Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Linda Fredriksson – Juniper (We Jazz, 2021)

Multi-instrumentalist Linda Fredriksson has been fine tooling the songs on this album over a number of years and the dedication their craft shows. Fredriksson plays saxes and various instruments with Tuomo Prättälä on keyboards, Minna Koivisto on electroincs, Olavi Louhivuori on drums, and Mikael Saastamoinen on bass and Matti Bye on piano. "Neon Light [And The Sky Was Trans]" opens the album with patient tones of pastel saxophone, building longer phrases, along side electronic shimmer. The drums build in much later, sounding hollow and muted, as sharper sounds alter the atmosphere, bringing things into focus, using squeals of saxophone amid the placid backdrop. Grooving bass and drums open "Juniper" followed by dark hued restrained saxophone, and subtle riffing electronic instruments which frame the saxophone which is developing one memorable solo, with an early Sun Ra vibe present on this track. "Nana – Tepalle" has a reflective opening with the saxophone probing the available as the synth bubbles, creating a picture, an auditory landscape. Halfway through the track, the tempo jumps, the beat becomes much faster, drums enter and the saxophone pours on energy to keep pace, creating a majestic full band flight. Soft saxophones with stringed instrument create a simple but alluring sound on "Pinetree Song." The music becomes more complex as sounds are gradually added, electronics, bass and drums. Piano with bass and drums play quietly leading to a thoughtful finish. "Transit In The Softest Forest, Walking, Sad, No More Sad, Leaving" uses saxophone in space near to insistent electronic beats, patiently developing low tones saxophone, clanking percussion breaking up the beat, with Fredriksson moving gracefully moving over uneven ground. "Lempilauluni" presents a guitar interlude with wordless vocals, scatting as swirls of electronics add further texture and acoustic bass supports. The scene shifts when saxophone and drums enter, taking the performance in a different but equally melodic direction. Finally "Clea" melds an electronic pulse to soft late night saxophone, and the music develops in a mysterious manner with synth waves, languid saxophone and subtle percussion. There is a dramatic shift and quick filigrees of ascending saxophone and harp like synth, build to a more grand and encompassing sensation, keeping the dynamic tension palpable. This was a very well played album with an interesting electro-acoustic take on modern jazz. As I was listening, I kept thinking back to early Sun Ra records with Pat Patrick or Charles Davis plumbing the depths on baritone saxophone against a shifting backdrop. This music evokes similar feelings and is equally memorable. Juniper - amazon.com

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Monday, January 10, 2022

Ornette Coleman - New York Is Now and Love Call Revisited (ezz-thetics records, 2021)

Alto saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman signed to Blue Note Records in the mid 1960's, recording two live albums and three studio releases. Two of the studio albums, New York Is Now and Love Call, which were recorded at the same sessions in the Spring of 1968 are presented on this compilation, with Coleman also adding trumpet and violin to his repertoire in the company of Dewey Redman on tenor saxophone, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. "The Garden of Souls" opens the album with lush horns and bowed bass sounding a haunted emotional theme, becoming saxophone plus rhythm at medium tempo picking up with Ornette's tart saxophone tone as bass and drums push and pull like the tide. Dewey Redman enters, using a very distinctive tenor saxophone tone and way of approaching the instrument, achieving pained vocal sounds, harmonizing together with Coleman and bowed bass, creating a distinctive overall textural sound. The snappy lead to "Toy Dance" is classic Ornette, leading to bouncing saxophone and light cymbals, as the music flies high and pulsating bass provides extra power. The trio improvisation stretches out nicely with the drums providing added pop, and a short rolling solo, leading back to a steaming collective improv. "We Now Interrupt for a Commercial" is the most unusual track, with Coleman employing sawing bowed violin along side bass and chaotic saxophone and a strange intoning spoken voice, to create one of the freest yet strangest tracks on the album, ending with strings and punishing drums. Up-tempo twisting in on itself, "Round Trip" sees Ornette playing a fast and graceful saxophone solo over light but insistent bass and drums. Garrison pushes things forward and Coleman responds with flurries of notes, leading to great gales of saxophone built from the ground up, eventually twin saxophones intertwine like DNA playing together beautifully"Airborne" uses an ascending theme to set up a cathartic rush of Coleman's saxophone, near to taut bass and simmering cymbals. Jones is hopped up and driving things onward, while Ornette is ripping off short potent phrases, pushing them aloft and soaring, sounding particularly inspired. buoyed by nice bass and drum interplay. Dewey's raw and scalding tenor saxophone enters with a fascinating grating sound in opposition to the tight bass and drums. Ornette moves to trumpet on "Love Call" as the full quartet comes together for an urgent opening. The trumpet pushes into open territory, as Redman counters with strong saxophone, vibrant and focused as the rhythm section simmers underneath. Trumpet and saxophone weave together in a fresh and interesting fashion, creating a powerful improvisation, "Open to the Public" has a fast paced intro for the full band driven hard by Jones, followed by Ornette taking off with an expressive saxophone solo, leaving lot of space for Jones who makes the most of it, playing an focused drum solo. Ornette playing over heavy drums is great, and here they are just raving spectacularly. "Check Out Time" is the final track, presenting a bright medium up choppy theme, as Ornette lets loose with tart peals of saxophone over discreet bass and drums, juking around the rhythm. Dewey Redman enters and is way out, playing in the medium of pure sound, juxtaposed against the steady pulse of bass and drums, he is wild to hear, Ornette Coleman is unique, and these albums are very interesting for the musicians they brought together, putting Coleman together with Garrison and Jones, famously the anchors of the great John Coltrane Quartet. Sometimes it feels a little stiff, but for the most part it works quite well. Dewey Redman is the real wild card, playing some of the most transgressive sounds of his career, he gives a much need spark of the unexpected to these sessions. New York Is Now and Love Call Revisited - Squidco

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Tuesday, January 04, 2022

The New York Contemporary Five - Copenhagen 1963 Revisited (ezz-thetics records, 2021)

 One of the most overlooked groups of the early 1960's progressive jazz scene, The New York Contemporary Five was just as capable investigating songs by Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk as they are playing their own fiery original compositions. All of this music was recorded at the Jazzhaus Martmartre in 1963 and the group consists of Archie Shepp on tenor saxophone, Don Cherry on cornet, John Tchicai on alto saxophone, Don Moore on bass and J.C. Moses on drums. "Cisum" opens the album with a fanfare like theme, leading to tight horns and drums which propel the cornet and drums to engage at a fast tempo. The saxophones enter, trading off ideas, as the band develops an acrobatic collective improvisation before a thundering drum solo heralds a return to the theme. Solo bass opens "Trio" before the rest of the band enters in a cascade of vibrant sound. Rising saxophone sounds create a dense web as the musicians encourage each other with cheers, and Cherry's cornet sweeps the deck engaging with Moses's drums as the saxophones riff in the background. This leads to a section of raw and cutting saxophone overblowing and weaving complex patterns of sound. "Consequences" has a complex opening, featuring Cherry's spitfire cornet playing over deeply swinging bass and drums. Saxophones swirl over active drumming and then return the favor by framing another strong drum solo. John Tchicai's "Wo Wo" has a jaunty theme which is taken by the full band, then Cherry along with bass and drums run with it. There are steong lines of cornet with encouraging drums, followed by graceful saxophone retorts. "O.C." by Ornette Coleman has a tumbling lead theme that quickly evolves into into a cascading section for raw saxophone improvising amid dynamic drumming. Punchy cornet and rhythm take the music in a different path, the elasticity of the music offering many possibilities. The group plays of short versions of the Thelonious Monk compositions "Monk's Mood" and "Crepuscule With Nellie". These are beautifully played with gradations of tone and grit from the horns, playing brief themes and variations. The Ornette Coleman's composition "Emotions" with the fast and energetic theme powering the horns to emote over subtly motoring bass and drums. Shepp picks up this thread and uses it, developing a fast pace to take off and push the envelope. This is exciting music that still sounds fresh, the music moving forward by developing a team based and resonant sound played with an youthful vigor. Copenhagen 1963 Revisited - SquidCo

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Saturday, January 01, 2022

El Intruso Year-End Poll

Happy new year to everyone, this is the ballot I sent in for the year-end poll to the website El Intruso

Musician of the year: James Brandon Lewis

Newcomer Musician: Patricia Brennan 

Group of the year: Broken Shadows 

Newcomer group: East Axis

Album of the year: Vijay Iyer/Linda May Han Oh/Tyshawn Sorey - Uneasy (ECM)

Composer: Henry Threadgill

Drums: Dave King

Acoustic Bass: William Parker

Electric Bass: Linda May Han Oh

Guitar: Ava Mendoza

Piano: Matthew Shipp

Keyboards/Synthesizer/Organ: Matt Mitchell

Tenor Saxophone: Rodrigo Amado

Alto Saxophone: Tim Berne

Baritone Saxophone: Dave Sewelson

Soprano Saxophone: Sam Newsome

Trumpet/Cornet: Jamie Branch

Clarinet/bass clarinet: Jason Stein

Trombone: Steve Swell

Flute: Nicole Mitchell

Violin/Viola: Jessica Pavone

Cello: Tomeka Reid

Vibraphone: Joel Ross

Electronics: Rob Mazurek 

Others instruments: Joshua Abrams on guimbri

Female Vocals: Moor Mother (Camae Ayewa)

Male Vocals: Ben Lamar Gay

Best Live Band: (Live music?)

Record Label: Intakt Records


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