Monday, April 06, 2020

Luís Lopes Humanization 4tet - Believe, Believe (Clean Feed, 2020)

Luís Lopes Humanization 4tet is an exhilarating band featuring the leader on electric guitar, Rodrigo Amado on tenor saxophone, Aaron Gonzalez on bass and Stefan Gonzalez on drums. Taking jazz and boosting it with the concentrated energy of punk and metal, they come out with a challenging and exciting piece of work. "Eddie Harris - Tranquilidad Alborotadora" has some raw and funky soulful saxophone, perfect for its dedicatee, with the band finding a groove and then exploding it into righteous improvisatory action. The collective improvisation is fast and fresh with excellent saxophone playing leading the charge, and then the music transitions to the other part of the performance with pointed guitar and fine drumming. The saxophone becomes much freer, loose from the blues grounding and developing a raw and fierce tone, and Lopes' guitar branches out on a powerful feature that lights up the music with electrical splendor. There is more open space on "Replicate, Pt. 1" which is gradually filled by the instrumentalists creating, in short order, a fast and vibrant improvisation with short choppy strokes that cascade and create a flow in a manner that the listener is swept up in. Fast pointillist notes of guitar and very rapid slashing drums meet sax and bass and then gradually ease out. "She" has a nice melody for sax and guitar with beefy bass and drums, gradually moving from blustery post bop into more daredevil free expression. Swirling phasing guitar adds excellent atmosphere as Amado digs in his feet and wails and the drums drive even harder. This group is very tight and focused no matter how far out they go as evidenced by Lopes scalding guitar solo that threatens to peel paint from the walls and is met by an equally ferocious saxophone and drum cacophony, before returning to the innocuous melody. Drums set the table for soaring saxophone and guitar on "Brainlust Distraction" with fast and knotty tenor saxophone playing which is deployed to very good effect as guitar and drums ride hard along side, and Amado is truly in his element making every breath count. Lopes leads the bass and drums unit to an equally fine trio section, playing complex and powerful music. Continuing on from the earlier track, "Replicate, Pt. 2" has a short theme that is soon made into a blistering improvisation, very free and open sounding, with all of the musicians creating and sharing within this space, weaving and flowing dynamically as the music develops of its own accord. This was an excellent record with the band perfectly melding modern and free jazz with just the right amount of thematic material. They play brilliantly as a group, and just as well as soloists, making for a consistently interesting and exciting album. Believe, Believe -

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Saturday, April 04, 2020

Vandermark / Drake / Trovalusci / Ceccarelli - Open Border (Audiographic, 2020)

Open Border is a beautiful, truly collaborative project between Ken Vandermark on reed instruments, Luigi Ceccarelli on electronics, Hamid Drake on drums and Gianni Trovalusci on flutes. The music was recorded by Ceccarelli live at the Forlí Open Music Festival in October of 2018, and captures a gracefully flowing and exploratory performance. Musicians weave in and out of the sound tapestry, shifting from solo to full quartet sections, as the improvisations evolve from melodic to abstract freedom. There is only freely improvised track, "Open Border" which emerges slowly as the music has pops and clicks like a transmission from a far off world, Vandermark's clarinet meeting electronics and fluttering in open space, gradually gathering intensity with percussion and piercing flute entering the frame. Drake's masterful fractured free drumming and Vandermark's caustic clarinet further slip the boundaries, with sparse electronics adding to the action. Drake's solo drumming reverberates through the theater, as Trovalusci joins him on flute providing an ethereal sound amid swirls of electronic noise building an alien soundscape. The instruments can create a alarming buzzing motif, then change just as rapidly into with popping and chattering reeds in a nervous, yet fascinating section. Vandermark moves to tenor saxophone for powerful bursts of loud and stark playing, backed by Drake's excellent drumming, and swirls of electronic sound, creating a raw and vibrant section of the overall performance, and diving into an excellent collective improvisation with flute soaring and flowing amid the other instruments. Interplay between Drake and Vandermark stellar as always, as is the light and fluid section for flute and electronic sound, and graceful spoken vocalization leading everyone to come together for a elegant and memorable conclusion. This was a unique and very enjoyable album, taking three stellar instrumentalists and adding Ceccarelli to create electronic sound and process the other band members playing in real time creates a vibrant and rich performance that continuously moves in dynamic and spontaneous ways. Open Border - Audiographic Records Bandcamp

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Thursday, April 02, 2020

Large Unit - EthioBraz (PNL Records, 2019)

Combining elements of freewheeling avant-garde jazz improvisation with aspects of Brazilian and Ethiopian music with a dash of raucous rock and roll and dance, drummer and producer Paal Nilssen-Love has created an extraordinary multi-ethnic mashup that works seamlessly to create joyous and celebratory music. The combination of strong vocals delivering what sounds like both an incantation and an invitation to the swirling and scouring musical soundscape; and the music that was being developed with uniquely powerful rhythmic propulsion from Nilssen-Love and other members of the band that pushed the music faster and faster until the band reaches the middle of their performance. They are completely locked in with one another on the tracks "Shellele" and "Nargi" where the deep and passionate vocals meet the equally ripe and highly concentrated instrumental performance, with percolating rhythm, slashing guitar interjections, and glaring horns all coming together as the band reaches critical mass and achieves liftoff in an extraordinary fashion. This is fusion music of the truest form, where twenty-two musicians and dancers bring everything they have into the anchoring track, "Gonder," that develops over ten minutes of vocals and music becoming a whirling dervish of sound which have a wide range of hues and colors that give the performance a kaleidoscopic sound that encompasses music from around the world and brings it together into one pure gleaming sound. Paal Nilssen-Love worked for several years to bring this huge group together, touring Brazil and Ethiopia, making contacts, writing music for this special version of the Large Unit that invoked these influences, successfully melding them with the improvisation rich nature of the Large Unit's core sound. EthioBraz -

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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Oded Tzur - Here Be Dragons (ECM, 2020)

Tenor saxophonist Oded Tzur's studies of Indian music and raga have influenced the tone and approach he has developed on his instrument. Long round melodic lines of sound are aided by the presence of an excellent band, consisting of Nitai Hershkovits on piano, Petros Klampanis on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums, and the group develops a well articulated sense of narrative flow. "Here Be Dragons" opens the album in a very mellow and spacious fashion, with a gradual buildup by the group and release to a fine bass solo with slight piano comping. Tzur develops long and emotionally longing lines of saxophone, breathy and gentle for the remainder of the track. Soft saxophone and piano with brushed percussion in open space lay the foundation for "To Hold Your Hand." Deft brushwork with restrained bass and piano are hallmarks of the rhythm section feature. Soft saxophone returns, weaving around the other instruments, creating an improvisation for the full group as the performance develops further. "20 Years" continues the meditative groove, with slow wafting sounds of saxophone and light touch piano developing at a glacial pace, building an elegiac feeling, with gentle droplets of piano and brushed drums. Soft and lilting saxophone reenters wafting above the rhythm team, gradually concluding with a mild and tender manner. The flow of the album is broken by three brief solo features, "Miniature 1, 2 and 3" short pieces for piano, bass and saxophone respectively. "The Dream" comes as a surprise,with the full band playing at a much more robust clip and a greater sense of urgency. Rippling piano playing along with forward moving bass and drums pushes ahead as the leader lays out. Tzur returns to engage with the bass and drums at a speed that is much more appealing. The band finishes the album with a version of the standard "Can't Help Falling in Love" which returns to the slow and quiet pace of their earlier performances. This performance is very melodic with the slow and stately tempo saxophone and piano are featured, melody is repeated over and over to the end. Here Be Dragons

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft, Nels Cline - Music From The Early 21st Century (RareNoise, 2020)

The collective trio made up of veteran musical explorers Bobby Previte on drums, Jamie Saft on Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes and MiniMoog and Nels Cline on electric guitar and effects create an album of exceptional excitement where there are truly no boundaries. Recorded live during a short US tour, the music is for the most part freely improvised, but it goes beyond on the standard free improv model to draw on King Crimson like progressive rock and early seventies dark funk of Miles Davis's fusion combining them and then moving any direction they choose. "Photobomb" is vibrant with electronic sounds and drums creating an excellent sound world right off the bat, and then driving that further with keyboards, strong guitar and heavy drums. Slashing electronics creates a wild post/prog rock/fusion musical environment that is very impressive and fun to listen to with devastating guitar and drums buoyed by startling keyboard work. The music slows gradually and moves into "Paywall" which initially has a more spacious sensibility. The organ then begins to grind and the drums dig in for leverage as the track makes its move, with shards of guitar slashing across, creating a dark and ominous sounding performance. By the middle of the track things are dark and gritty with Cline carving out savage guitar lines amid over-driven keyboards and muscular drumming, and they bring it together into an absolutely savage improvisation. "Occession" opens with an oscillating drone varying in pitch, in a Krautrock-ish manner, with drums and guitar entering in as the piece begins to unfold. Massive smears and squalls of sound envelop the musicians, and the trio comes together into one massive forward moving all encompassing collective improvisation with bolts of guitar, slashing cymbals and massive undulating waves of keyboard, leading to an epic electric freakout with drums riding point. There are so much going on within each performance on the album, with the multitude of textures and hues that that Saft and Cline are able to coax from their instruments and the potent and complex rhythms that Previte meets them with, that their interaction within the music is a treat to hear. Music From The Early 21st Century -

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Irreversible Entanglements - Who Sent You? (International Anthem, 2020)

Irreversible Entanglements burst on the scene a few years ago with a fierce album of spiritual jazz that sounded like the best of the 1960's "new thing" time warped into the present. This album continues in that vein with impressive instrumental playing an thoughtful lyrics from this powerhouse band: Camae Ayewa on vocals and songwriting, Keir Neuringer on saxophone and percussion, Aquiles Navarro on trumpet and percussion, Luke Stewart on bass and percussion and Tcheser Holmes on drums and congas. "The Code Noir / Amina" opens the album with thick bass and horn riffs, clearing the way for the vocalist to enter. She speaks a bold declaration of the rights of all people, true civil rights as the music frames the her like a cloak, both urging her on and protecting her. Horns flare, drums boom, and Stewart's bass weaves everything together. The medley "Who Sent You - Ritual" opens fast with a crushing intro of horns and drums at maximum volume, before fading a bit to allow the vocalist move to room. Ayewa sounds great, demanding, angry, with the music fierce and free, she meets it with paranoid yet justified lyrics, and storming improvisation meets the imploring vocals head on. Squalling free jazz gradual trumpet and drums long fade, adding more abstract lyrics, with hand percussion and saxophone to close out this epic piece. "No Mas"shows the horns phased and building to a memorable theme, followed by the elastic bass and drums diving in, forming and absolutely killing full band section, where the bass is just epic. The vocals are upbeat, backed by brash trumpet, soaring as the music and lyrics become bold and defiant.There is a subtle fast rhythm on "Blues Ideology" with storytelling around a tight groove that is upbeat, using fast saxophones to swirl around her commentary pushing the narrative faster. Slagging those at the top as the band rages, speaking truth to power. The quiet "Bread Out of Stone" concludes the album with bass and percussion framing a light groove, clanking percussion taut bass providing the backdrop for a narrative of time and space before a gradual fade out. Who Sent You? -

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Curt Sydnor - Deep End Shallow (Out of Your Head Records, 2020)

Keyboardist and composer Curt Sydnor was fascinated by the breadth of talent that was concentrated in Brooklyn in the mid Twenty-Teens. He developed this album as a fantasia, presenting a melange of all of the sounds and textures of the different styles and music scenes that a working musician would have experienced while living in that borough around 2016. Bringing together a talented and open minded band featuring Sydnor on keyboards and vocals, Caroline Davis on saxophone, Greg Saunier on drums and Aaron Dugan on guitar with some guests sitting in on various tracks. You see how wide ranging and adventurous the group is during the lengthy sections of bright progressive rock and jazz fusion influenced elements that carry a multitude of rhythms which keep the music moving briskly and then suddenly everything stops for an acoustic piano solo, "Fieldgaze Variations." Beginning in an elegiac fashion, then turning exploratory, Sydnor moves all about the keyboard in search of melody and beauty, building a sense of classical music to the music which unfolds like a recital. Then "Deep End Shallow" turns back into monster electro-jazz rhythm jam, with smears of keyboard and crushing drums. Davis's horn adds a freer more avant edge as disconnected voices are added to the thick mix. "Well of Stares" concludes the album with a base of funky avant techno electronic that allows the music to ebb and flow dynamically adding long drones to use as texture and gradually conclude. This album worked very well, the musicians are deeply talented in their ability to play in different genres and juggling multiple rhythms and manners of playing. The compositions were well designed and thoughtful, bringing the listener back to an important time in the composers life and career, while playing and improvising music that is completely alive and in the moment. Deep End Shallow -

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