Wednesday, January 18, 2023

This Week in Music 1/18

Earscratcher - Self Titled - A crack free jazz quartet develops fast tight collective improvisation, torrid interplay for bowed cello, piano, drums and saxophone. The group's use of dynamic shifts of space, brushed percussion and openness and layers of sound, coalesce into massive deluge of notes, where complex rhythms meet extended piano techniques playing inside the instrument alongside long bowed lines of cello. This creates a unique soundscape launching over the top saxophone squeals and drumming. Quieter sections emerge where instruments gradually fold together, brushes, lush piano and light saxophone, create a dreamworld before the music snaps back into focus to forge a strong tumbling free improvisation allowing choppy and angular extended techniques to engage swirling percussion. Withering speed and volume drop to quiet abstractions, with the electric cello developing spare sounds. The group gradually recovers power and speed, inner piano, sawing cello drums and driving saxophone to a potent finish. The first great album of 2023. Earscratcher

Patricia Brennan - More Touch - vibraphonist Brennan leads a fine quartet with bass, drums and percussion adding subtle electronics to her sound as well. The music uses well thought out and complex drums and percussion patterns with vibes, electronically altered for a very interesting sound. Sparkling showers of vibraphone notes around the ever shifting percussion floor. Brennan's use of electronics become more elaborate and frame the other instruments as the rhythms become more complex, it is a fascinating addition to her sound, and used in small doses as she does it is very effective.  The electronic and acoustic instruments work very well together on this album, leading to a very successful effort. More Touch

Soweto Kinch - White Juju - This is a very ambitious live album for saxophonist and vocalist Kinch vocals, combining a jazz quartet with the London Symphony Orchestra and sound clips from media sources. The quartet is light nimble, playing around the spoken politician platitudes, strings and keyboards broaden the sound considerably, it's well arranged, with some bombastic symphonic passages framing spoken messages. Nice instrumental sections with the larger band together interwoven with brass frame spoken word openings moving between conservative politicians and media, and Kinch's own rhymed response that fight the power. Both British and American demagogues are taken to task as strings swirl effectively around strong spoken declamations and brief scatting. There is a lengthy symphonic, anthemic piece with mournful saxophone set against against clips from politicians and media as saxophone grows in improvisation. The orchestra and quartet mesh  well at times with fine melodic sections, and this was clearly a labor of love for the bandleader, and he impresses as composer, arranger and musician. White Juju (currently download or streaming only)