Thursday, April 27, 2017

Links 4/27

Stereogum ranks The Rolling Stones LP's
Aquarium Drunkard has a Dudu Pukwana playlist and they also interview Dave Davies.
Jeremiah Cymerman has another excellent podcast conversation, this time with Chuck Bettis.
The Guardian offers a list of the ten best King Crimson tracks.
My friend John hipped me to the excellent Blues Unlimited podcast.
An interesting interview with flute player and composer Nicole Mitchell.
Tom Hull offers another music week post.
Ethan Iverson hosts an interview with David Murray.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Brian Marsella - Buer: Book of Angels 31 (Tzadik, 2017)

Well versed in the music of John Zorn, the trio of Brian Marsella on piano, Trevor Dunnon bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums is the perfect group to interpret a collection of compositions from Zorn's Book of Angels. This is one for the jazziest albums in the series, with echoes of McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill setting the scene for this collection. "Jekusiel" opens the album with a strong trio performance, and everyone is playing in a very fast and percussive manner. The brash and intrepid piano soloing resonates through the music with thick elastic bass and insistent drumming in support and on the full band improvisation. Crisp-sounding drumming opens "Akzariel," leading to a rattling and flowing trio section. Storming keyboard work keeps the excitement building, and crafty drumming adds to the feeling of propulsion, making for a fast and ferocious performance. "Parymel" uses powerful bass to begin, and intensely hued piano playing and ripe percussion draw from a deep well of energy. The music is loud but impeccably played, taking the interesting melody and expanding upon it, creating music that is at the same time provocative and probing, with Marsella moving percussively up and down the keyboard and recalling the great Don Pullen. There is a haunted medium tempo theme to begin "Karkiel", which gives way to a tempest of piano, percussion and bass that delves deeply into the music's emotional resonance. This track uses dynamic tension to provide shades of light and shadow, from sudden slashes of piano to rippling cymbal play, then coming together with high-speed cooperation. "Tsirya" is another short and furiously played performance, with an excellent drum solo and then the trio coming together to create music that’s both vivid and self-reliant. The improvisation is brimming with energy and dizzyingly well performed and together the trio creates a boiling stream of endlessly fascinating rhythm. Another very exciting fast paced performance is "Zagin," with muscular piano abutted by the interplay of powerful bass and drums. Much the same is "Petahel," developing deeply percussive music from all three instruments and allowing the music to take energy from a choppy theme and ply it in a sparkling improvised section. This makes for a spirited performance, encapsulating a some fine drum soloing and trade-offs between piano and drums. The music on this album is made by a trio of kindred spirits, and they make sounds that are inventive and inviting, using the memorable themes from the Book Of Angels and cooking up superb music from them. Buer: Book of Angels 31 - amazon.com

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ivo Perelman - The Art of Perelman - Shipp Vol. 7: Dione (Leo Records, 2017)

The concluding volume of this excellent series of meetings between tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp welcomes the legendary drummer Andrew Cyrille who famously recorded with Cecil Taylor and other luminaries in addition to a vibrant solo career. He fits in beautifully with the two principals and works with them to develop eight pieces of collective improvisation. "Part 1" opens the album with a subtle drum solo that leads into the trio developing a vibrant collective improvisation, with emotionally resonant tenor saxophone, and strong and percussive piano, and Cyrille's open ended drumming weaving in and out of the music's structure.  "Part 2" has a quieter nature to it with Shipp playing soft and melodic piano with rising tones of saxophone greeting him. The music is open and spacious, and takes a patient and gentle path. The longest track on the album is "Part 3" which develops like a improvised suite, beginning with a raucous din of powerful trio playing, with percussive repetitive piano building energy that the potent saxophone and free ranging drums tap into. The music is played with a great deal of clarity and focus and the development of the interplay is very impressive. The combination of their individual instruments into a collective whole is very powerful before the music throttles down to a spacious murmur, with soft percussion on cymbals, then raw long tones of saxophone and softer piano which take the music to its conclusion. "Part 4" takes flight at a medium tempo, with the members circling around one another as the improvisation gains pace. The music develops a faster stride, with sweltering saxophone weaving in and out of the piano and percussion keeping the music upbeat and energetic. Spare tones and  rhythms set the foundation for "Part 5" with thick piano notes and skittering percussion along with Perelman's smears of colorful saxophone playing adding urgency to the performance. On "Part 7," dark tones of piano and scattered percussion with saxophone move carefully, and dark storm clouds envelop, infusing the music with crackling energy and potent wind. The music is powerful and exciting and the trio develops it in a wide-ranging fashion. The culmination of the album occurs on "Part 8" which has an onrushing torrent of music from the trio, creating an exciting and wild-eyed form of fresh jazz. This is a thrilling end to this extraordinary collection of albums. Adding the drum legend Cyrille is the perfect finishing stroke to this very impressive and sustained run of creativity from Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp. Dione - amazon.com

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Ivo Perelman / Matthew Shipp - The Art of Perelman-Shipp Vol. 6 (Leo Records, 2017)

Of all of the music released in this impressive series, this duet may be the centerpiece for tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp, whose musical partnership goes back decades. This cumulative experience allows them to pare away anything extraneous to get to the core of the music which is presented shorn of ornamentation or sentimentality. The music is a ten part improvised suite, beginning with "Part 1" which has a melancholy and mournful theme, with raw emotional content. Drops of piano glisten against pinched peals of saxophone and "Part 2" which follows up with urgent and raw playing from both musicians with the pushing and pulling of their playing developing a kinetic energy and heat that powers their improvisation. "Part 4" develops some ripe piano and saxophone interplay building a dynamic loud to soft dynamic structure, while "Part 5" develops a spacious and thoughtful improvisation where hearty squalls of saxophone are met with globules of piano in near telepathic interplay. The openness of the terrain leads to nearly endless possibilities for the music and there is a sense of mystery inherent in the their playing that keeps the music continuously compelling, especially on "Part 7" where they employ great patience in creating sounds that are spare and deep building to "Part 9" where massive low end blocks of piano set the stage for flying sparks of saxophone. Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp share a deep musical connection the is on fine display with this album. Trust is the key, the understanding that however out and abstract the music may get, they support each other and persevere, continuing to make fine art completely in the moment and creating a celebration of musical freedom. Saturn - amazon.com

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Eivind Opsvik - Overseas V (Loyal Label, 2017)

Norwegian bassist and composer Eivind Opsvik is on the fifth volume of his Overseas series which deftly combines progressive jazz with tinges of rock and electronic music. He is joined in this endeavor by Brandon Seabrook on electric guitar, Tony Malaby on tenor saxophone, Kenny Wollesen on drums and percussion and Jacob Sacks on keyboards. The band is open in time and space, and the improvisations are very thoughtful and exciting. "Hold Everything" melds strong drumming with electronics making for a tight foundation. The leader's thick bass adds further strength and there are sparks of guitar accenting the music. Malaby's tenor gradually folds in, developing a gutsy and immediate tone that provides contrast to the electronics. There is an urgency to the strong rhythm on "Brraps!" with sawing bowed bass playing off against ecstatic guitar. The band comes together for a very nice collective section, taking aspects of funk and adding potent saxophone for a very interesting mixture. The rhythm and the beat are central to this performance, and they allow for a great sense of propulsion leading to an abrupt ending. "First Challenge of the Road" features an insistent and strong rockish sensibility and a sense of repetitiveness that allows the music to gather strength and energy before finally breaking free to a powerful full band improvisation that takes the music to new heights, a post-modern combination of modern jazz and alternative rock that would fit comfortably with the likes of Tortoise as they mine a deep and memorable groove. "IZO" has shifting rhythms and tumbling grooves that are alluring and allow the music to move organically within certain boundaries. Instruments bubble up for short solos and features only to be dragged back into the tumult. Brawny saxophone meets disjointed piano and scratchy guitar to excellent effect, creating music that is both engaging and intellectual. The finale, "Katmania Duskmann" is an excellent example of genre-bending improvisation, with raw guitar and saxophone butting heads with strong rhythm section. The music twists and turns through ever-shifting textures, creating a very exciting and compelling performance. This album gives the listener an excellent example of how modern jazz musicians are incorporating popular music forms into their sound without undermining the complexity of the form. Overseas V - amazon.com

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dennis Coffey - Hot Coffey in the D (Resonance Records, 2017)

This is a previously unreleased live album by Motown associated guitarist Dennis Coffey which was recorded live In Detroit in 1968 in the company of Lyman Woodard on organ and Melvin Davis on drums. It is a fine recording of the soul-jazz variety and one that is worthy of hearing as they cover a wide range of rhythm and blues and pop music with a jazzy flair and nonchalant virtuosity. "Fuzz" opens the album with a pleasing organ and drums groove, with some snarling and effects tinged guitar giving the music grit and propulsion. The trio moves together nicely with sparks of electric guitar igniting the clouds of swirling keyboard and snappy drumming. This was a weekly gig for the trio at the time and that led to some very tight playing and inventive improvising. The Jimmy Webb pop song "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" is taken with a lighter and more melodic touch, painting in pastel tones which made for a much jazzier performance. The longest piece of the album, "The Look Of Love" is another pop song, made popular by Dusty Springfield in 1967. The band patiently takes the listener on a journey from a plaintive statement of the theme, that is the foundation for a slowly unfolding extrapolation of the music complete with waves of rolling organ, shards of guitar and a deep rhythmic groove, making for a very interesting improvised jam. Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" brings the music back to modern jazz territory taking a subtle guitar-led reading of the melody over shimmering keyboard and percussion. They double down into a more complex and exciting improvised section, upping the speed of the performance, before delving back down for a subtler landing. "The Big D" takes the group back into rhythm and blues territory, with Coffey adding effects to his guitar and the organ and drums locked in tight, making for a storming soul jazz improvisation. This was a very good recording, and it was definitely deserving of release. Something special happened when these three people played music together, and their ability to meld jazz and soul contributed to a continuously interesting album. Hot Coffey In The D - amazon.com

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Gary Clark Jr. - Live North America 2016 (Warner Bros., 2017)

Modern blues guitarist and singer Gary Clark Jr.'s second live album in a few years is another worthwhile effort and it leans toward the exciting hard blues punctuated by some falsetto drenched soul. The best parts of the music embraces raw grit and funk, developing talented solo and ensemble performances, with several lengthy and memorable guitar led jams. He fronts a rough and ready band and they come out of the gate hard with the appropriately titled "Grinder" and "The Healing" which lead the way with some blistering riffs and soloing and setting the tone for the rest of the album. "When My Train Pulls In" was one of the foundation tracks of his extraordinary debut album and this live version is very potent, with huge slabs of guitar riffing and a massive solo framed by deep and powerful vocals. The group ends the album with an epic trio of performances beginning with a version of blues legend Jimmy Reed's "Honest I Do" that is steeped in the country blues tradition and then the intensity begins to ramp up with some corrosive guitar soloing on "My Baby's Gone" followed by a triumphant version of "Numb" that brings everything together in a powerful conclusion of heavy guitar playing sand insistent rhythm. Overall this is a very good collection of rock tinged hard blues that should appeal to fans of both electric blues and rootsy rock 'n' roll. This album consolidates the raw electric blues of his early recordings and his sweet soulful ambitions and ties them together in a solid collection of live performances. Live North America 2016 - amazon.com

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Itaru Oki / Nobuyoshi Ino / Sun Bae - Kami Fusen (No Business Records, 2017)

This is an interesting and deeply emotional album of subtle and spacious music created by Itaru Oki on trumpet and bamboo flute, Nobuyoshi Ino on bass and Choi Sun Bae on trumpet. The lack of drums and a chordal instrument makes for a very wide open sound stage for brass and bass and allows the musicians to explore both experimental music and creative exploration of a few jazz standards making for a well rounded recording. The first four performances on this album consist of original compositions and free improvisations, in an exciting setting for double brass and bass. Ino's role as the bassist is very interesting as he acts as a fulcrum for the music, but also unmoors himself to create solo and collective statements of his own. The trumpet players are very expressive in a wide range of settings and when Oki switches to his bamboo flute, he opens up a whole new dimension for the music to travel in. It is interesting to hear the trio shift gears from free and abstract improvisation into playing a jazz standard "I Remember Clifford" and a medley of American popular songbook tunes "Old Folks / Tea For Two." What is most impressive is that the band is able to maintain their focus on exploration during these performances, beginning with the Benny Golson composition which is dedicated to the great trumpeter Clifford Brown who died far too young. The two trumpet players on this album use that familiar melody and their clear familiarity with Brown's playing to create an honest and powerful performance of this tune that is poignant and thoughtful. This deep melodic sensibility continues in the medley that closes the album, where the musicians are able to incorporate the themes of these familiar standards into an improvisation which shows their ability as improvisers as well as there ability as interpreters. This was a fine album, the musicians are very talented and patient, carefully letting their sound develop and broaden to encompass a wide range of feelings and emotions. Fans of creative improvised music will find a lot to like on this album. Kami Fusen - No Business Records.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Trio Heinz Herbert - The Willisau Concert (Intakt Records, 2017)

This is a young collective band consisting of Dominic Landolt on guitar and effects, Ramon Landolt on synthesizers, samples and piano and Mario Hänni on drums and effects. The three musicians set out to great a wholly individual music, one that combines precision and playfulness with a sense of exploration and experimentation. "Granulare Liebe/LEI" opens the album with a massive edifice of sound, one which sounds much larger than the work of three musicians, using electronic sound and percussion to develop a clicking, whirring and industrial sound that builds an angry and ominous energy, moving faster and faster to the end where the music drops off suddenly. Spacey drips of sound and mysterious smears of electronic noise swirl about on "Fragment Z/Brugguda" before the group builds more intense and repetitive nature to the music, using the coiled energy they develop to build a scratching and fractured rhythm. "Hyper Down" opens with spare sounds, near silence that allows spacious electronics to play off against open piano chords. Slowly, the music begins to spread out and fill in, as light percussion and low toned guitar with shimmering piano glide into the picture. Shards of guitar and electronics over a skittering drum beat, leading the rest of the concert into a loud/soft dynamism that alternates abstract passages of sound with sections of rocking jazz fusion as the music continually simmers and storms. The music on this album is spacious and textural, a weave that only hints at jazz, with a strong experimental sheen that makes it a challenging listen, infused with its freedom and spirit of adventure. The Willisau Concert - amazon.com

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Ed Palermo Big Band - The Great Un-American Songbook, Volumes I & II (Cuneiform, 2017)

This is an interesting and effervescent big band album with saxophonist and composer Ed Palermo's talented jazz orchestra moving through a very lengthy selection of arrangements of British progressive rock songs from the the nineteen sixties and early nineteen seventies. These years were formative ones for that genre as well as progressive big bands led by the likes of Don Ellis. Palermo is best known for interpreting the compositions of Frank Zappa, and he takes that experience and brings it to the songs he grew up to make an album makes for a loving if exhausting double album. His band members are highly talented musicians which play the charts with enthusiasm and this makes for music which is accessible for both jazz and rock fans. Beginning, as it always seems to, with The Beatles, the band bounces through "Good Morning, Good Morning" and a violin tinged version of "Eleanor Rigby." There are short sections of jokey banter between some of the tracks like the trippy and swirling take on The Rolling Stones's "We Love You." The more complex music of King Crimson is just the ticket for this group, and their versions of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One" features nervous percussion and violin while "21st Century Schizoid Man" adds vocals for an epic and imposing feel. Disc two goes off topic briefly, channeling The Nice's controversial organ drenched reading of Leonard Bernstein's "America" and then tacking on a brief snarky cover of Green Day's "American Idiot." They follow these performances with a nice spacey interlude of "Diamond Dust" and Traffic's "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys." The organ drenched madness of Arthur Brown's "Fire" gets things moving again before the group returns to where it all started with a trio of Beatles songs to finish the album. This may be an exercise in nostalgia, but the arrangements and the high quality of the ensemble playing and soloists keep the music fresh and interesting. The Great Un-American Songbook, Volumes I & II - amazon.com

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Interesting Links 4/11/2017


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Saturday, April 08, 2017

2017 Downbeat Magazine Critic's Poll Ballot









Hall of Fame: Sam Rivers, Thomas Chapin, John Zorn
Jazz Artist: Ivo Perelman, Ken Vandermark, John Zorn
Rising Star Jazz Artist: Kris Davis, Mary Halvorson, Jon Irabagon
Album of the Year: Cortex - Live in New York (Clean Feed), DKV/Thing Trio - Collider (NotTwo Records), Jon Lundbom and Big Five Chord - 2016:EPs (Hot Cup, 2016)
Historical Album of the Year: Peter Kuhn - No Coming, No Going: The Music of Peter Kuhn 1978-1979 (No Business), David S. Ware and Matthew Shipp Duo - Live in Sant'Anna Arresi 2004 (AUM Fidelity); Sun Ra, Singles: The Definitive 45s Collection Vol. 1, 1952–1961 (Strut)
Jazz Group: Mostly Other People Do the Killing, The Bad Plus, The Thing
Rising Star Jazz Group: LUME, Cortex, Made to Break
Big Band: Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit, Angles 9, Matt Lavelle's 12 Houses
Rising Star Big Band: Mary Halvorson Octet, Audio One, Oliver Lake Big Band
Trumpet: Rob Mazurek, Charles Tolliver, Wadada Leo Smith
Rising Star Trumpet: Ron Horton, Ralph Alessi, Jonathan Finlayson
Trombone: Steve Swell, Jeb Bishop, Grachan Moncour III
Rising Star Trombone: Michael Vlatkovich, Jose Davila, Jeff Albert
Soprano Saxophone: Sam Newsome, Vinny Golia, Branford Marsalis
Rising Star Soprano Saxophone: Phillip Johnston, Nat Birchall, Jon Irabagon
Alto Saxophone: Rudresh Mahanthappa, Steve Lehman, Oliver Lake
Rising Star Alto Saxophone: Anna Hogberg, Andrew D’Angelo, John O’Gallagher
Tenor Saxophone: Ivo Perelman, Jon Irabagon, Branford Marsalis
Rising Star Tenor Saxophone: Brian Patneaude; Nat Birchall, Keefe Jackson
Baritone Saxophone: Mats Gustaffson, James Carter; Gary Smulyan
Rising Star Baritone Saxophone: Dave Rempis; Gebhard Ullman, Michael Attias
Clarinet: Ken Vandermark, Anat Cohen
Rising Star Clarinet: Peter Kuhn, Josh Stinton, Aram Shelton
Flute: Henry Threadgill, Nicole Nitchell, James Spaulding
Rising Star Flute: Kali Z. Fasteau, Andrew Lamb, Sabir Mateen
Piano: Matthew Shipp, Vijay Iyer, David Virelles
Rising Star Piano: Kris Davis, Matt Mitchell, Craig Taborn
Keyboard: Jamie Saft, Craig Taborn, Rob Mazurek
Rising Star Keyboard: Jason Linder, Thollem McDonas, David Virelles
Organ: John Medeski, Brian Charette, Gary Versace
Rising Star Organ: Larry Goldings, Jared Gold, Mike LeDonne
Guitar: Jon Lundbom, Rez Abbasi, Mary Halvorson
Rising Star Guitar: Matt Hollenberg, David Gilmore, Tom Hasslan
Bass: William Parker, Michael Bisio, Jon Hebert
Rising Star Bass: Moppa Eliott, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Lisa Mezzacappa
Electric Bass: Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Massimo Pupillo, Trevor Dunn
Rising Star Electric Bass: Bill Laswell: 5; Jasper Stadhouders: 3; Linda Oh
Violin: Jenny Scheinman, Mat Maneri, Mark Feldman
Rising Star Violin: Jeff Gautheir, Jessica Pavone, Rob Thomas
Drums: Hamid Drake, Paal Nilssen-Love, Tomas Fujiwara
Rising Star Drums: Ches Smith, Kevin Shea, Kenny Grohowski
Percussion: Cyro Baptista, Kahil El’Zabar, Susie Ibarra
Rising Star Percussion: Harris Eisenstadt, Chris Corsano, Michael Zerang
Vibraphone: Jason Adasiewicz, Kenny Wollesen, Matt Moran
Rising Star Vibraphone: Chris Dingman, Stefon Harris, Kevin Norton
Misc. Instrument: David Murray (bass clarinet), Ken Vandermark (bass clarinet),
Rising Star Misc. Instrument: Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Colin Stetson (bass saxophone), Ben Wendel (bassoon)
Female Jazz Singer: Leena Conquest, Linda Sharrock
Rising Star Female Jazz Singer: Jen Shyu
Male Jazz Singer: Mose Allison (RIP), Theo Bleckmann, James Blood Ulmer
Rising Star Male Jazz Singer: n/a
Composer: Henry Threadgill, John Zorn, Rob Mazurek
Rising Star Compser: Brian Patneaude, Florian Weber, Moppa Elliott
Arranger: Ken Vandermark, John Zorn, Ryan Truesdell
Rising Star Arranger: Ben Allison, Moppa Eliott, Harris Eisenstadt
Record Label: Clean Feed, AUM Fidelity, No Business
Producer: Dave Douglas, Jeff Gauthier, John Zorn
Rising Star Producer: Leo Feigin, John Corbett, Ben Wendel
Blues Artist: Joe Louis Walker, Garr Clark Jr., James Blood Ulmer
Blues Album: Rolling Stones - Blue & Lonesome (forgive me)
Beyond Artist: Sleater-Kinney, Jack White, Tortoise
Beyond Album: Sleater-Kinney - Live in Paris, Sleaford Mods - English Tapas, Various Artists - The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: Celebrating Mac & His Music

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Friday, April 07, 2017

Ivo Perelman - The Art of Perelman - Shipp Vol. 5: Rhea (Leo Records, 2017)

Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp share a unique enthusiasm about life and music and use this outlook to create an impressive method of interacting with other musicians that is continuously lively and refreshing. Volume five of The Art of Perelman - Shipp series returns to the quartet format with a crackling band consisting of Perelman on tenor saxophone, Shipp on piano, Michael Bisio on bass and Whit Dickey on drums. Perelman's quavering sound ushers in "Part 1" with an emotional and distinctive saxophone tone leading the way over simmering rhythm accompaniment, developing a memorable collective improvisation, that buzzes loud and furiously in a powerful performance. This is a lengthy improvisation, and Perelman steps aside at one point for a potent section of piano, bass and drums before returning and melding with the group and building up to a powerful finish from a fine bass solo. "Part 2" develops from a subtle and strong foundation, allowing the music to move in any direction the four choose, easing into "Part 3" which kneads in a boiling free-bop sensibility of rippling piano, taut bass and drums, and Perelman's epic post-Ayler tenor saxophone. The rhythm section is in fine mettle with Shipp dropping the occasional lower end depth charge, and Bisio and Dickey shifting the pulse and swing of the music relentlessly. Raw and rending sounds splice though "Part 4" creating interesting musical shapes that are in continuous motion within which the band's energy and patience gives the music a readily identifiable sound. Subtle and impressive bass opens "Part 5" setting the pace for the exhilarating entry of the remaining instruments. From this a vital collective improvisation that is born, with the music bursting out like a supernovae, enlightening everything around it. There is a flurry of notes from Perelman's saxophone that takes the music to an even higher level with muscular accompaniment which powers the music while also dynamically allowing the music to breathe in space and time. "Part 6" has Pelelman's saxophone sweeping across the sound stage, interacting with his fellow musicians and letting the moment fearlessly take them into their improvisation. The music turns darker and harsher, like a sudden storm that comes crashing down from the sky, climaxing in a massive downpour of sound that is one of the most thrilling aspects of this album. The concluding "Part 7" develops a quieter and moodier sound, building into a bracing improvisation of shifting rhythm and stark peals of saxophone. Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp have a very strong work ethic as can be seen on this album and on the series as a whole. They have a seemingly limitless well of ideas and use them to create endlessly compelling music. Vol 5: Rhea - amazon.com

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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Miles Okazaki - Trickster (Pi Recordings, 2017)

Guitarist Miles Okazaki is well known for his complex compositions and nimble playing, and he uses these attributes to the fullest on his newest album, where the songs are inspired by the trickster myths of many different cultures. Since these characters are well known for slight of hand and offering things that are not always what they seem, these stories make for fine raw material which can be used to create composed and improvised music that is thoughtful and challenging. On this album, Okazaki is joined by Craig Taborn on piano, Anthony Tidd on bass and Sean Rickman on drums. The music they make is complex yet accessible, and takes the listener on a journey through a wide range of music, opening with "Kudzu" where there is a subtle rhythm that all of the musicians use as a jumping off point with rippling piano and guitar leading the way, including a spirited piano solo from Taborn, before the group comes together to close out the piece. The music is faster and more urgent on "Box in a Box," and the combination of instruments allows for varying degrees of intricacy in the improvised section. They show a bold imagination, stretching into unexpected areas, with brightly percussive piano and thoughtful drumming cutting a path through the music. The leader's guitar is interwoven with the other instruments, snaking though in an impressive fashion. "Eating Earth" has a mysterious vibe to it, with guitar and piano opening the tune, and then bass and drums filling in some of the wide open space. Gentle piano chords frame the music, with big droplets of sound falling from the sky amidst subtle drumming. The music has a shape-shifting nature to it and that brings a unique approach to their improvising, ending with a haunting piano coda. There is a rapid sensibility to "Black Bolt," which is a short and fast piece of music that moves forward relentlessly, with sparks of guitar and thick bass and drums demonstrating that stylistic cliches are not hinderances to their music. Muscular and rippling percussion and guitar open "The West" and build a great deal of enthusiasm into the performance, never landing in one set groove, but providing propulsion for a wide range of possibilities and playing with an impressive devotion and dedication. "The Calendar" follows immediately, and develops over nine minutes that cover a ride range of territory, engaging the head and body and melding both into a very compelling improvisation through which the musicians express their thoughts with prickly guitar and bounding rhythm which adds clarity and drive. "Caduceus" is quietly complex, softly exploring the nature of their chosen music. Taborn then jumps in, infusing the music with a bright modern jazz improvisation that brings a freshness to the music like a cool breeze and allows the true spirit of the music to emerge. Stark accompanied guitar is at the center of the concluding "Borderland" developing a haunted and sly sound that perfectly fits the overall theme of the music. This is a very good album, and the idea of taking inspiration from myths and legends provides a rich tapestry for the musicians to explore beyond the conventional borders of jazz. Trickster - amazon.com

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Monday, April 03, 2017

Ivo Perelman - The Art of Perelman - Shipp Volume 4: Hyperion (Leo Records, 2017)

The fourth volume of this seven disc extravaganza features tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew in the company of their longtime compatriot, bassist Michael Bisio. They play ten relatively short completely improvised tracks, beginning with “Part 1” which shows a gentler side of the music with Perelman’s lush breathy saxophone met by soft piano and full bodied bass. The music is spacious and wide open, and the musicians are patient in letting it develop of its own accord. “Part 2” takes things up a notch with a stronger and faster collective improvisation. The music sounds tight and muscular, with deep throbbing bass supporting and engaging the high pitched saxophone and piano, and the proceedings develop a thrilling pace with squeals and squalls of saxophone leading the way. The three work together flawlessly to make the longest track on the album the most exciting, and it seems like they could have kept this level of inventiveness up forever. The forcefulness slows a bit for “Part 3” but the level of intensity and interaction remains high. There is a deep seated interplay, where the musicians don’t need to shout to be heard, but the conversation remains vital at any speed. Perelman breaks out for a powerful leading statement before dropping back so a softer tone for the conclusion of the piece. The soft and spacious approach to the music returns on “Part 4” with each musician staking out a location in the musical firmament. There is a well developed collective improvisation taking place with the power and volume waxing and waning in a dynamic fashion. Piano and bass rumble with increasing speed as Perelman’s torrential saxophone gives the music the utmost sense of excitement. “Part 6” mines ballad territory in a surprising fashion, with delicate consistency. Shipp’s spare droplets of piano open the selection, and continue on a beautiful solo piano spotlight with a delicate and understated touch. The full band is back on “Part 7” winding up like a mighty engine. Each of the musicians has a strong personalities of their own, but they use sense of this identity to come together for a formidable collective improvisation, spooling out a wide range of techniques and abilities in the service of the whole, setting the tone that permeates the entire album. “Part 8” has spare piano and bowed bass with arcs of saxophone overhead like so many shooting stars, creating a very haunting and emotional feel. More urgency is applied to “Part 9” with the growth of the potency maintained by all three musicians. Shipp applies a bright, ringing sound to his instrument as the music bounds forward with a spring in its step. Matthew Shipp is once again given a beautiful solo coda to the album on “Part 10” ending the one of the best albums in this series in an elegant and thoughtful fashion. Hyperion - amazon.com

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Sunday, April 02, 2017

William Parker and Stefano Scodanibbio - Bass Duo (Centering / Aum Fidelity, 2017)

William Parker has had an amazing career where he has climbed the ladder to become one of the finest bassists in modern jazz. But this is a rare format for him, a co-billed paring with a fellow virtuoso bass player on an album of very open ended duets. But the risk pays off beautifully and the music the two artists play is tightly focused and inspirational. The Italian bassist Stefano Scodanibbio (who has since passed away) had played and thrived in a wide variety musical situations, mostly classical, interpreting the music of a range of composers and counting the renowned avant-guardist John Cage as one of his biggest fans. Bringing these men together for an improvised performance was an inspired idea, and they met at the Udin Jazz Festival in Italy in 2008. Both Parker and Scodanibbio are composers and improvisers who have a deep sense of musical propriety and style, developing sources that are true, dynamic and personal. The two musicians develop a five part suite of prepared and improvised music that shows the length and breadth of what the upright bass can do in the right hands. They investigate an arena where classical music, jazz and free improvisation march proudly side by side. Bowing and plucking, slapping the bass to create percussive sounds and doing so in a sympathetic environment that allows each musician to display the best at what they do in a solo and duet format that maximizes the music whether it is subtle pulses or huge arcing drones that light up the sky around them. The music has a meditative nature that becomes the declaration of their own musical independence which transcends any genre and moves into the realm of pure artistry. This concert recording was prepared for release by William Parker on his own Centering Records imprint, which he reserves for his most personal projects, and is available through AUM Fidelity Records in a limited edition of 1,000 copies with excellent liner notes and photography included. If you are a fan of the bass or of creative improvised music, this should not be missed. Bass Duo - amazon.com

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