Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Made to Break - Provoke (Clean Feed, 2013)

Recorded in Lisbon during the 10th anniversary celebration for the Clean Feed record label, this new ensemble consists of Christof Kurzmann on electronics, Devin Hoff on bass, Ken Vandermark on saxophones and Tim Daisy on drums. According to the liner notes, this band would practice “modular improvisation,” which creates sections of varying texture and intensity. Things open well on “Further (For John Cage)” with a strong and exciting full band opening before throttling back dramatically to a slow and abstract middle section/module where lighter than air saxophone wafts over tapping rhythm. Another module towards the end of the performance regains some of the energy, with long peals of saxophone over rolling drums. “Presentation (For Buckminster Fuller)” uses drones and smears of strummed or hammered bass and electronics. They move through this section for quite a long time, before the bass and drums ramp up and Vandermark’s saxophone builds in, developing a more interesting collectively improvised section. The final of the tracks (all run nearly twenty minutes) is “Of The Facts (For Marshall McLuhan)” which once again builds from a slow and tentative beginning to gradually develop intensity with bursts of saxophone, drums and electronic delay. The group shifts down once again to an abstract ominous module before waking up to a strong conclusion. There were parts of this album which were quite good, but overall I felt that the length of the songs worked against it. They spent an interminable amount of time investigating what drummer Bill Bruford called “squeaky-bump” jazz, that is low volume, spacious and abstract improvisation. This was undoubtedly fascinating to the musicians themselves, but I had a hard time concentrating, and thus was excited by the thrilling and compelling areas or up-tempo and free improvisation. Made to Break - Provoke: clean feed.

Send comments to Tim.