Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Amok Amor - We Know Not What We Do (Intakt Records, 2017)

Amok Amor is a fascinating band that began with Christian Lillinger on drums, Petter Eldh on bass, Wanja Slavin on saxophone and they are joined on this album by the always exciting Peter Evans on trumpet, to make them into a powerful quartet. Their music is improvisational, thoughtful and abstract but also accessible and filled with interesting themes and melodies. The blend of instruments and bright and bouncing, beginning with the track "Pulsar" which has a tight melodic statement, and excellent collective playing between the musicians and the some bold individual statements as well. There experimental nature keeps the music fresh and interesting, as evidenced on "Body Decline" where they play at a fast paced tempo, with some complicated interplay and a dynamic sensibility that makes the music very appealing. "Alan Shorter" is an abstract and well intentioned ballad, an improvised tribute to Wayne Shorter's brother, a trumpeter and free jazz pioneer. Actually a full quartet improvisation, "Trio Amok," features deeply ingrained possibilities that this music has and exposes the potential for this type of open ended music that develops at the whims of the musicians involved. The rattling and clanking of the drumming on "Brandy" takes the music in a new rhythmic direction, soon joined by deeply resonant bass, which allows the music to develop with slowly increasing drama until Evans enters with a pinched trumpet improvisation, echoing off of the powerful bass and drums. They are able to extrapolate off of this information and Slavin joins to make this a collective improvisation that is fresh and detailed, flexing the music in new and different ways. The finale of the album, "A Run Through the Neoliberalism," adds some very subtle  improvising with the bobbing and weaving brass and rock solid foundation of the bass and drums giving the proceedings a more melodic and textured feel. On this album, there are hints of the groundbreaking music of the original Ornette Coleman quartet and the wit of another group that Evans was associated with, Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Fans of the music of those two groups or inventive modern jazz as a whole will find a lot to enjoy on this album. We Know Not What We Do -

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Hank Mobley - To One So Sweet Stay That Way: Hank Mobley in Holland (Nederlands Jazz Archief, 2016)

This seventy-seven minute disc is comprised of three sessions that tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley was involved in during a short tour of The Netherlands in Spring 1968. Although the liner essay hints that drug addiction and prison time had taken their toll and he might be past his prime, the music found on this album is really quite good. Mobley might not play with the strength of his peak years, during the late fifties and early sixties, but time and hard won experience had made him into a wiser and cagier musician, one who picked his spots, and allowed the local musicians who supported him (including drummer Han Bennink on the first three tracks) to have their say as well. The album starts off in fine fashion, with Mobley placed as a soloist backed by guitar, piano, bass and drums. The opening performance "Summertime" is taken at a fast clip and Mobley sounds completely engaged with the music, as he does on two Sonny Rollins compositions, "Sonny's Time" and "Airegin." He seems to have a real affinity for Rollins's music: playing taut, memorable lines and swinging mightily. The following two tracks "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" and "Twenty-Four And More" place him in a rare big band setting, and sparks do fly on the second performance where the orchestra is able to frame a thoughtfully constructed saxophone solo. The second half of the album is made up of four lengthy performances of standards and blues backed by a swinging piano, bass and drums trio. This places Mobley into a setting where he can thrive, with a solid and knowledgeable group that has his back and understands when to stay out of the way and when to come forth and engage him, like on the driving "Blues By Five" where Mobley emphatically states the theme and then races to a fine solo statement with the trio in hot pursuit. There is a lush piano introduction to the ballad "Like Someone in Love" and the trio makes for a very tasteful partner to the soloist's patient and yearning saxophone. They wrap up with some storming stretched out improvisations on "Three Way Split" and the standard "Autumn Leaves" and each member of the band is allowed some space, but the lion's share goes to Mobley who makes the most of it, playing in grand style. There isn't a lot of live Hank Mobley available so this is a welcome release. He is still playing assertive and confident saxophone, and his Dutch peers are more than up to the task, making this a welcome attachment to his discography. In Holland -

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Alice Coltrane - The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (Luaka Bop, 2017)

Alice Coltrane is most well known to music fans as the wife of the legendary saxophonist John Coltrane, but Alice was a formidable multi-instrumentalist and composer in her own right. She held the piano chair in John Coltrane's band from 1965-1967 and also issued a wealth of solo material on Impulse! and Warner Brothers in the years following her husband's death. One thing that she shared in connection with John was a relentless spiritual yearning and this became the focus of the rest of her life, when she founded an ashram in California, took on an unpronounceable Sanskrit name and devoted herself to spiritual pursuits. But she never gave up music entirely which we are to be grateful for because she was a protean force on several instruments in addition to piano like the electric organ and harp, which gave her jazz based music such interesting and memorable flavor. From 1983 - 1995, Alice Coltrane published several private press cassettes of devotional music that received little coverage and were not well known to the outside world. This is where this collection comes in, bridging the gap in her musical evolution between her retreat from the wider musical world in the early eighties to her surprising reemergence in the jazz setting with the Translinear Light album and a few public concerts before she passed away in 2007. This album takes selections from those cassette only releases, remasters them and presents the music in a digital or vinyl format with photos and liner notes from Coltrane scholar Ashley Kahn. The music is quite unlike anything else we had heard from her, although the is a lengthy revisiting of one of her former spiritual jazz pieces, "Journey in Satchidananda." While matters of the soul were never far from her jazz work, this is another thing entirely, with much of the music consisting of chanting, singing including Alice's own vocals and hypnotic percussion. The instruments most associated with her are heard with washes of organ and shimmering harp on some pieces, but the most surprising aspect of the music was her embrace of synthesizers and the possibilities this technology offered for her devotional music. She uses the technology in a very unique way, framing the vocals, in conjunction with percussion and developing melodic lines. This isn't the cheesy 1980's synth you may be dreading, it's light years away from any pop sensibility, and it's closest analog may be some of the mellower works Sun Ra was creating with similar technology during this period. Overall this is an interesting look a well known musician that turned away from jazz to focus on her spiritual life and looked to make a contribution in both arenas. Listeners searching for music that is similar to her 1970's jazz albums will likely be flummoxed by the music on this collection, but embracing it with an open mind can lead to interesting results. World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Turiya Alice Coltrane -

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Interesting Links 5/24

A look at income inequality among jazz musicians.
Phil Freeman's roundup of recent jazz releases and some interesting thoughts about cut-price box sets.
Bandcamp interviews saxophonist and composer Oliver Lake.
New Music Box interviews Rudresh Mahanthappa.
The Observer interviews Nels Cline.
A lengthy NPR podcast about the new archival Alice Coltrane release.
Pop Matters on the real birth of the blues.
Matt Lavelle on the astrology of Albert Ayler, John Coltrane and touching base with Giuseppi Logan.
Bandcamp on Joshua Abrams work in jazz and soundtracks.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Wes Montgomery and the Wynton Kelly Trio - Smokin' in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse (Resonance Records, 2017)

Guitarist Wes Montgomery had joined in with the The Wynton Kelly Trio once before, creating one of the most famous jazz guitar albums, Smokin' at the Half Note in 1965. This sees a reprise of that effort with Montgomery sitting in with pianist Kelly, with Ron McClure on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums. This previously unreleased music was recorded for radio at the Penthouse Jazz Club in Seattle, WA on April 14 and 21, 1966. There is a mix of tracks with only the trio and with Montgomery sitting in, beginning with the trio tracks "There Is No Greater Love" and "Not a Tear." The former is a nice spirited performance that is fast paced and seriously swinging. There is a solid bass solo with subtle percussion along with rippling piano and trading of short sections between the piano and drums. The latter is a medium tempo piece with subtle bass and percussion anchoring the piano. The jump dramatically a little ways in, ramping up the pace quickly and mining a strong and deep vein of sound. Montgomery finally joins the group on "Jingles" which is a compact performance that begins with a tight, choppy theme before moving into a storming improvisation with the guitarist launching flinty shards of tone with fine trio accompaniment. They cruise in fine fashion, with a balanced and finely honed sound. The following tracks, "What's New" and "Blues in F" are also quartet performances, the first one developing a slower pace, with patient and thoughtful work from the trio along with probing guitar. Montgomery's dexterous and expressive playing is very impressive here and on the blues where they blast into a fast tempo with everybody playing at a high heat. This music is delightfully presented, buoyant and joyous with a group that just clicks, playing without pretense. Unfortunately, the music fades out before the conclusion. The trio is back in the spotlight for "Sir John" and "If You Could See Me Now" with the opening track becoming nicely stretched out with the musicians developing a deep pocket with elastic bass and grooving piano and drums. McClure is featured with a solo and then the closing track, a showbiz standard that gets a lush and ornamental opening, becoming an elegant ballad with brushes and gently spacious playing. Montgomery is featured on the final three tracks of this album, beginning with "West Coast Blues" which dives straight into his familiar melody, and then breaks out into a colorful quartet improvisation. They play thick slabs of music, solid and substantial stuff that is very exciting. "O Morro Não Tem Vez" and "Oleo" wrap things up with the Jobim tune given some nice rhythmic accents by Cobb and develops a nice bossa feel for guitar and percussion. The music is relaxed yet finely crafted with the guitarist's complete command of his instrument on full display. Finally they rip into the Sonny Rollins composition with some epic guitar chased by the roiling trio... only to have the music fade out infuriatingly after just two minutes. Such were the whims of radio recording during that era, but it leaves you wondering what might have been. Smokin' In Seattle: Live At The Penthouse -

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Catching up with Paal Nilssen-Love

Paal Nilssen-Love and Peter Brotzmann - Levontin 7 Tel Aviv 30th March 2015 (Catalytic Sound, 2017) The great Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love has played on many occasions with the legendary German reed instrument master Peter Brotzmann, and this is an excellent entry into the annals of their partnership. Taking off at an appropriately blistering pace with Brotzmann's scalding tenor saxophone clearing a path like a bulldozer, the music barrels forward relentlessly. Nilsson-Love's drums roll in a deeply rhythmic manner, crashing and throbbing, keeping the music grounded and providing even further momentum for the proceedings. This album is one long spontaneous improvisation, and the musicians are able to flex the sense of time and space, with Brotzmann moving through the gamut of instruments he uses which provides a wider range of hues and textures for their performance and the drummer meets him every step of the way, and it is the interaction that they develop that is the most special part of the music, and the two men are egoless in placing the music before themselves and develop a startling and vibrant performance. Bandcamp

Paal Nilssen-Love, Claude Deppa and Peter Brotzmann - Cafe Oto London 9th April 2013 (Catalytic Sound, 2017) Nilssen-Love and Brotzmann are joined by trumpeter Claude Deppa and this trio will carry their improvisations in a different way than on the previous album. Deppa has a more fragile and lighter approach to his instrument that makes him a perfect foil for the other two musicians who have a very strong and powerful manner of playing. Instead of one lengthy performance, the trio's collective improvisation is broken into four sections, with the first one being the longest, over twenty minutes in length, where the group gets right down to business with deep and penetrating music that is powerful and fully present. There is a dynamic downshift after that with the music developing in open space, before building back up to a very exciting and fast paced conclusion that wraps the performance up nicely. Bandcamp

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Van Morrison - The Authorized Bang Collection (Sony Legacy, 2017)

The story of Van Morrison's earliest solo recordings is a fascinating one. Bert Berns, a hustler, songwriter and record producer for his own Bang Records brought Morrison to the United States to record after his tumultuous tenure fronting the Belfast based rhythm and blues band Them. The poppiest material of Morrison's career, the Bang recordings encompassed his love of blues and soul, and the music they recorded had a claustrophobic small band feel, occasionally using female background singers in a call and response format. "Brown Eyed Girl" is the song that everyone remembers, it's a masterpiece of giddy pop music that was a top ten American hit during the summer of 1967. That wasn't the only excellent piece of music recorded at these sessions, and the first disc on the collection is the strongest, comprising the master recordings for these sessions. The harrowing song "T.B. Sheets" about trying to deal with a friend who is dying from tuberculosis, which stretches out to over nine minutes and an early version of his iconic songs "Beside You" and "Madame George" show the path he would take into his career to come. "Midnight Special" is a traditional folk song that was associated with the great songster Lead Belly, who was a formative influence in Morrison's youth, and here they move into a joyous setting with the background singers and tight band pushing the music forward relentlessly. Experiments with a Latin tinge on "Spanish Rose" and the chunky rhythm of "Chick a Boom" show that Morrison and Berns were willing to try a wide range of music in search of another hit. Disc two takes a deeper dive into these sessions, which place alternate takes of the master recordings and use snippets of studio chatter to frame the songs. Some of the tracks like alternate take of "T.B. Sheets" are quite different, and the disc ends with several takes of "Brown Eyed Girl" showing how the hit was painstakingly put together. The third disc is the most controversial, thirty one no-effort contractual obligation songs recorded for Berns's widow after his sudden death and Morrison was desperate to escape the Bang contract to move to Warner Borthers. Morrison felt he was being exploited and turned in songs like "Blowin' Your Nose" and "The Big Royalty Check" to fulfill his contract and be sure there was nothing that could be released for profit. The material has been bootlegged over the years, but this is the first time it has been legitimately released. For the serious fan of Morrison's work, this is an excellent collection and highly recommended, but for the less devoted, the Bang Masters album remains in print. The Authorized Bang Collection -

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Jon Irabagon - Axis (Rune Grammofon, 2017)

Saxophonist Jon Irabagon is joined by guitarist John Hegre and drummer Nils Are Drønen, on a very well played and exciting album that was  recorded on two separate locations in 2014 and 2015. The album consists of two long tracks that move between quieter melodic passages and and flat out free jazz. The first half of the opening track "Berlin" is long and spacey, but jumps startlingly after the nine minute mark to a full blowout of barreling drums, spirited saxophone and heavy guitar. The music becomes an absolutely thrilling batten down the hatches type of collective improvisation, where everybody playing is full bore sounding like a force of nature with nothing held back. The concluding track "Fukuoka" takes its time as well, beginning with probing saxophone popping and honking along with tempered guitar, looking for an opening into the music along with skittish percussion which pushes ahead and the music slowly gains momentum. The proceedings develop an imposing strength, which is unpredictable and forward thinking. Long tones of saxophone, washes of guitar and fractured percussion, sneer with a sense of danger and malice as the volume rises on torrents of stark saxophone and drums with flinty guitar moving in between. They step up to full howl and the effect is very impressive. The band surges toward a mighty finish playing a lights out collective improvisation that is nearly frightening in its withering intensity. Axis -

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Peter Brotzmann / Heather Leigh - Sex Tape (Trost, 2017)

The arresting title and Peter Brotzmann's eye-popping artwork are matched by this unique recording of steel guitarist Heather Leigh and Brotzmann using his full battery of instruments including tenor and alto saxophones, tarogato, and b-flat clarinet. This is one continuous forty eight minute performance that was recorded live at the Unlimited festival, in Wels 2016. It is a fascinating recording, with Leigh's instrument light years away from the from its normal usage in country and roots music, because she uses it to develop a unique and otherworldly drone, a quavering sound that can at times seem fragile and haunted, but then can lash out with an unexpected and stinging wrath. Brotzmann sounds deeply inspired in this setting, setting the pace right away with his gruff saxophones blasting away with steely controlled power that is very strong, but never overwhelms his playing partner. But when he moves to the clarinet and especially the exotic tarogato the music takes on a very special feeling with the odd pitches and timbres that these two musicians explore with their respective instruments makes for a very memorable interaction. The music moves organically throughout the performance with the improvisation developing in both duet interactions and solo spots for both musicians. This was a fascinating album, the improvisation that is formed by these two musicians is a testament to the transformative power of music, and the notion that all instruments are compatible with one another provided they are in the right hands. Leigh, the daughter of a coal miner and Brotzmann, who grew up in the midst of the wreckage of post-war Germany seek and find common ground in the act of improvisation, creating a memorable album in the process. Sex Tape -

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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Francois Carrier / Rafal Mazur / Michel Lambert - Oneness (FMR Records, 2017)

The music on this impressive album was created spontaneously in the moment by Francois Carrier on alto saxophone and Chinese oboe, Rafal Mazur on acoustic bass guitar and Michel Lambert on drums, and was recorded live in Krakow in 2015. "Oneness" opens the album with breathy saxophone and subtle bass and drums probing the space and confidently attacking the silence. The music is very well recorded and it captures the alluring tone of the acoustic bass guitar and the dynamic tension it creates with the other instruments as the music moves forward, developing an eloquent collective improvisation at a medium up pace. The bass and drums drill down into the music, with raw and taut saxophone engaging them in a fierce meeting. The exotic sound of Carrier's oboe introduces "Flow" which squeaks and swirls around with cymbals and bass fluttering around with a deep sense of adventure. He moves back to saxophone as the performance progresses, getting down to business in an exciting fashion with an intense three way improvisation, building to a fast and frenetic conclusion of raw musical power. "Observations" has a quieter beginning, spacious with choppy drums and insistent bass helping the music gain steam building to a fortress of sound, buoying the music and lifting the sound further with exciting saxophone astride thick bass and rattling drums. Bass and drums provide a firm foundation as the startling and fascinating sound of the oboe crashes in. Swapping to saxophone, Carrier leads the band to a furious section before throttling back to an airy conclusion. The trio develops a long and dynamic improvisation on "Uplifting," coming out of the gate fast and hard. Thick bass and drums flow as the saxophone takes flight to soar. There is exciting saxophone wailing over potent rhythm in an intricate improvisation. Raucous patterns and raw rending saxophone of unrelenting power continue, then the music slows to a spacious section of elastic bass and skittish percussion. The lull doesn't last long and soon the trio is in full flight once again, dashing forward at a breakneck pace. The album is concluded by "The Urgency of Now" which is another lengthy track that begins patiently, building music infused with humility and humanity and developing an architecturally sound improvisation. The music is lean and tough, with saxophone shrieking in an ecstatic manner in the company of elastic bass and roaring drums. They incorporate patches of oboe, that startling sound, and then conclude in a profoundly remarkable manner. Oneness -

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Monday, May 08, 2017

Cuong Vu 4tet - Ballet (RareNoise, 2017)

After a successful collaboration with Pat Metheny last year, trumpeter Cuong Vu meets up with another notable guitarist, Bill Frisell, in a tribute to the compositions of composer and arranger Michael Gibbs. They are joined on this live album by Luke Bergman on bass and Ted Poor on drums and the album begins with "Ballet," which shows the leader playing along with spare guitar and brushed percussion in a quiet and mysterious fashion. They move through space carefully, with Frisell taking a very jazzy guitar solo supported by thick bass and swirling and slashing brushes. Vu's brass returns and weaves through the thicket, developing a potent current with a solid full band improvisation punctuated by stabs of guitar and rattling bass and drums. "Feelings and Things" sees the band taking a lush ballad approach, with bright trumpet providing rays of light, building in a majestic fashion with subtle brushes in accompaniment. Light and nimble percussion sets the stage for "Blue Comedy" with the band joining together to state the jaunty melody. There's a swinging section for guitar, bass and drums which is played with a cunning wit. Punchy trumpet pokes through with drums laying out briefly and develops a very impressive solo feature with the rhythm team in tight support. Guitar, growling trumpet and light percussion are hallmarks of "And on the Third Day" which is spacious with a hint of the unknown keeping the music fresh and interesting. The trumpet slowly rises to shine as the volume of the music increases which creates a muscular collective improvisation, especially when Frisell slips the leash and bursts out with beams of laser sharp electric guitar which is full of energy. The quartet comes together for a strong improvisation and then downshifts to a controlled landing. The album concludes with "Sweet Rain" with brushes and patient guitar and bass playing in a delicate manner with graceful horn playing probing and casting glances and they finish the album playing this gentle ballad in a restrained and dignified manner. This album worked quite well, and the Gibbs compositions were the perfect food for this band to feed on. The band plays the music in a thoughtful manner that allows each of them to shine while also supporting one another. Ballet -

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Sunday, May 07, 2017

Alan Holdsworth - Blues for Tony (MoonJune Records, 2016)

Guitarist Alan Holdsworth passed away recently after a lengthy career playing progressive rock and jazz fusion. He was highly regarded by his peers and left a lengthy discography including this live album that is dedicated to the legendary jazz drummer Tony Williams in whose Lifetime band he played during the 1970's. Holdsworth is accompanied on this album by Alan Pasqua on keyboards, Jimmy Haslip on bass guitar and Chad Wackerman on drums. The music was recorded live during their 2007 tour and shows that they were a confident and thoughtful group, willing to explore the boundaries of the intersection of jazz and rock music. The lengthy title track "Blues For Tony" opens the album with the music blazing a fast trail of lightning fast guitar playing and pastel tones of the electric keyboards. Wackerman is in the hot seat on a dedication to the drum great, but he acquits himself very well, playing complex rhythms with grace and humility. The musicians are able to play at high speed with a sense of tightness and unity that is very impressive. On the Holdsworth original "Fred" they are able to step out for confident solo statements and also play in formation in ways that are exciting but resist any unnecessary grandeur or showing off. "Red Alert" is particularly interesting as the group settled into a funky fusion groove that recalls Miles Davis's eighties band, and allows the bass and drum unit to really dig into the music while the leader shoots sparks of fiery electric guitar framed by washes of electric keyboard, a tactic they also develop on the exciting "Pud Wud" which features snarling guitar solos and powerful playing from the full band as a whole. It's not all explosive music and they lower the intensity on "San Michelle" which receives a beautiful solo acoustic piano introduction from Pasqua that is introspective and quiet before he moves back to electric keyboards as the rest of the band joins in and transforms the music into a neon toned fusion excursion with Holdsworth building his guitar solo gradually as the music picks up pace. He seems to play effortlessly, developing a statement that becomes more strident, illuminating the improvisational possibilities that are inherent in the music. This is a lengthy album that works quite well and would be enjoyed by fans of progressive rock and jazz fusion. It serves as a fine memorial for Holdsworth, and a nod to his time playing with the great Tony Williams. Blues for Tony -

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Saturday, May 06, 2017

Chris Potter - The Dreamer is the Dream (ECM, 2017)

Chris Potter's latest album had a long gestation period, concluding at New York City’s Avatar Studios, after several days of recording in Switzerland and a long string of live concerts before that. This is a new acoustic quartet that features Potter on tenor and soprano saxophones plus bass clarinet, David Virelles on piano and keyboards, Joe Martin on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums and percussion. "Heart In Hand" opens the album with the focus on majestic and patient tenor saxophone and piano, supported by spare bass and drums. The percussion sound becomes a complex rhythm in combination with piano with jaunty tenor saxophone on "Illimba." The music is upbeat and infectious with a touch of Sonny Rollins in the leaping and loping tenor saxophone solo. After a fine piano, bass and drums interlude there is a snappy and bright drum solo. "The Dreamer Is The Dream" has Potter's reed echoing in silence, getting a distinctive sound from his bass clarinet, then the band joins in on a quiet ballad performance. There is a very nice bass solo in open space, which is impeccably played. Potter's strident horn moves in with quiet authority leading the group to the powerful conclusion. Sampled sound and subtly played percussion and chimes provide an intriguing opening for "Memory and Desire." Quiet yearning soprano saxophone moves in a stealthy manner, patiently developing the melody, while muted tones of piano and gentle percussion glisten. There is a feeling of warmth to the performance, which builds gradually to a feature of saxophone and dancing cymbals, frolicking through the music. "Yasodhara" has tenor saxophone and complex rhythm picking up speed, as the full quartet comes into bloom. Potter's thick and resonant saxophone receives delicate framing from rhythm trio. The group develops a fine free spirited improvisation which brings a sense of joy in the act of playing. There is a rippling interlude for piano, bass and drums, before the leader's saxophone returns building back up carefully, then letting loose with a flurry of activity.  Finally, "Sonic Anomaly" allows the piano, bass and drums unit to set the stage before the rock solid tenor saxophone enters, confidently striding forward. Rhythmic accompaniment and choppy saxophone phrases make for an appealing performance and overall atmosphere. This was a very successful recording, where the band were able to develop their sound, pushing past all challenges and creating a pleasant and thoughtful album. The Dreamer Is the Dream -

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Thursday, May 04, 2017

John O'Gallagher Trio - Live In Brooklyn (Whirlwind, 2017)

Saxophonist John O'Gallager is joined by Johannes Weidenmueller on bass and Mark Ferber on drums, on this taut, well played album of mainstream jazz recorded live at Seeds::Brooklyn. The music is muscular and deeply felt, beginning with the opening tracks "Prime" and "Extralogical Railman" which begin with some mellow bass and drums giving the music a spacious and open feeling, as they probe the space around them. The drums begin to roll accompanied by weaving saxophone patiently allowing the music to develop to a louder intensity with a strong and immediate performance. This is a long sequence that unfolds gracefully with a dramatic downshift to music of quiet longing with a subtle bass solo. The drums and saxophone build back in, upgrading the volume and the speed of the improvisation, with ripe drumming underneath moving into a fine conclusion. "Credulous Intro" has solo saxophone painting the air with broad strokes before "Credulous" fully takes flight, opening into a ballad with gentle brushes and bass joining the leader's saxophone. Room opens for a supple bass solo with sympathetic percussion which are then joined by peals of saxophone cutting through open space, creating arcs of sound that grow in strength. The music increases in volume, ramping up from ballad to a strident trio section then to a powerful all-out improvisation with a very impressive drum solo breaking out and building a tight rhythm. There is a medium tempo sensibility to "Blood Ties" with O'Gallager channeling bebop in a bright and powerful solo amidst solid bass and drums. The trio develops an exciting level of intensity and interplay with a strong drum solo and fine collective finish. "Nothing to It" also establishes a comfortable medium tempo, moving ahead in leaps and bounds using their dynamism, bootstrapping into into fine solid mainstream jazz with rippling and muscular playing, and incorporating a nice bass solo with tapped percussion. The concluding track "The Honeycomb" strides forward confidently, developing a fast pace, building nimble, exciting and powerful stuff that finishes with a roaring climax to the improvisation, making a thrilling sendoff to a fine recording. Live in Brooklyn -

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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Rodrigo Amado / Goncalo Almeida / Marco Franco - The Attic (NoBusiness Records, 2017)

This is a stellar freely improvised session featuring Rodrigo Amado on tenor saxophone, Goncalo Almeida on bass and Marco Franco on drums, recorded live in Portugal in December of 2015. "Shadow" opens the album with scraping bowed bass that is recorded beautifully, giving the sound a physical immediacy and presence. After the epic bowed bass opening, Amado's raw, rending saxophone and Franco's measured percussion enter, imposing their power upon the proceedings, burning a path through everything before them like a flaming sword and developing a strong and supple improvisation, flexing and adjusting as the music demands, creating a towering collective improvisation among equals. "Hole" and "Spring" develop deep dark growls of saxophone and howling long breaths of scaling air. Sharp percussion and plucked bass meet shorter bursts of saxophone, building a biting improvisation that surges forward. The muscular playing drives through and then open space emerges for a change of pace, with deep elastic bass and scattered percussion. Slightly softer and reverent sounding saxophone glides in, merging carefully with the other two instruments. Their improvisation grows organically encompassing the sound space by playing with wit and energy, which builds deeper as the performance progresses and choppy saxophone with drums bob and weaving in tandem. The music is further buoyed by furiously bowed bass and develops a swirling intensity. The lengthy centerpiece "Board" begins with smears of bowed bass, which is eventually met with skittish percussion. Raw taut saxophone joins the fray as the volume and intensity of the music increases. The group develops a powerful collective improvisation, drawing on a wealth of knowledge in pursuit of pure sound and vision. This sixteen minute plus improvisation is very impressive and continually evolving, finally into a filling-rattling drum solo with ominous bass in support. The concluding track, "Nail," is an absolute blast, with everyone playing their hearts out at full speed. The music surges forward like an unstoppable wave, gathering energy as it rolls on. There is soaring saxophone and vicious drumming yoked together with superb bass playing. Savage in its intensity, it is an absolutely thrilling ending to a terrific recording, one of the finest of the year to date. The Attic - No Business Records.

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Monday, May 01, 2017

Eve Risser / Benjamin Duboc / Edward Perraud - En Corps Generation (Dark Tree, 2017)

This was a very interesting two-part live improvised session with Eve Risser on piano, Benjamin Duboc on bass and Edward Perraud on drums. The music is very spacious and the musicians use everything at their disposal to interact with one another and create some very interesting sounds. "Des Corps" is the first track on the album, and it is a very long collective improvisation, over thirty-seven minutes in length. The trio is playing at a very high level throughout the performance, with Risser making use of the length and breadth of the piano, playing in the standard manner and using extended techniques to increase the music making opportunities available to her. It is interesting to listen to the bass and drums interface with the piano, with bowing and scraping and fractured beats and rhythm allowing the music to develop organically, with the interaction between the instrumentalists coming in an unforced and original manner. Things get even more interesting on the concluding track, "Des Âmes" where the music grows darker and much more intense. The piano, bass and drums develop a storming collective improvisation which incorporates some slashing drumming, arcing and buoying bass playing and thunderous squalls of notes and chords from the piano. The trio really goes for broke here, complementing each other very well, and allowing the music to develop as a complex and multi-layered thing that nearly takes on a life of its own, leading to some exuberant and aggressive interplay between piano and drums with the bass riding point. The three players encourage one another on to greater exploratory heights with strong musical technique on ready display. The music develops various hues throughout the performance with dark and ominous sounds giving way to rays of sunlight as the improvisations develop and the musicians explore a wide open soundscape, culminating with a lengthy round of well deserved applause from the audience. This was an enjoyable and very well played album, and should be of particular interest to fans of European free improvisation. En Corps Generation - Dark Tree Records.

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