percussion never allows the music to become stale in combination with the circling nature of Perelman’s saxophone it gives the music a sense of energy that is comparable to an unstoppable cosmic force of nature that is yearning to break free. The music is in constant motion, as Berger takes his piano through descending trails of notes, and Perelman meets them with high pitched saxophone calls. Some of the improvisations will begin with Perelman alone, playing with a lonely, quiet and serious sound, that then develops a wide range of emotional color soon to be shaded patiently by Cleaver’s percussion in a quietly emotional performance. At times a feeling of abandoned sadness overflows in emotional squalls of saxophone and carries the music forward where Perelman becomes very forthright in his improvising, ascending and descending in passion and volume while Berger’s piano moves in the free space created by the harsher sounds. There are beautiful interludes for saxophone, with Perelman playing with a raw and wounded sound that is emotionally open and free from pretense. His tone is captivating and his patient cries of saxophone usher in sections that have ecstatic blasts of percussive drums and bursts of raw saxophone that meet and converse and delve even deeper into the artistic principles of improvised music. The album is complemented by wholly improvised music where the squeaks and squiggles of fast saxophone meet the shimmering nature of the percussion and piano in an example of great interplay. It becomes an exciting romp, playful and fun, between colleagues who have nothing but the highest respect for one another. Art of the Improv Trio Vol 1 -

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