Thursday, January 27, 2022

Dave Rempis / Avreeayl Ra Duo - Bennu (Aerophonic Records, 2022)

This is a spirited duo session with Dave Rempis on alto and tenor saxophone and Avreeayl Ra on percussion, recorded for an online stream at Constellation in Chicago in February of 2021. Rempis and Ra have worked together for about fifteen years, and this camaraderie shows in the music and takes it to another level. The opening track "Persea" uses wounded sounding saxophone wails and distant booms of percussion in space, where the music has emotion and depth in the openings of calm restraint. Rempis's deep robust saxophone tone begins to pick up the music's pace, faster to a growing intensity with raw sounds playing off against hollow percussion. They have a deep connection, creating a Sonny Rolllins / Max Roach vibe for a while, building vibrant exciting music that develops organically through communication. Cymbals and light brushes open "Fire and Ash," developing a distinctive rhythm, moving to sticks to create a deeper and more complex setting. The entry of stark sounding saxophone meets the drumming perfectly for uptempo symmetry making for an epic and exciting duo improvisation. Rempis uses deep raw sounds from his saxophone augmented with some fierce overblowing for added thrills as the drums thrash along at his side. "Divisions Of Time" is a massive twenty minute performance, where Avreeayl Ra uses subtle drumming and vocalizing to set the tone for the track, building an interesting rhythm from the ground up, rolling across the different drum heads and cymbals at his disposal. Rempis moves to alto saxophone which he plays with a tinge of emotional vulnerability and heart on sleeve immediacy. The music moves dynamically in waves, to a slow interlude with a calm drumbeat punctuated with quick hummingbird flutters of saxophone. An area of quiet abstraction slowly ramps up beginning to fill the available space, playing in a thoughtful manner but no less free since the musicians burn bright with creation and also do a brisk trade in musical ideas. Bennu - Aerophonic Bandcamp

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Monday, January 24, 2022

Albert Ayler - La Cave Live, Cleveland 1966 Revisited (ezz-thetics records, 2022)

Tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler was still at the top of his game April 1966 when he returned to his hometown of Cleveland, and fortunately on two nights his group was recorded in surprisingly good fidelity in a local club. This music was originally released on the spectacular Holy Ghost boxed set, and it is nicely re-mastered here. In addition to Albert Ayler, there is a storming band consisting of Donald Ayler on trumpet, Frank Wright on tenor saxophone (disc two only), Michel Samson on violin, Mutawef A. Shaheed (Clyde Shy) on bass and Ronald Shannon Jackson on drums. Both of the discs cover much of Ayler's well known holly rolling repertoire of the time, but the group's all or nothing approach to improvisation makes every performance unique. The first disc leads off with prime Ayler on "Spirits Rejoice," a folk like theme that he would revisit many times over the course of his career. The group strings fascinating medleys together like "Prophet/Ghosts/Spiritual Bells" where the saxophone and trumpet lock into some otherworldly brotherly mind meld. There is a particularly raw version with a marching band like feel and some nice textures from the violin, and their direct interplay with one another has everybody charging into raucous free interplay. The violin's solo is creating swirling and ethereal textures along side the horns and rhythm on "Untitled/The Truth is Marching In." This is erupts into a tearing Ayler solo, where he is all over the high register of the horn as they delve into the ecstatic theme, with Ayler and the violin duetting before another tenor blastoff and a return to the theme, creating a truly impressive performance. The ecstatic saxophonist Frank Wright ups the ante even further, with the abetted band playing "Bells", "Spiritual Bells" and "Untitled (F# Tune)" with intense fervor. "Untitled (F# Tune)" returns at the end of the album, Ayler plays in a burly but not overblown fashion, with the familiar theme "Our Prayer" bringing back the full band on a gospelish theme. Ayler's most indelible theme, "Ghosts" closes the album and this version is taken at a much faster pace and is more full-bodied with the larger group than the well known version on the Spiritual Unity LP. The pace picks up and settles and then picks back up again to an impossibly ferocious level with heavy drums underpinning intense squalls from the horns. This was a very impressive collection, the group shows  great stamina and endurance the ferocity of the playing. Ayler was leading one of his finest groups and was clearly heading toward a career peak that would be captured in his early recordings for Impulse Records. La Cave Live, Cleveland 1966 Revisited - Squidco

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Friday, January 21, 2022

John Hebert - Sounds of Love (Sunnyside Records, 2022)

The music of bassist and composer Charles Mingus has long been a guiding light for John Hebert, and around ten years ago he formed a band with himself on bass, Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet, Tim Berne on alto saxophone, Fred Hersch on piano and Ches Smith on drums and percussion to perform Mingus music and original compositions. This recording was taken from a concert in Switzerland in March of 2013. “Constrictor” opens the album with carousing cornet amid gentle accompaniment of subtle piano and smeared horns. Bynum’s potent free sounding cornet further engages the piano chords and thick bass, as the group patiently comes together as a group to explore their surroundings, before Berne lets loose with a confident saxophone feature. Lush piano and bass interplay mark a quieter section rich with narrative, with the horns returning for a graceful finale. A drum solo, fast and heavy, opens “The Blank Faced Man” soon joined by insistent bass with probing horns, swirling and diving. Open space envelopes the musicians with bowed bass and raw saxophone creating in the void, developing long tones of bow and saxophone with droplets of piano notes and making use of high register saxophone sounds for punctuation at the close of the track. The Charles Mingus composition "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love" is anchored by deep bass and drums setting the foundation, with Hebert's wonderful bass playing plowing a deep furrow of inventive improvisation. The band enters after several minutes in ballad form with distilled cornet, brushes and  saxophone filling out the lush and melancholic sound. After an a deft, rippling piano section, Bynum achieves a beautiful ballad tone on cornet, and everyone plays with such restrained grace on this excellent performance. Hebert's "Love, What?" is a recontextualization of the Mingus composition "What Love?" beginning quietly and  sounding open, the instruments wax and wane, with Berne's saxophone then launching into a passionate flight, beginning a saxophone and drums interplay throughout that consistently raises the stakes in an interesting manner. "Remember Rockefeller at Attica" begins in an abstract and stark manner, appropriate given the heavy subject matter referenced in the title. Smith's deeply rhythmic drum solo shocks everyone into motion, as band flips the script, hitting the indelible Mingus theme and swinging hard, leading to an outstanding saxophone solo fueled by propulsive bass and drums. Bynum and Hersch also get solo spots, and everybody is in on the act of pushing the music inexorably forward. The concluding track "Frivolocity" nods toward Mingus’s “Sue’s Changes," with a pleasant piano introduction leading to a colorful full band theme and jocular solos from the horn players. Coming near the one hundredth anniversary of Charles Mingus's birth, this album is a treat, demonstrating how the great man's influence has spread through generations of musicians. Sounds of Love -

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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 -

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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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